Aqueduct Race Track is creeping closer to receiving video lottery terminals, and perhaps, electronic table games. The state Senate and Assembly both agreed last week to approve Genting New York’s proposal to revitalize the Ozone Park venue.
The proposal, which included an upfront $380 million payment to the state, was well received by local leaders and community members. Genting’s original plans include more than 4,500 slot machines, but it now appears that electronic table games may enter the mix.
“The Lottery believes the inclusion of elec- tronic table games will allow our casinos to be more competitive with other casinos in Pennsylvania, Atlantic City and Connecticut,” said Jennifer Givner, spokeswoman for New York Lottery. Electronic versions of table games such as roulette and baccarat are expected to be installed at Saratoga Springs. If successful there, the games will be installed in other New York racinos including Aqueduct.
The New York Constitution prohibits casino table games, but New York Lottery contends electronic versions of some games constitute games of chance, which are legal.
Last year, New York Lottery unveiled its plans to include electronic table games without the approval from the state. At that time, Senator Frank Padavan, a fierce critic of gambling, wrote to Gordon Medenica, Director of New York Lottery, “It is clear to me not only would such a decision be ill conceived and certainly unconstitutional but evidence of a total disregard of prior court decisions.”
Medenica replied that New York Courts specify that electronic table games are legal as long as the game is predominantly decided by chance. In Dalton v. Pataki in 2005, the courts ruled a versions of casino games can be a video lottery if it obeyed five rules: “(1) a player must give a consideration to enter the game; (2) winning outcomes must be determined by chance; (3) a prize must be awarded for winning plays; (4) tickets must be used to represent the players’ wages; and (5) the game must be designed for multiple players.”
With this decision, Medenica believes New York Lottery can install table games without approval from the state, and it would be perfectly legal. Medenica asserted that an electronic version of roulette would be no different than lotto: “All bets are based on guesses of where a ball tumbling over a wheel will land, no different than balls tumbling in a drum in a Lotto game drawing.”