Aqueduct's Decade

Here’s a graph from the Center for an Urban Future’s new report on why New York’s bet on reaping huge profits from putting video slot machines at the Aqueduct racetrack probably won’t pay off.

“[S]tate officials never seriously studied whether the idea of using video slot machines to prop up a dying race track make sense economically…


“Racing has been a declining business at Aqueduct for a long time. Between 1990 and 2009, the number of racing days dropped from 162 to 117. During the same period, total attendance fell by 82 percent; and after adjusting for inflation, Aqueduct’s “handle”—the total amount wagered on races at Aqueduct, including simulcast betting—also fell by 82 percent. In 2009, average daily attendance at Aqueduct was just 2,408, and the average daily handle just over $1 million.”

The competition to win the contract has been fierce. Three companies submitted bids to run the slot machines at Aqueduct. Two were disqualified. And one elected official says the fight for the Aqueduct bid may be behind a smear campaign targeting politicians in the racetrack's southeast Queens area.

The Center wants state officials to scrap the slot machines idea and instead look at how to use two nearby airports to generate financial activity.