A rally attended by dozens of protesters was held Saturday morning against the planned construction of a casino on Long Island.
The rally took place outside of Belmont Park Racetrack, where protesters don’t want a casino built, as reported by WCBS 880 News. Not only were the protests against a Nassau County casino; organizers said the rally was for Suffolk County as well.
Protestors told the news outlet that the casino would bring with them a host of problems including crime and more traffic to areas that are already congested. Matthew Sexton said, “We have six schools in this area and to have potentially an increase in DWI’s, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense for our community.” Protestor Carl Gerroto said casinos are designed to keep people in them, so having one in the community won’t benefit it as a whole. He said, No one’s going to be shopping in stores, eating in restaurants.” However, proponents of the planned casino in Elmont say it would bring the area jobs and $24 million in revenue.
Belmont Park first opened in 1905 in Elmont, New York and is a major thoroughbred horse-racing facility. Last month, more than 2,000 protesters participated in a mile-long march that started at Floral Park and ending at Elmont. They sent a clear message to the powers that be; they don’t want 1,000 video lottery terminals (VLT’s) installed at the racetrack. In January, Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. (OTB) chose the state-run racing and entertainment facility for a 100,000 square foot permanent slot parlor. Sometime this year, state lawmakers will be lobbied to approve the plan.
In January, Suffolk Off-Track Betting submitted plans for a similar casino scheme in Medford to the Town of Brookhaven, in Suffolk County. However, after facing strong opposition from Brookhaven town officials and civic leaders, the OTB is considering moving its planned 1,000 VLT casino to the Marriott Hotel in Islandia.
New York state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s five-year audit released on September 25th suggested that Nassau and Suffolk counties open slot parlors, and that the OTBs join forces so that they are able to negotiate better rates for rights to broadcast live racing from tracks.
Legislation has been introduced by Long Island lawmakers to stop casinos from being built on any location on the island.