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DiNapoli approves Aqueduct VLT contract

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli signed off on the video lottery terminal contract for Aqueduct Race Track Monday afternoon, giving Genting NY LLC the final approval it needed to officially become the winning bidder for the project.

“After nearly a decade of false starts and broken promises, the VLT contract is done,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “This is one of the most important vendor contracts New York has ever signed.”

“My office did this right and we did it expeditiously without sacrificing thoroughness,” the comptroller said, referring to accusations that he was holding up the deal. “We took every step to ensure the taxpayers are safeguarded in this contract. It’s New Yorkers’ money; it’s my job to protect it.”

Genting, a subsidiary of Malaysian-based Genting Malaysia Berhad, was recommended as the winning bidder by the state Lottery Division in early August.

Since then, the company has gained the approval of Gov. David Paterson, state Sen. John Sampson (D-Brooklyn), state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

DiNapoli’s approval Monday sealed the deal.

The VLT contract includes a $380 million upfront fee to be paid by Genting, which pledged to have the first 1,500 of the 4,500 VLTs up and running in about nine months.

“Genting Malaysia Berhad is honored to have earned final approval to begin building a new facility at Aqueduct,” Genting Malaysia Berhad Chairman K.T. Lim said in a statement. “We are eager to begin investing, creating jobs, sparking economic activity and bringing New York a one-of-a-kind, iconic entertainment destination.”

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach), who represent the area around Aqueduct, said they were eager to see the project start now that the approval is in place.

“Now that [DiNapoli and Cuomo] have signed off on the Aqueduct proposal, I am optimistic that the final necessary procedures can be expediently completed so that we move toward the realization of local jobs and economic benefit from the site,” Addabbo said in a statement. “I look forward to working with Genting NY, [the New York Racing Association] and all entities involved for the well-being and interests of our communities.”

Pheffer said the VLT project “is imperative to our community.”

“I look forward to working closely with Genting to ensure a successful project,” she said.

Pheffer said she would make sure community concerns are addressed and that community residents have input into future planning at Aqueduct.

“We must work diligently to bring the jobs, employment opportunities and economic stimulus that Aqueduct will provide to our local community and economy,” she said.

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

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