From the NY Times:
With Albany’s dysfunction searing their fortunes and reputations, why is the same small group of companies insistent on trying to build and run a slot machine casino at a rundown racetrack in southern Queens?
There is the obvious and immediate allure of revenue from the 4,500 video lottery terminals, or V.L.T.’s at Aqueduct racetrack, which could gross several hundred million dollars in their first year. Those are enticing numbers on their own. But the greater attraction may be the potential down the road: the gold-plated possibility that the state is on a path toward further legalization of gambling.
Privately, several bidders have made clear that legalization is where they see things headed. And having a licensed casino, albeit a limited one, in the state’s greatest population center would provide a leg up should that day come.
State Senator Frank Padavan of Queens, who has long opposed gambling, said he believed that the state was indeed heading toward further legalization.
“Sure, they’d like to have a full-fledged casino ultimately,” he said. “The people who are in this business are in the business to milk it for all it’s worth.”
Mr. Padavan called it “a big mistake” to place a casino in a neighborhood “where the majority of the people who would be going in to lose money are frankly people who can least afford it.”
Another motivation that bidders have only hinted at is the potential for future real estate development on the vast Aqueduct site.
The Rev. Floyd H. Flake, who had been a partner in the Aqueduct Entertainment Group until he withdrew earlier last week, spoke about that motivation during a recent interview on the cable station NY1. As a partner, Mr. Flake said, he would be involved not in the gambling aspect of the project but rather in possible future real estate development, including affordable housing.