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Bellone Wants Details On Suffolk OTB’s Purchase Of Jake’s 58

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone blasted the sale of Jake's 58 Casino and Hotel in Islandia to the region's betting agency without consulting the county government about the impact of the deal on taxpayers.
J.D. Allen
/
WSHU Public Radio
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone blasted the sale of Jake's 58 Casino and Hotel in Islandia to the region's betting agency without consulting the county government about the impact of the deal on taxpayers.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has called for an independent investigation of how the regional betting agency plans to operate Jake's 58 Casino and Hotel in Islandia. Last week, the Suffolk County Off-Track Betting Corporation purchased Jake's 58 from casino operator Delaware North for $120 million.

Bellone said Suffolk OTB went forward with the deal without providing details about its financial plans to run the casino.

"Every dollar in this operation that is not spent wisely, every dollar that is wasted on unnecessary expenses is a dollar that is being stolen from the pockets of Suffolk County taxpayers,” Bellone said.

Suffolk OTB is expected to save nearly $13 million a year in fees that it paid to Delaware North to manage the casino for them. Jake’s 58 generates millions of dollars in revenue a year.

"This acquisition is a tremendous achievement for our corporation. It will allow us to deliver even more to our beneficiaries in the state and county while continuing to provide a world-class guest experience,” James LaCarrubba, Suffolk OTB’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

He said the purchase received consent from the New York State Gaming Commission and other regulator approvals. Bellone said the county last heard of Suffolk OTB’s plans last month.

The betting agency generated $7.25 million for Suffolk County in the first quarter of 2021, the largest single transfer to the county in the agency’s history, said LaCarrubba. “We are very confident that Suffolk OTB will exceed the county's total budgeted estimate for 2021,” he said.

Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer Rob Calarco and Ben Carenza, the Long Island area director of Teamsters local 237 union, have also backed the deal between Suffolk OTB and Delaware North.

“We recognize that Suffolk OTB will provide better management and a better return to the taxpayers,” Carenza said in a statement. “Suffolk OTB is creating hundreds of good local union jobs and providing record returns to Suffolk County taxpayers. Surely there are better things for politicians to spend their time on than an agency that's working."

The quasi-public betting agency declared bankruptcy in 2011 after owing more than $10 million to creditors.

"This agency is assuming $120 million in debt. Why is that concerning? Why does that raise eyebrows? Well this is an agency that has just recently emerged from bankruptcy,” Bellone said.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.