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New York Plans Largest U.S. Convention and Exhibition Center

Genting Group, a multinational development and casino company based in Malaysia, has signed a letter of intent to build the nation’s largest convention center at the current site of Aqueduct racetrack in New York City.

The non-binding letter, released by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office says the proposed New York International Convention and Exhibition Center would be a 3.8 million-square-foot facility with a pricetag of nearly $4 billion.

According to the governor’s office, the mammoth project will create more than 10,000 jobs, mostly in construction.

The project, unveiled in Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address last week already has generated significant controversy, primarily because New York already has spent more than $50 million during the past three years to expand the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. Also, the Cuomo administration maintains that competitive bidding is not required for the new project in Queens.

According to reports, the administration said Genting already has the authority to begin its proposed convention center project with 3,000 hotel rooms under the competitive bid it won over a year ago to build its video slot “racino” at the track. Genting is providing the financing for the project on state land where it operates under a 30-year lease. A later phase of the development would require the acquisition of about 20 acres of government-owned land.

Malaysia-based Genting spent more than $774,000 on New York lobbying in the first 10 months of 2011, or 10 times its total for 2010. Its letter also notes plans to expand casino gambling at Genting’s current video slot machine operation at Aqueduct.

But building a casino at Aqueduct will require an amendment to the state constitution, which Cuomo also proposed in his State of the State address. Currently, only Indian-run casinos are allowed and that’s under a federal gambling law.

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