Skelos to seek video betting at Belmont Park

State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville). (March 25, 2011)

State Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville). (March 25, 2011) (Credit: AP)

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State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos hopes to use talks over the future of Off-Track Betting parlors to bolster Belmont Park racetrack.

Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) told Newsday Friday he hopes to persuade Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) to embrace the installation of slots-like gambling machines at the Elmont track. They have already been approved for Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.

"There are going to be negotiations at some point this year concerning OTBs . . . and I think VLTs [video lottery terminals] at Belmont will fit into those discussions," Skelos said after addressing 160 business executives at Hofstra University.

There is increased urgency to address the financially troubled betting parlors now that Suffolk OTB has filed for bankruptcy and New York City OTB has shut down.

Skelos, who has long championed the expansion of gambling at Belmont despite opposition from Silver, said on Friday that a VLT operation at the track would spur development of a hotel, restaurants and entertainment businesses.

"It would be a boon for the Elmont community and other neighboring communities in terms of revenue and jobs," he said in an interview. Skelos' senatorial district includes neighborhoods near Belmont.

Skelos also said Cuomo would get the regional economic development councils he proposed in the 2011-12 budget despite initial opposition from Republican senators. "The situation was there were no criteria for how money would be spent," Skelos said. "That's going to be worked out."

In its budget resolution the Senate didn't fund the councils, while the Assembly did.

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