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DiNapoli denies he’s stalling on Aqueduct VLT contract

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office has been accused of holding up the deal to award Genting NY the contract to install video lottery terminals at Aqueduct Race Track, but the comptroller denied the reports, saying he and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo are doing their due diligence.

Gov. David Paterson’s office said DiNapoli was running an “inept operation,” claiming the comptroller has had the contract on his desk since June, the New York Post reported.

“Contrary to news coverage, my office is not holding up approval on the VLT contract,” DiNapoli said in a statement Tuesday.

DiNapoli claimed he has not received a copy of the contract containing the signed approvals of Paterson, state Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn) and state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), but he still has “been actively reviewing the VLT procurement.”

DiNapoli said his office has been in contact with the state Lottery Division, which awarded the contract to Genting three weeks ago, over “questions and concerns” his office has had over the deal.

The comptroller is concerned over Genting’s 3 percent stake in MGM Grand, which runs a casino in China that has ties to Chinese gangsters, the Post reported.

New Jersey gambling authorities ordered MGM to sell its interest in the Borgata in Atlantic City, N.J., over the mob connection.

DiNapoli said too much is at stake to expedite approval of the VLT contract.

“It’s a 30-year license that carries the future of New York’s racing industry on its back,” he said. “Both the attorney general’s office and my office are conducting a thorough review of this document.”

A Paterson administration aide ´╗┐was irate at the comptroller’s office over the holdup, the Post reported, but DiNapoli said it is his responsibility to vet the deal.

“After nearly a decade of false starts and broken promises, including three years under the current administration, it’s understandable, if reports are correct, that someone on the governor’s staff is frustrated and anxious,” DiNapoli said. “But given the checkered history of this deal, I must take every step to ensure the taxpayers are safeguarded in this contract. It’s New Yorkers’ money; it’s my job to protect it.”

DiNapoli was referring to the collapse of a deal between the state and Aqueduct Entertainment Group, which was awarded the contract but deemed unlicensable by the Lottery.

Scrutiny of the AEG deal intensified because the Rev. Floyd Flake, the influential southeast Queens pastor, had a 0.06 percent stake in the consortium and Flake met with Paterson just days after the company was selected for the contract.

Paterson, who was running for re-election, ended his campaign shortly after details of the meeting emerged, although it was unclear if the AEG deal was the reason he dropped his bid.

Flake wound up backing out of AEG, saying he wanted to concentrate on his other interests.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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