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Suozzi queries Mangano on 'rumors' of VLT's at Nassau Hub
Democratic County Executive candidate Thomas Suozzi on Friday called on his opponent in the November election, Republican County Executive Edward Mangano, to deny “rumors” that he intends to put 1,000 electronic slot machines at the Nassau Coliseum site.
Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin said Suozzi was leveling “false accusations. There will not be VLTs at the Hub.”
Administration officials said there video lottery terminals are being targeted for the 56,000-square-foot Race Palace, an off-track betting site in Plainview.
On Friday, Suozzi, a former two-term county executive, wrote to Mangano about “rumors emanating from Republican circles” that he plans to put slots on the 77-acre Hub site.
“Please confirm or deny the county’s intentions regarding gambling at the Hub so we can put an end to the spread of these rumors,” Suozzi wrote.
Town of Hempstead spokesman Mike Deery said the preapproved zoning for the Hub site does not permit gambling.
Nassau OTB president Joseph Cairo said he will release a Request for Qualifications by the end of the month for a firm to conduct a feasibility study of equipping the Race Palace with VLTs. Cairo hopes to open the gambling site by early 2015.
Mangano’s multiyear budget calls for $19 million in revenue from VLTs in 2015.
Nassau and Suffolk received authorization for up to 1,000 VLTs in each county from the State Legislature in June as part of a deal to allow a voter referendum on upstate casinos.
Suozzi’s letter said Park Strategies, the lobbying firm run by former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, represents Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer chosen to renovate the Coliseum, as well as Nassau OTB.
D’Amato spokeswoman Dana Sanneman said Park Strategies did not represent Ratner during the recent bidding for the Coliseum redevelopment.
But she said the firm “helped to facilitate introductory meetings” between the developer and members of the county legislature after Ratner won the arena competition last month.
The legislature will vote on the Coliseum lease on Monday.
D’Amato had played an active role in encouraging Islanders owner Charles Wang to buy the team in 1999. Years later, Wang turned down D’Amato’s request to involve his brother, Armand — an attorney and lobbyist — in the Lighthouse Project, Wang’s effort to redevelop the Coliseum area.
D’Amato subsequently became a strong critic of the Lighthouse effort, which failed to gain approval from the Town of Hempstead.
The size of the Lighthouse, not politics, motivated his opposition, D'Amato said.