Casino opponents in New York have claimed a victory against Suffolk OTB’s Jake’s 58 Casino in Islandia. A justice of the New York State Supreme Court has ruled that village officials overstepped their bounds when they awarded a special permit for Delaware North Companies to operate a casino in the former Islandia Marriott Long Island hotel that was renamed to Jake’s 58 after the casino license was awarded.
On September 8 Justice William G. Ford ruled that the casino could not be considered a necessary “accessory use” of the hotel, which is reportedly a condition the Islandia Village Board validated when awarding the permit last year, according to a report on Newsday.com (subscription paygate).
Ford stated: “Local standards, of course, may change over time. Until then, Delaware North’s attempt to shoehorn its application to fit the existing law regarding accessory uses is a bridge too far,” according to the report.
Opponents of the casino, who had sued on various fronts, had their lawyers announce the judge’s decision yesterday. No injunction was announced that would have closed the casino immediately and it was unclear what legal steps would be taken next beyond a conference the judge scheduled to meet with lawyers from both sides. That conference was reportedly set for October 5th, and the village has until December 8 to appeal the ruling.
Village attorneys and leaders have not made any public comments so far on the ruling but a spokesperson for the casino opponents called it, “a huge victory for the rule of law,” according to News Day.
Suffolk County Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. was granted the right to offer video lottery terminal slot machines in an omnibus casino deal crafted by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and approved voters statewide in a November 4, 2013, referendum. The struggling OTB is counting on the casino to help pay off about $15 million in debt. Under the same law, Nassau OTB was allowed to operate 1,000 slot machines, but in an unprecedented arrangement approved by legislators in April last year, those machines were to be set on the Resorts World New York casino floor in Jamaica, Queens.
Opponents of any casino planned by Suffolk OTB have met the company with protests and lawsuits at every turn. The company previously had their eye on Medford and Belmont Park before eventually deciding on Islandia. It has been unclear from the outset whether the “grassroots” opposition was inspired or funded by competing casino interests.
The slot machines at Jake’s 58 saw gamblers place some $169.3 million worth of bets in June, $210m in July, and over $219m in August.
Basing his opinion on the fact that no other hotels on Long Island require slot revenues to operate the judge said that no such finding that casinos are customarily incidental to hotel operations was possible.