Long Island Gambling Controversy

By Joseph Ryder

 New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre leads casino protesters in chants of "Hell no, no casino," on March 26, 2016.

New York State Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre leads casino protesters in chants of "Hell no, no casino," on March 26, 2016.

There’s an ongoing controversy over the siting of two casinos on Long Island. Both Nassau and Suffolk OTB would operate Video Lottery Terminal casinos, which include slot machines and table games played on screens. While both county executives support the VLT casinos, residents are torn about the impact they will have on their communities. One of the proposed casinos would be built at Belmont Park. 

Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy, whose village borders Belmont Park, believes the casino would a have negative impact on crime, traffic, and local businesses. Last month, Tweedy helped organize a 2000 person rally against the casino.

“The response of our residents and our community was immediate and visceral," he said. "Our business community is completely against it. We’ve been building a coalition of communities and organizations here in town. Our Floral Park chamber of commerce has studied the issues and have come out completely against it.”

The casino would be built in the village of Elmont. Patrick Nicolosi, President of the Elmont East End Civic Association, disagrees.

"The Casino at the racetrack at Belmont will create thousands of jobs and it will have a positive effect on other jobs in other places in my community such as restaurants and shopping and so-forth." he said. 

In the three years since Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature approved the casino, the site of the proposed Nassau project has been moved three times.

Despite the controversy, Nassau County executive Ed Mangano has included $20 million dollars of potential revenue in his 2016 budget proposal.

Since Belmont is on state owned land, the legislature has to approve the project. Tweedy said he is ready to sue if they do.


Suffolk OTB Finalizing Casino Plans Amid Opposition

By Joseph Ryder

 The Marriott in Islandia where Suffolk OTB is proposing to place a VLT casino.

The Marriott in Islandia where Suffolk OTB is proposing to place a VLT casino.

The bankrupt Suffolk OTB is trying to get its plan for a Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) casino in Medford finalized before a bankruptcy court hearing in April. However, community opposition is making that difficult.

Since Suffolk OTB and gaming management company Delaware North obtained the site in 2014, the land has sat unused, and the project is stuck in limbo due to opposition from residents and the refusal by the Town of Brookhaven to rezone the site.

"I’m a person who believes there’s a place for everything, and while that place may exist in upstate New York in a depressed area, we don’t want to bring that type of depression here,” said Brett Houdek, president of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association. “They’re not viable entities in densely populated areas.”

There are reports that Suffolk OTB is looking to move the project to the Marriott Hotel in Islandia, which is located in an industrial area.

Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey, who also is president of the union that represents Nassau OTB workers, said that there is a lot of "fear mongering" around the casino.

"People like to gamble, they enjoy it and we’re losing those dollars right now to Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania,” McCaffrey said. “People want to stay close to home and enjoy that as their recreation.”

OTB will appear before a bankruptcy judge on April 13th to assess its progress on building the casino.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature approved the construction of VLT casinos in Nassau and Suffolk Counties in 2013.VLT casinos include slot machines and table games played on screens.

The site of the proposed casino in Nassau County has been moved three times since 2013. 


These stories were originally aired on February 16, 2016 and February 29, 2016 on WSHU Public Radio