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Suffolk OTB deal: Bellone tried to hike revenue late in the game

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone made a last-ditch attempt to get extra revenue out of casino developer Delaware North in a closed-door meeting late last month, well after Suffolk OTB officials had finalized the contract, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Bellone, the sources say, went so far as to say he personally did not favor gambling, but then he pressed the developer to provide the county with more cash. Bellone, according to the sources, also claimed his office was not consulted in talks even though Joanne Mineri, economic development commissioner, and Sammy Chu, labor and consumer affairs commissioner, were part of the selection committee. However, Delaware North officials turned the county executive down flat.

The 2014 budget already has forecast the casino will open this fall and generate $4 million by year’s end, even though a site for the 1,000-machine electronic slot emporium has yet to be picked.

Deputy County Executive Jon Schneider acknowledged that Bellone took a hard line. “If we are going to have a casino in Suffolk, taxpayers must get the maximum benefit and he made that feeling quite clear,” he said.

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