Seven groups submitted bids for the lucrative license, but both the award deadline and the requirement to open by October 2011 may be unrealistic

New York officials have informed all bidders for the Aqueduct racino that the contract will be awarded to the winning bidder by August 1, and the facility must be opened by October 2011. With this type of pressure and other problems to date, there is a good chance that some of the bidders will withdraw or turn down the winning bid due to a timetable now considered unrealistic, according to news reports.

Bidders include a range of gambling, real estate development and financial partners such as Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn, Hard Rock Entertainment, Penn National Gaming and Delaware North, each of which are currently undergoing financial and criminal background checks by the administration of Gov. David Paterson.

There is also the possibility that turmoil in the state Senate could delay everything. A coup, in which two Democrats joined with 30 Republicans to take back control of the upper house from the Democratic Party, has stalled all action in the Senate for two weeks. One of the rebel Democrats later hopped the fence, leaving a 31-31 tie between the parties.

While the Aqueduct project has already been approved by state law, selection of the bidder must be unanimously approved by Paterson and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate.

A letter the state sent to bidders this week requires them to complete a new series of financially related questions with the answers to go on a spreadsheet so the administration can compare the different plans.

The Aqueduct project was first approved in December of 2001 and has been through the New York political ringer and the administrations of three different governors.