$300 million up-front fee still in play; says new video gaming operator could be chosen by August 1

The bidder chosen to develop a racino at Aqueduct Racetrack must give New York state $300 million up front, the same amount that the previous bidder agreed to pay in exchange for winning the contract, Gov. David Paterson said this week.

The governor also said he believed an operator could be chosen by August 1.

Bidding on the lucrative VLT casino for Aqueduct, located in New York City's borough of Queens, was reopened earlier this month after the previous choice was rejected amid state and federal corruption probes.

Over the years, the list of companies that have expressed interest in adding slots to Aqueduct includes: SL Green Realty Corp with Seminole Hard Rock Casinos; MGM Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment; Pennsylvania National; Wynn Resorts; Delaware North and The Peebles Corporation, as well as the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and the Victoria Racing Club, which were working with New York-based Capital Play.

New York needs the money that any winning bidder would have to pay after being awarded the contract. The state's financial problems have become more pressing after the Legislature missed its April 1 budget deadline as Paterson, Sen. John Sampson, the Democratic conference majority leader, and Democratic Speaker Sheldon Silver failed to agree on how to close a $9.2 billion deficit.