Written by Steve Mosco, firstname.lastname@example.org Friday, 14 February 2014 10:12
After some consideration and plenty of oppositon, Nassau County’s off-track betting agency has decided not to roll the dice on Plainview as a potential site for video gaming terminals.
In a letter from the Nassau Regional Off Track Betting Corporation to Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto, OTB general counsel Arthur Walsh said the state authorized 1,000 video devices will not appear at the Race Palace on Round Swamp Road.
“The decision is based on multiple factors,” wrote Walsh. “Particularly your forceful advocacy on behalf of residents living in the vicinity of the Plainview facility. The community concerns that you expressed made it abundantly clear that the existing tele-theater may not be a suitable location for video lottery gaming.”State lawmakers approved a deal in June that would allow Nassau and Suffolk counties to each operate 1,000 electronic gaming machines, known as video lottery terminals (VLTs), in Las Vegas-style slot machine parlors, set to open in the coming year. These parlors would operate out of restaurants and bars.
However, local groups like Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community took to the streets and petitioned local leaders to urge Nassau OTB to look elsewhere for a place to open a gaming facility. Carol Meschkow, president of Concerned Citizens, collected close to 700 signatures on her petition and lobbied local leaders to bet against the facility.
“This was something that was just out of character with the neighborhood,” said Meschkow, noting that there are several schools within a half-mile of the Race Palace. “We look to provide a communtiy which focuses on raising children in an area with a suburban quality of life. A gaming facilty like this would have been totally out of character with that vision.”
Meschkow said her organization is not against the idea of such a facility, but that this type of business is better suited in a different location.
“We’re not opposed to video gaming at all. If they find an area that embraces the idea and is appropriate for the area, we are in favor of it,” she said. “We understand the state needs money. That is not what we were opposed to.”
And Nassau OTB said it heard that message loud and clear.
“Being a good neighbor to all of the communities in which we operate remains one of our foremost priorities,” said Walsh in his letter to Venditto. “On behalf of Nassau Downs OTB, I wish to thank you for the valuable input and wise counsel that enabled us to make an informed decision, not only for the residents of Plainview, but also for our corporation and our present and future patrons.”
In his response, Venditto said he commends Nassau OTB for putting the concerns of the communtiy first on its list of priorities.
“I am pleased that Nassau OTB has decided not to place video gaming devices at its Plainview site,” said Venditto. “It is especially satisfying that Nassau OTB highlighted community concerns as a determining factor in its decision, and it should be commended for acting as a good neighbor. This is yet another example of how concerned residents, working together with responsive elected officials, can protect our quality of life.”