Suffolk OTB has all but dropped plans to build a video lottery mini-casino in Medford because of “obstructive behavior” by Brookhaven Town officials, an OTB attorney said Wednesday.
OTB officials are pursuing a new plan to build a casino with video lottery terminals at a hotel in an unidentified community, attorney Christopher F. Graham said during a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn.
Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. plans to build a temporary casino at the new site in three to four months that will eventually be part of the permanent structure, Graham said.
He told federal Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge Carla E. Craig that the struggling OTB abandoned the Medford site because Brookhaven officials “have continued, obviously, to obstruct” the plan. He said OTB plans to sell the Medford property, a former movie theater site.
Many town officials and Medford residents opposed the casino, expressing concerns such as traffic and crime. Craig last year ordered OTB to seek approvals from Brookhaven and Suffolk County.
“One of the reasons for seeking another location was the obstructive behavior of the Town of Brookhaven,” Graham said. He did not elaborate.
Brookhaven officials declined to comment, a town spokesman said.
Graham said OTB officials have had “extensive” conversations with local officials representing the area of the new casino site.
He said he could not disclose its location because of confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements.
A casino opponent, Brett Houdek, who attended the court hearing, said he was convinced the VLT facility would not be built in Medford. He said Brookhaven officials had done their jobs by questioning the Medford plan.
“That’s not obstruction. That’s a town enforcing their local ordinances,” he said outside court.
Graham said the new location would be revealed when the site is purchased by Delaware North, the Buffalo-based company developing the casino for OTB. He said he could not estimate when that would be.
Delaware North plans to buy and operate the hotel and lease space to OTB for the casino, Graham said. Building the new casino is expected to cost $34 million, he said. Parking shortages would limit a temporary casino at the site to having 250 to 300 VLT machines, he said.
“We believe this is a locality that certainly wants a VLT facility,” Graham told Craig.
“That’s what you believed in Brookhaven,” Craig said in response.