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Suffolk OTB mulls alternative sites for video lottery casino

Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. is considering “two or three” alternatives to the planned site in Medford for its video slot casino, OTB President Phil Nolan said Thursday.

Nolan confirmed that one of the sites under consideration is the 278-room Marriott Hotel in Islandia, which Newsday reported in January as under consideration amid lawsuits and community opposition over the Medford location. Nolan declined to disclose the other possible locations.

“We would only go to other locations if it’s a better deal for the people of this county in terms of revenue and employment,” Nolan said.

The video slot machine casino would provide a guaranteed $2 million to the county in the first year and $3 million in the second year while enabling OTB to emerge from Chapter 9 bankruptcy, according to court documents.

Suffolk OTB already has spent $10.95 million to purchase 31 acres in Medford and $2 million to $3 million on design, approvals and environmental work at the Medford location, Nolan said Thursday. He said OTB currently employs 250 people and would employ 300 to 350 more if the video lottery terminals are built.

Medford residents have sued to stop the casino project, arguing that it hasn’t gotten proper approvals from the town of Brookhaven and would increase crime and traffic.

At a Suffolk legislative committee hearing in Hauppauge Thursday, residents also complained that OTB has stopped posting the dates and minutes of its public board meetings.

“The process has been less than transparent,” said Brett Houdek, president of the Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association. “We’ve had some surprises during this process.”

Annette Kattau, a member of the association, said, “It’s time for them to fail. They bring nothing but ills to our neighborhoods.”

Nolan told lawmakers he would start posting meeting times and minutes.

Delaware North, a private company that would operate the casino and is providing financing for the venture, is leading the search for a different site, Nolan said. A spokesman for Delaware North declined to comment.

Suffolk OTB lost $3.5 million last year on its horse racing operation, said Suffolk OTB vice president Tony Pancella told lawmakers Thursday.

Legis. Rob Calarco (D-Patchogue), whose district includes Medford, had asked OTB leadership to give an update on the casino’s status.

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