Lawmakers along with residents and others from Suffolk County, New York came together on Saturday to voice their disapproval of the establishment of a small casino in Medford.
Previously revealed plans by the Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corporation to build a mini-casino on a 31-acre parcel that the corporation purchased last October for $10 million in the Town of Brookhaven have been met with opposition since being introduced earlier this year. Repeated requests by Suffolk OTB for regional lawmaker’s approval of construction of the facility that would feature a 1000-machine gaming parlor, restaurants and bars and where gambling property is estimated to spread over 100,000 square feet, have gone unanswered.
According to the opposition, a gambling property would have a severe negative affect on the local community resulting in an increase in the number of individuals showing signs of gambling addiction, increased traffic and crime, and according to Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) who attended the rally, the negative effects would outweigh the expected benefits people believe they would receive from gambling in Medford.
Adding to the opposition is Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), who earlier this year introduced a bill that would invalidate the authorization of the Nassau and Medford proposed gambling venues which was voted against by the majority of Suffolk County officials in March. Also in attendance at the rally on Saturday, Fitzpatrick announced that he would be re-submitting the bill during the approaching legislative session in hopes that it would receive necessary approval. The March vote against the proposed legislation was explained by the proponent’s contention that a Medford casino would result in jobs for residents and generate revenue for the region.
On May 11 Suffolk OTB successfully filed a petition for debt modification under Chapter 9 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code which they are hoping to emerge from. Protesters at the Saturday rally said they don’t want to help an off-track betting company fresh out of bankruptcy court by hosting a gambling venue in their community.
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.