Aqueduct racino is a ‘bad bet’ for New York: consultant

July 12, 2010 01:30PM

The state governor and legislature should scrap their plans to
include video slot machines at the Aqueduct race track, according to
Hugh O’Neill, president of Appleseed, an economic development
consulting company. The city ought to be considering a better use for
those 192 acres of public land near JFK Airport, O’Neill argued in a
commentary he wrote for the Center for an Urban Future, a
Manhattan-based think tank. Though the state has been counting on an
up-front licensing fee of $300 million from the winning bidder on the
project, O’Neill points out, nobody ever studied the economic benefits
of using video slot machines to liven up a dying race track. The state
plan calls for the creation of 4,500 video lottery terminals at the
Queens racetrack. O’Neill says that racing has been a declining
business at Aqueduct for a long time, with falling attendance rates and
a reduction in the number of racing days, from 162 to 117, in the last
two decades. He suggested that state officials look into the
possibility of redeveloping Aqueduct into an area for new office
buildings, hotels or a conference center, capitalizing on the millions
of square feet of space near a major airport, as other cities have
done. TRD