(Updates with background and quotes, adds byline)
By Joan Gralla
NEW YORK, May 11 (Reuters) - The New York Lottery said on Tuesday it restarted its search for a video lottery terminal vendor for Aqueduct Racetrack after the previous choice was rejected amid state and federal probes.
Previously, the governor and top legislators were involved in choosing a slot-machine vendor.
But this time, the winner will be selected by a committee to be led by the Lottery director and staffed by Lottery workers and a representative of the state Division of Budget, the Lottery said in a statement.
In March, Governor David Paterson, a Democrat, said an "apolitical" method would be used to pick a new supplier after state and federal authorities began probing whether Aqueduct Entertainment Group had won the lucrative contract to assist one of Paterson's political allies, the Rev. Floyd Flake, who is a former congressman. For details, see: [ID:nN11236583].
The slot machine probes were one of several investigations that led Paterson to quit his election bid a week after launching it. For details, see: [ID:nN26203210] and [ID:nN26258051].
The governor had included $300 million from the Aqueduct slots vendor in his initial budget plan, and New York needs the money now more than ever, as its deficit tops $9 billion. The new slots selection committee was given a 12-week deadline for making its recommendation to Paterson.
"All bids will be made public once a winner is selected," and the Request for Proposals will be posted on websites," the New York Lottery said in a statement.
For years, New York governors have tried and failed to offer gamblers slot machines at Aqueduct Racetrack, located in New York City's borough of Queens.
The list of previous companies that bid for the contract includes SL Green Realty Corp (SLG.N) with Seminole Hard Rock Casinos, MGM Mirage (MGM.N), Harrah's Entertainment HAMLEH.UL, Pennsylvania National, Wynn Resorts Ltd (WYNN.O), 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. (Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Jan Paschal)