Genting is the Malaysian global gaming juggernaut that has been
working on gaming projects within the United States for several
years and finally appears to be on the verge of opening its first
domestic casino before the end of the year. Yet, one of its top
executives has just suggested that a tribal casino proposed for
Long Island could wreck its plans for a major racino development at
Aqueduct in New York City.
Colin Au is a senior executive of Genting New York LLC, the
company that was selected to develop the Aqueduct facility which
will operate under the name "Resorts World New York." He
also has been publicly identified for other company projects in the
United States, including a sidetracked casino in Fall River,
Massachusetts, in partnership with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe,
after leading that tribe out of an agreement with the Town of
Middleborough for a major casino resort development. But Mr. Au now
is expressing serious corporate concerns that the Aqueduct project
could be put out of business if the newly recognized Shinnecock
Nation of New York opens a casino in Long Island's Nassau
The Mashpee project seems to have been something of a diversion
for Genting, since its most serious efforts to gain a foothold in
the Unites States have been in the state of New York. Its latest
and largest effort is the proposed development at Aqueduct which
would include both the racino and a major convention center nearby
under plans publicly announced by the company. Upon winning the
competition for the Aqueduct contract, Genting made a $380 million
upfront payment to the State for a 30-year contract period and an
option for an additional 10 years. The racino component is already
Only last Monday, Genting Chief Financial Officer Christian
Goode made a detailed presentation of his plans to the state
Franchise Oversight Board at the State Capitol in Albany. In
addition to major renovations to the existing facility, Goode
unveiled plans to initially open the racino with 2,500 machines;
earlier statements indicated an ultimate installation of 5,000
gaming machines producing some $380 per machine per day. That level
of play would generate a drop of $1.9 million daily, or
approximately $700 million annually. These estimates are based on
the facility's location, a glitzy resort-type development plan,
and an affluent customer base in Long Island, Queens, and Brooklyn.
The proposed convention center would only add to the total
Also addressing the Franchise Board on Monday, Mr. Au said,
"Here is a place where many conventioneers can fly in for a
day. Of course, this will be done with private money that is our
money, not bonds."
But Mr. Au then ominously warned the Board that Genting could be
bankrupted by a Shinnecock casino on Long Island, expressing
emphatic opposition to the proposed Long Island Indian casino. If
such a casino is opened, he said, "It would be disastrous. We
probably would have to close shop." The implication was that
the state would be the big loser in that case since the taxable
revenues generated at Aqueduct would be permanently lost, as well
as a commitment to pay 7 percent of revenues to the New York Racing
Association and 1.5 percent to the breeding industry.
While Messrs. Goode and Au painted a rosy scenario for the state
with development of a competition-free project, they then stated
the bottom line to their message, which is that the State must
refuse to negotiate a Tribal State Class III Gaming Compact with
Shinnecock. Since such a compact is required under the federal
Indian gaming law, a State refusal to enter into the agreement
would foreclose the competition that Genting seems to fear.
It is a fact that a tribal casino could offer full casino games
not permitted at the Aqueduct site, including blackjack, poker, and
roulette – all are games that are extremely popular with
the gaming public. In the face of that potential competition, Mr.
Au flatly warned the Board to prevent it from becoming reality,
"We are absolutely on a very different level playing field.
It's important for the Governor's office to recognize they
should enter into a compact [pursuant to the Indian Gaming
Genting claimed to have been a great fan of Indian gaming a
couple of years ago when it pried the Mashpee casino project away
from that tribe's original development partners – a
project that appears to be in a state of permanent paralysis.
Conversely, the company currently is telling Governor Andrew Cuomo
that he must block any Indian gaming in New York. There might be
some consistency to Genting's attitude about Indian gaming, but
the corporate spokesmen have not yet explained it.
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