August 12, 2016
Tom Precious, Blood-Horse

Stalled for several years, a push by Suffolk County Off-Track Betting Corp. to open a casino on Long Island was given crucial backing the morning of Aug. 12 by the village board of Islandia.

Under state law, the casino will be permitted to hold a maximum of 1,000 video lottery terminals. The OTB has a contract with Delaware North Cos. to operate the casino.

The Islandia village vote was a unanimous 4-0, Newsday reported. The newspaper reported the village’s mayor, Allan Dorman, as saying that the new facility, which could be open in four months, will have minimal community impact. The casino is to be located in an existing Marriott hotel in the village near the Long Island Expressway.

Newsday reported Dorman saying the facility “will be a hotel operating VLTs, not the other way around. For one, there will be no Vegas-style shows at the hotel. Tony Orlando is not coming to Islandia.”

It was not immediately clear after the vote if there are any further hurdles—of which there have been many over the past three years—that could still slow the OTB casino plan.

In a geographic and political compromise, the state Legislature in 2013 approved letting the OTB corporations in Nassau and Suffolk counties open casinos with 1,000 VLTs apiece as part of a broader casino expansion effort that, for now, is focused on four upstate regions of the state. Community opposition in the two counties, however, slowed efforts by OTB officials to locate the facilities. Nassau threw its hands up and has a tentative deal to locate its 1,000 VLT allotment at Aqueduct’s New York Resorts World casino, for which the OTB will receive annual payments.

It is also uncertain what impact the Suffolk OTB casino will have on the casino operations at Aqueduct. A casino at the Islandia hotel would be located within 50 miles of Aqueduct.