Genting gets Silver’s OK on Aqueduct deal

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State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) signed off on the deal to award the Aqueduct video lottery terminal contract to Genting NY, giving the subsidiary of the Malaysian-based company the last piece of the legislative approval it needs to go forward with the project.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo still need to approve the deal, which is standard procedure for state contracts.

“Genting New York is honored to have the support of Governor Paterson and the New York State Legislature as we work to deliver on our pledge to bring thousands of jobs, billions of dollars in economic revenue and a world class entertainment destination to the great state of New York,” said Stefan Friedman, a Genting spokesman, in an e-mail message. “Aqueduct holds tremendous potential as an economic engine for the region and we are eager to get to work.”

Silver’s blessing of the project comes after Genting was approved by Paterson and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson (D-Brooklyn).

Genting is promising to pay the state a $380 million upfront payment and contribute 1 percent of its net profits to the community. The company has also said it will open an employment office soon after it gets the go-ahead to start construction.

Senate President Malcolm Smith (D-St. Albans) hailed the support of legislative leaders on the project as a boon to the area around Aqueduct.

“The announcement of Genting NY to operate VLTs at Aqueduct is extraordinary news for the residents of Queens,” Smith said in a statement.

He said Genting “will bring economic stability and good-paying jobs to the community.”

Silver did not put out a news release announcing his support of the project but his spokeswoman said he signed the memorandum of understanding attached to the deal.

The state Lottery Division strongly recommended legislative leaders approve Genting’s bid for Aqueduct earlier this month, with Lottery Director Gordon Medenica calling the company’s plans “impressive on many levels.”

The request for proposals issued by the agency says DiNapoli can dissolve the deal if he finds that Genting or its subcontractors are not licensed to collect state and local sales and compensating use taxes.

It does not say on what grounds Cuomo can squash the agreement.

While two other bidders — SL Green/Hard Rock and Penn National Gaming — submitted bids for the Aqueduct project, they were disqualified from contention after the Lottery said they did not conform to the RFP process.

Genting’s plans for Aqueduct include 4,500 VLTs, a Chinese restaurant, a buffet and a three-story digital indoor water show.

The company told a Senate committee last week it could be up and running with 1,600 of the 4,500 VLTs six months after construction starts on the project.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

Updated 6:08 pm, October 10, 2011
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