Casinos Divide Opinions In Long Island Communities

Feb 16, 2016

American Pharoah, top right, with Victor Espinoza up approaches the finish line well ahead of the field during the 147th running of the Belmont Stakes horse race at Belmont Park, Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Elmont, N.Y.
Credit (AP Photo/Garry Jones)

There’s an ongoing controversy over the siting of two casinos on Long Island. Both Nassau and Suffolk OTB would operate Video Lottery Terminal casinos, which include slot machines and table games played on screens. While both county executives support the VLT casinos, residents are torn about the impact they will have on their communities. One of the proposed casinos would be built at Belmont Park. 

Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy, whose village borders Belmont Park, believes the casino would a have negative impact on crime, traffic, and local businesses. Last month, Tweedy helped organize a 2000 person rally against the casino.

“The response of our residents and our community was immediate and visceral," he said. "Our business community is completely against it. We’ve been building a coalition of communities and organizations here in town. Our Floral Park chamber of commerce has studied the issues and have come out completely against it.”

The casino would be built in the village of Elmont. Patrick Nicolosi, President of the Elmont East End Civic Association, disagrees.

"The Casino at the racetrack at Belmont will create thousands of jobs and it will have a positive effect on other jobs in other places in my community such as restaurants and shopping and so-forth." he said. 

In the three years since Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature approved the casino, the site of the proposed Nassau project has been moved three times.

Despite the controversy, Nassau County executive Ed Mangano has included $20 million dollars of potential revenue in his 2016 budget proposal.

Since Belmont is on state owned land, the legislature has to approve the project. Tweedy said he is ready to sue if they do.