The Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens was proposed to be converted into a “racino” (racing + casino) in the 2000s to help reverse years of declining attendance. Questions about the racino proposals caused both the New York (NY) Post and the New York (NY) Daily News to use the term “Aquemuck” in 2010.
Wikipedia: Aqueduct Racetrack
Aqueduct Racetrack, known as the Big A, is a thoroughbred horse-racing facility located in the neighborhood of Ozone Park in the New York City borough of Queens.
Proposal for Racino
The New York State Legislature legalized video gambling devices at racetracks in 2001. However the opening of a racino at the track has hit various problems. Video lottery terminals similar to slot machines were approved at five locations, including Aqueduct, Finger Lakes Race Track, Monticello Raceway, Vernon Downs, and Yonkers Raceway. The revenue would be divided between the racetracks and the state and would allow tracks to increase purses and attract better quality horses in races.
In 2007, the state issued a request for proposals to operate the video lottery terminals at Aqueduct. Among the bids received was a $2 billion proposal by the Shinnecock Indian Nation to open a casino at the track. The proposal was in conjunction with Marian Ilitch, a co-owner of the Detroit Red Wings. The proposal according to most sources was dead on arrival since even if the Shinnecocks received official Bureau of Indian Affairs recognition as a tribe (which they are still awaiting), the Aqueduct Casino would still have to be approved by the New York State Legislature, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Aqueduct would have to first be taken into trust by the Department of Interior since the Shinnecocks historically had not owned property in Queens. In October 2008, the state selected the Delaware North as the winning bidder among three proposals to build a racino at Aqueduct. The 330,000 square foot facility would include 4,500 slot machines. However, these plans fell apart in March 2009 when the developer was unable to make a $370 million upfront payment to the state.
In July 2009, seven companies submitted bids to develop a racino at Aqueduct: Aqueduct Entertainment Group, Delaware North, MGM, Mohegan Sun, Penn National Gaming, SL Green Realty, and Steve Wynn. Some developers indicated that a portion of the slot machines could open as early as April 2010. However, the selection of an operator for the casino was delayed for several months because State officials frequently changed the rules and could not reach an agreement on the winning bidder, prompting Steve Wynn to pull out of the running in November. On January 29, 2010, Governor David Paterson announced that the Aqueduct Entertainment Group would run the casino.
Aqueduct Entertainment Group partners included GreenStar Services Corporation, Turner Construction Company, Levine Builders, The Darman Group, Empowerment Development Corporation, Navegante Group, PS&S Design, Siemens AG and Clairvest Group. The appointment generated controversy because of charges that AEG, which had the worst initial bid of those bidding, was allowed to change its bid so that it had the best. Paterson was reported to have demanded that the ownership of an affirmative action component. During this time singer Jay-Z, through his company Gain Global Investments Network LLC, then got a 7 percent ownership of AEG and charges were made that Jay-Z and Paterson had a personal relationship. U.S. prosecutors investigated the bidding process particularly in the light that AEG won the bid two days after Queens megachurch pastor Floyd Flake (who is also an AEG investor) threatened to switch his support in the 2010 governor race from Paterson to Andrew Cuomo. New York house speaker Sheldon Silver also threatened not to sign off on the deal. Paterson maintained there was no quid pro quo. On March 9, 2010 Paterson, Flake, and Jay-Z withdrew from further involvement. Paterson said he was recusing himself on the advice of his lawyers. Flake, who had 0.6 percent share said the case was distracting from his other projects. On March 11, 2010, the state withdrew its support for the AEG bid and announced that a new group would be selected through an “expedited, transparent, apolitical and publicly accountable process.”
New York (NY) Post
Feds wade into the Aque-muck
Graft probers seize state info on slots award
By FREDRIC U. DICKER in Albany and ISABEL VINCENT and CARL CAMPANILE in NY
Posted: 2:51 AM, February 11, 2010
Federal prosecutors have seized records involving the controversial Aqueduct Racetrack video-slots project awarded to the AEG group as part of a sweeping corruption probe, officials said yesterday.
The US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan subpoenaed the state Lottery Division on Tuesday for records filed by the winning consortium—Aqueduct Entertainment Group—whose partners include powerhouse minister and former Rep. Floyd Flake, a good friend of Gov. Paterson, sources said.
The sweeping probe involves the incestuous relationship between AEG and a Queens nonprofit group, New Direction Local Development Corp.
New York (NY) Daily News headlines - April 3, 2010
Dems to blame for Aquemuck debacle, Silver tells probers
In secret testimony before the state inspector general’s office, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Senate Dems pushed for the disastrous Aqueduct racino deal.
New York City • Sports/Games • (0) Comments • Saturday, April 03, 2010 • Permalink