Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano opposes a casino with 1,000 video lottery terminals at the site of the large, vacant Fortunoff store in south Westbury, but he knows he can't stop it. Only the Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp. and the state Gaming Commission have any say in site selection.
That's a good thing, actually, because this is a fight Mangano cannot afford to win. The county executive's future budgets desperately need the millions of dollars the slot parlor will provide, but he says he doesn't like the site OTB and the state commission chose on Old Country Road.
His preference? OTB's Race Palace in Plainview, already rejected by the organizations empowered to decide. Mangano has supported that location for as long as the idea of VLTs in Nassau County has been seriously discussed. But the Race Palace is too small, already hosts a busy racing teletheater and restaurant that use the available space, and has its own traffic problems. It also has no room for 1,000 additional parking spots, while the Fortunoff site has an excess of capacity. Building a garage at the Race Palace would cost at least $25 million, according to OTB officials, money that then would not go to the county's bottom line.
Officials involved in the deal say there is not the slightest chance the slot parlor will be located at the Race Palace. And if the Race Palace location were under consideration, it would face as much opposition as the Fortunoff site. Any site in Nassau would.
In a year when county legislative and town offices are on the ballot, local officials are bellowing full-throatedly in opposition to the Fortunoff site. For most it's pandering. And they do so without providing a alternative site for a casino that both Nassau County and Nassau OTB are counting on to avoid financial ruin.