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Democrats in Nassau legislature file bill to remove OTB board

From left, Nassau County Legislators Judi Jacobs, Siela

From left, Nassau County Legislators Judi Jacobs, Siela Bynoe, Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Kevan Abrahams, Carrié Solages, Laura Curran and Ellen Birnbaum call on Nassau OTB to say where it will put a temporary VLT parlor before lawmakers vote on the county 's 2016 budget on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015 in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau Legis. Carrié Solages has filed a bill to remove the board of the Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. and replace them with opponents of a proposed video gambling parlor at Belmont Park.

Solages’ bill, filed Friday, says the OTB board “forfeited the trust and confidence of the legislature” by selecting Belmont without any community support or public meetings.

“It’s unfair to the people and children of Elmont, Floral Park and surrounding areas that their electeds have acted as if there is nothing they can do,” said Solages (D-Elmont).

Solages urged presiding officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) to bring the bill up for a vote at the Jan. 25 legislative meeting. He said Democrats will support three new appointments to the OTB board if they oppose building a video lottery terminal parlor anywhere in the county.

“It is not the role of the Nassau legislature to pick a location for the VLTs, nor to be used as a mechanism to reshuffle the board whenever there exists opposition,” Gonsalves said in a statement Tuesday. Legislative Republicans outnumber Democrats 12-7.

Democrats filed an identical bill last year when OTB proposed a gambling parlor at the vacant Fortunoff property in Westbury but the GOP majority refused to bring it to the floor. OTB abandoned the plan after sustained community protests.

The members of the OTB board — Republicans Joseph Bentivegna of Levittown and Frank DeStefano of Farmingdale, and Independence Party member Eric Harkin of Wantagh — were appointed in 2009 by the GOP legislative majority.

“Rather than threaten OTB board members and grandstanding before the public, Democratic legislators should advise OTB of specific concerns and join in the community benefits agreement process to reinvest VLT profits in Elmont and Floral Park,” the agency said in a statement.

OTB wants to build a 100,000-square-foot VLT parlor in Belmont’s western grandstand at a cost of about $75 million. The State Legislature must approve the project because it would be built on state land.

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