ISLANDIA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A bombshell ruling from a state supreme court justice has patrons of an OTB casino on Long Island worried and the business’s neighbors cheering.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the judge found that the Village of Islandia’s granting of a special permit for the casino at Jake’s 58 Hotel, just off the Long Island Expressway, was invalid. The judge said “the accessory use of a casino was not necessary for the hotel’s operation.”
“It’s an amazing victory to me because we moved here to have a nice family community,” said April Meyer, whose home abuts the casino.
Meyer and her neighbors are hoping the ruling will mean the casino will move elsewhere.
“It shows that ordinary taxpayers, if they unite and they coalesce and they have the courage and the fortitute, they can take on these unholy alliances, as I call them, of the big money and the unprincipled politicans,” said Paul Sabatino, the attorney for the casino’s opponents.
Neighbors argue that board members shoehorned in the casino application against village code without a public hearing.
They also say the casino has caused them headaches.
“Last night, also, on the corner, there was a patron urinating on a tree,” Meyer said. “I hear honking all night long, the alarms going off. The other night, I opened the door, and I asked, ‘Please, can you be quiet?'”
But patrons are proving the casino popular. Bankrupt Suffolk OTB will pay off its debt. Just last month, the casino raked in $220 million in gross revenue.
“I love this place,” said Roseann Dunn, a casino patron. “It’s clean, there’s absolutely no smoking in the casino, and it’s close to home.
Dunn said that not only does she not want to see the casino go away, she hopes it expands.
Parking has improved with free valet and hundreds of spots — there are dozens more on the streets with muni meters.
The casino says it is a good neighbor.
“I don’t think they should close,” said Emmanuel Johnson, another casino patron. “You need it. We need this here, a little bit out of outlet. It’s not bothering nobody. It’s just good for the tax dollars. It’s a good thing for the community also.”
The casino remains open. There will be a scheduled meeting with the judge next month involving both sides.
The village has until Dec. 8 to appeal. OTB says it is confident a resolution will be reached.
Islandia officials did not return CBS2’s calls. Jake’s 58 says it believes it will prevail in the courts, saying the casino is providing millions in tax revenue and direct aid to education.