Long Island will get video slots - even if statewide casino vote fails

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Long Island will get two new video-slot machine parlors — even if a broader, statewide referendum to allow casinos across New York fails this fall — under a gambling-expansion agreement announced by lawmakers Wednesday.

The gambling plan, reached midnight Tuesday, is expected to be ratified by rank-and-file state legislators Friday. It would authorize four upstate casinos. Voters then would have to approve, through a referendum, any expansion of non-Indian-run casinos in the state.

No matter the fate of the casino vote, Nassau and Suffolk counties still would be able to open one video-slot facility apiece, a Cuomo administration official said. Each would have a maximum of 1,000 machines, which are known as video lottery terminals (VLT).

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Off-track betting corporations in Nassau and Suffolk would operate the video slot machine centers, officials said. Nassau OTB has indicated its preferred location is its “Race Palace” in Plainview, a county official said. Suffolk didn’t immediately indicate a site preference.

If the referendum fails, the gambling bill authorizes a new “gaming commission” to site four more VLT parlors around the state — including potentially one in Nassau County, said Cuomo and legislative officials.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone hailed the agreement, saying he made a joint push with Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to get the counties in on the deal.

 “We have regional problems and I have been pleased to work closely with (Mangano) to seek regional solutions,” Bellone said in a statement. “The only way for Long Island to get our fair share from the state is for our two counties to speak with one voice. We look forward to this legislation passing and to work hard to get a facility operational.”

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Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and Assemb. Steven Englebright (D-Setauket) sponsored bills to allow Long Island to offer video slots.

 “These VLTs represent a great win for Long Island,” Boyle said. “It will keep Long Islanders on Long Island while bringing much needed revenue to our local governments.”


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