ISLANDIA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– Long Island residents near an Islandia hotel are fighting against a video gaming parlor.
It’s the latest in a series of community battles after New York voters approved gambling. But did Long Island voters know what they were getting?
Suffolk Off-Track Betting says the ideal site for a video casino is a hotel right off the Long Island Expressway. However, there’s a familiar chorus of opposition in nearby neighborhoods.
“We are talking about alcoholism, addiction, prostitution, crime,” Hamlet Windwatch Homeowners Association President Larry Kelter said.
“People who want to come live here would say, ‘I don’t want to live across the street from a casino,'” association member Isabella Kelter said.
Islandia is yet another community trying to fend off a Long Island based gambling parlor. Others have protested, petitioned, and sued. The village of Islandia is now packing in a crowd before voting on 1,000 video lottery terminals that would be open 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. seven days a week.
Not everyone opposes the proposal.
“It would be nice in regard to avoiding going to Atlantic City,” one resident said.
“I would definitely use it, it would be awesome,” another said.
Brett Houdek, who sent OTB packing in Medford, calls the law that authorized video gaming on Long Island a backroom Albany deal to save OTB patronage jobs and bail out cash strapped counties.
“Not only has it been shoved down our throats, OTB in both Nassau and Suffolk have displayed arrogance in the process with no transparency,” he said.
New York voters okayed casinos in a 2013 referendum, but critics say it was a lose-lose for Long Island and that gaming parlors were included either way, imposed by an appointed OTB board that bypasses local zoning laws.
Supporters promise the casino will present jobs and millions in tax revenue not only for Islandia, but to ease the tax burden across Suffolk County. Nearby communities, who don’t get a say, are betting their property values will go down.
A spokesman for the company building the facility said pending approvals, that they will open a temporary facility in the Marriott Hotel at 3635 Express Drive North in the next four months. A permanent gaming venue would follow next year.
The village of Islandia votes next week on the casino. Opposition to a casino in Nassau prompted a deal earlier this year to move the county’s share of video lottery terminals to Aqueduct Racetrack.