State lawmakers opposed to a planned video lottery and casino with 1,000 video slot machines in Medford joined dozens of others Saturday morning in protest against the gambling venue.
"Look, we're not prudes," said Assemb. Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), who reiterated that he plans to sponsor another bill as he did in the last session to rescind the authorization of video lottery parlors in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
"We understand there is gambling . . . but we should not tolerate the expansion of gambling in the form of video lottery terminals to bail out political patronage machines that are the off-track betting corporations."
Suffolk OTB is depending on revenue from the video lottery terminals, which were authorized under state law, to help the agency emerge from bankruptcy and turn a profit.
Suffolk OTB, whose head is appointed by the Suffolk County Legislature, paid $10.95 million for the site of the proposed Medford casino.
Suffolk OTB has also asked a federal bankruptcy court to force Brookhaven Town or the state to grant a building permit for the Medford site. A decision has not been made.
"The negativity that comes with casino gambling far outweighs whatever benefits people think they see," Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) said at the protest. He represents other municipalities in Brookhaven Town, including Shirley, Mastic and Mastic Beach.
The protest was one of 125 events held nationwide in conjunction with the nonprofit group Stop Predatory Gambling.
Protesters gathered at Route 112 and Peconic Avenue in Medford carried signs that read "Don't Gamble With Our Future" and "No Casinos in Medford."
"A casino is inappropriate in Medford," said Brett Houdek, secretary of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association, who also believes constructing a gambling venue violates Brookhaven Town code.
Medford resident Deanna Wade, 58, who attended Saturday's protest, said a casino would increase crime, traffic, cause gambling addiction and lower property values.
"Maybe someone who isn't addicted to gambling will get addicted," she said.