After spending three years trying unsuccessfully to build a mini-casino in Medford, Suffolk OTB officials thought they had found a friendlier new home for the betting parlor in Islandia.
But most residents of the village and some neighboring communities who attended a hearing Tuesday in Islandia Village Hall said they didn’t want the casino at the Islandia Marriott Long Island hotel.
The casino’s fate rests with the Islandia Village Board, which plans to vote Tuesday night on a special permit to add the betting parlor to the hotel.
OTB officials at the hearing heard many of the same arguments raised by Medford residents who had fought the casino plan there: that the facility could bring crime, traffic and prostitution to the village.
“How are you going to protect the children in your neighborhood?” said Eileen Panico, of Central Islip.
Delaware North, the Buffalo entertainment giant developing the betting parlor for OTB, plans to buy the Islandia Marriott and lease space for the casino to OTB.
Islandia Mayor Allan M. Dorman said during the hearing, which lasted nearly three hours, that revenue from the casino’s 1,000 video lottery terminals and OTB simulcast facility would help the village cut property taxes for its residents.
Dorman did not return a call seeking comment. Suffolk OTB president Phil Nolan declined to comment.
Residents of nearby communities such as Ronkonkoma and Central Islip joined Islandia residents in opposing the casino.
Bruce Edwards, president of the Ronkonkoma Civic Associaiton, said he believes traffic for the casino, at Exit 58 of the Long Island Expressway, would back up to his community, at Exit 59.
“It’s going to affect us, trafficwise,” Edwards said in a phone interview. “It’s nice to think everything stays within a jurisdiction, but it doesn’t.”
Edwards said Dorman’s comments appeared to suggest that the board would approve the casino. Other board members did not speak at the hearing.
“It was pretty obvious last night people weren’t in favor of that project,” Edwards said Wednesday. “We’re going to look at any legal remedies that are available to us,” he said, if the board approves the casino permit.
In a statement, Delaware North said the hotel “is ideally situated in a mostly non-residential area, and we will work with the community in Islandia just as we work closely with other communities in New York state and across the country where we operate very well-regarded gaming venues.”
Some Islandia residents favor the casino, saying it will bring jobs and help cut their taxes.
“You have someone who’s willing to take that hotel and improve on it and pay taxes for it. That’s important for the village,” said Thomas Brauner, one of 11 members from the village’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post who attended the hearing. “There’s going to be so many cameras, there’s not going to be any crime.”
“Islandia Village probably will benefit a lot,” said another VFW member, Victor Montanez of Islandia. “You have to give something a chance. You can’t go backwards.”