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Floral Park lawyer queries NY board over Belmont Park slots

A woman plays a video lottery terminal Oct.

A woman plays a video lottery terminal Oct. 16, 2014, at Tioga Downs, in upstate Nichols, N.Y. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

An attorney for the Village of Floral Park has written to a state board that oversees the New York Racing Association, outlining legal concerns with Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.’s proposed video-gaming parlor at Belmont Park.

Attorney Michael Murphy, with the Manhattan law firm of Beveridge & Diamond, wrote in a Feb. 23 letter to the state’s Franchise Oversight Board that a 2001 provision of state tax law that authorized video-lottery terminals across the state expressly prohibited a Belmont casino.

Murphy said OTB wants to “circumvent” that law by using a “recapture” provision in the state’s lease of the Belmont property to NYRA to build a temporary gaming parlor on an 8-acre parcel north of Hempstead Turnpike.

OTB needs state legislation to build a permanent 100,000-square-foot casino in Belmont’s western grandstand.

While the lease provision allows Belmont to be licensed to a developer for VLTs, a hotel, resort or spa, Murphy said it would still require an amendment to the tax law.

In addition, the five-member Franchise Oversight Board, which represents NYRA in real estate matters, must put the land out for competitive bidding, he said.

An OTB spokesman said the agency’s attorneys were reviewing the letter.

Murphy added that the Franchise Oversight Board is required to conduct environmental reviews of both the temporary and permanent gaming sites before authorizing the “recapture” provision. The State Environmental Quality Review Act reviews, he said, must assess both the environmental and socioeconomic impact of the projects.

“The communities surrounding Belmont Park have the right to understand the scope and impacts of development on both parcels,” Murphy wrote.

OTB has yet to formerly notify the board or the New York State Gaming Commission of its plans to build a VLT parlor at Belmont, said Lee Park, a spokesman for the commission.

Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy said that once OTB formally makes that request, the village plans to file suit.

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