12/16/2008 1:00AM

Paterson advocates slots at Belmont


New York Gov. David Paterson on Tuesday proposed that the state authorize slot machines at Belmont Park as one of literally hundreds of ways for the state to raise revenue in the face of a projected $15 billion budget deficit.

The authorization would raise $370 million for the state, according to the budget, through a one-time franchise fee from the company that would be selected to operate the casino. Slot machines are currently legal at nine other New York racetracks, including Aqueduct. Both Aqueduct and Belmont are operated by the New York Racing Association.

Republicans in the state senate and lobbyists for casino companies have long pushed for slot machines at Belmont, but those efforts have been blocked by the speaker of the assembly, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat. Paterson is a Democrat.

Two months ago, the state selected Delaware North to run the casino at Aqueduct. The company is expected to pay the state $370 million as a franchise fee for the Aqueduct casino, though the payment schedule has not been finalized.

Most analysts expect the casino at Aqueduct to have $500 million in annual revenues. A casino at Belmont Park would be expected to generate a similar amount of revenue.