International edition
June 24, 2021

He became frustrated by the extensive review process and the lack of clear rules

In surprise move, casino magnate Steve Wynn abandons bid for Aqueduct Racetrack

(US).- Stephen A. Wynn on Wednesday dropped out of the bidding to revive the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens with 4,500 electronic slot machines, just two days before competing operators were to deliver their final offers for the complex.


ynn’s abrupt departure is only the latest twist in what has become a lengthy and evolving review process by Governor David A. Paterson, who is eager to get the money to help plug a multibillion-dollar budget gap. Still, his exit surprised rival bidders and state officials, who declined to comment.

Wynn, one of six bidders vying for the license at Aqueduct, had become frustrated by the extensive review process and the lack of clear rules, according to an executive who spoke with him recently.

He had proposed a lavish 27,870 sqm gambling and entertainment complex that some supporters had said would have added a touch of badly needed glamour to the aging track and attracted new customers. Wynn predicted that the track would generate us$ 500 million in its first year, us$ 135 million more than the state expected.

But critics said the proposal revealed Mr. Wynn’s failure to appreciate the working-class nature of the Ozone Park neighborhood surrounding the racetrack. Mr. Wynn also clashed with the leader of the hotel union in New York, Peter Ward, although Mr. Wynn eventually agreed to remain neutral if the union attempted to organize his proposed hotel.

Wynn’s company, Wynn Resorts, issued a terse statement Wednesday. “We are confident that the State of New York will find a qualified operator to meet its needs at Aqueduct,” it said. “We would like to thank our associates and community leaders for all their assistance in crafting our proposal.”

Last Friday, state officials sent letters to the six bidders asking that they submit their final offers for Aqueduct by this Friday, along with an unconditional commitment to provide a licensing fee of at least $200 million within 30 days of signing an initial agreement, or memorandum of understanding. The bidders were also asked to supply “conclusive evidence” of their financial ability to pay the licensing fee.

The other bidders include Penn National Gaming, which has stated publicly that it is offering $250 million for the licensing fee; Delaware North; and the Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which includes the Rev. Floyd Flake.

The six groups initially submitted their offers in May, after a prior deal with Delaware North fell apart when the company was unable to obtain financing. The Paterson administration did not want to reprise what it regarded as an embarrassing result.

The state asked the bidders to submit final offers in August, with a decision expected at the end of that month. But the deal must be approved by legislative leaders and the governor, who appear to have differing favorites. So once again the state asked the companies to submit new offers and proof of their financial ability to make a deal.

After news of Mr. Wynn’s departure circulated Wednesday, two bidders — R. Donahue Peebles, a developer who is bidding for the project in partnership with MGM Mirage, and SL Green Realty, a New York real estate company that is bidding in conjunction with Hard Rock Entertainment — issued statements expressing confidence that theirs was the best proposal.

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