08/09/2010 4:34PM

N.Y. chair favors Aqueduct casino bidder


The chairman of the New York Senate’s Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee said on Monday that he would recommend that the state’s legislative leaders endorse a Malaysian-based company’s bid to operate a long-stalled casino at Aqueduct.

The chairman, Sen. Eric Adams, made the recommendation at the close of a presentation by Genting New York on its proposal to build and operate the casino. Last week, the state lottery issued a report to Gov. David Paterson that highly recommended that Genting be approved as the casino’s operator.

Genting’s proposal must be approved by Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate President Pro Tem Malcolm Smith before construction can begin on the facility. All three are Democrats. Paterson has already said that he will accept the lottery’s recommendation, but representatives of Smith and Silver have said they are evaluating Genting’s bid.

Although Adams’s approval is not required, his recommendation will likely influence the decisions of Silver and Smith. Last week, representatives of Smith said that the senator’s legal staff intended to question Genting over its commitment to hiring minorities and women for the casino project, among other concerns, before issuing an endorsement.

Travis Proulx, a spokesperson for Smith, said that Adams’s recommendation carries significant weight in the Senate, citing Adams’s work on evaluating multiple proposals for the casino, which was first approved nine years ago.

“Following Sen. Adams recommendations, Sen. Smith will personally review the proposal and make a final recommendation very soon,” Proulx said.

Genting was one of three companies to submit a proposal to operate the casino, which is expected to generate at least $600 million in gross gambling revenues and $65 million in subsidies for the Thoroughbred racing industry. Genting’s proposal was the only bid to be fully vetted by the lottery, however, after the proposals submitted by the two other companies were disqualified early in the evaluation process.