New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has scrapped plans to build a $4b convention center/hotel/casino at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens after talks with Malaysian conglomerate Genting broke down. Speaking Friday afternoon on WOR-AM, Cuomo said he still hopes to develop a project that could include a casino, but it would be open to a competitive bid process, rather than starting with the non-binding agreement Cuomo entered into with Genting prior to announcing the convention center proposal in January. Genting, which already operates a racino at the Aqueduct course, has had its share of bad experiences in America. A year ago, the company paid $236m for a 14-acre chunk of downtown Miami on which it hoped to construct Resorts World Miami, only to have Florida legislators put their casino bill on ice (again) in February. Wonder if Resorts World America president Colin Au thinks Cuomo’s about-face is bullshit.
In Illinois, the state’s May 31 procedural deadline for approving its online gambling legislation came and went without any action taken. Senate president John Cullerton, the internet gambling bill’s chief sponsor, reportedly pulled the legislation off the docket in the belief that there wasn’t enough support to ensure passage this time around. The usual suspects – horseracing and land-based casino operators – are no doubt proud of themselves this morning, but their joy will be short-lived. Illinois pols passed other legislation allowing the construction of four new land-based casinos and the installation of slot machines at state racetracks, but the bills weren’t passed by veto-proof margins in either legislative body, and Gov. Pat Quinn told reporters on Friday he was inking up his veto pen.
Coupled with Thursday’s announcement by New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak that a vote on his online gambling legislation would likely be delayed until fall, it almost convinces you that passing gambling legislation is a particularly tough challenge. In truth, passing anything in a timely fashion is a challenge for US elected officials. For instance, NorthJersey.com’s John Brennan noticed that a NJ Senate committee slate for Monday, June 4 includes a joint resolution to proclaim March 12, 2012 as “Girl Scouts Day.” Methinks some NJ pols better buy a few extra boxes of cookies next year as a peace offering.