THE BLINKEN REPORT: Short-Term Relief, Long-Term Disappointment

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government published an extensive report regarding state revenues from gambling by Lucy Dadayan in April 2016. This report is too extensive to detail here, but is available HERE.

NASSAU VIDEO LOTTERY TERMINAL DEAL NEEDS CLOSE SCRUTINY

This article written by Joye Brown was originally published in Newsday on April 4th. In it, Brown outlines the basic parameters made public in the initial agreement between Nassau County OTB and Genting and expresses concern over how much money this deal will actually be seen by Nassua County. Read full article.

EMAIL MESSAGE FROM SENATOR JACK MARTINS

The following text was sent on March 31, 2016 with the subject line: Belmont VLT Facility Update

 As you know, a Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) facility was proposed to be built at Belmont Park.  Many residents were concerned about the impact such a facility would have on their community, while others worried about potential service cuts and tax increases should the revenue Nassau County was depending on this facility to generate not materialize.  A solution has been developed to address both concerns.


An agreement I negotiated with Nassau OTB and Genting Group (which operates Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct) would put an end to the proposed VLT facility at Belmont Park, or anywhere else in Nassau County, while still ensuring that Nassau County receives immediate, recurring revenue for programs and services.


Under the terms of the agreement, Nassau OTB would give up its right to install up to 1,000 VLTs at a facility within Nassau County. That allotment would be transferred to Genting Group for use at its existing Aqueduct VLT facility.  In exchange, Nassau OTB will receive annual payments from Genting Group which equal the revenue OTB projected its Nassau VLT facility to generate for Nassau County. Genting Group will provide Nassau OTB with $9 million in both 2016 and 2017, $25 million in 2018, and increase that $25 million payment by the cost of inflation each year thereafter.

This is the best case scenario for the Floral Park community and Nassau County as a whole; receiving substantial, recurring revenues to support County programs and services with zero impact to the quality of life.

Thank you to all those who worked reasonably, constructively, and collaboratively in good faith to help resolve this issue. Working together, we have found a solution which will benefit everyone.

Sincerely,
JACK M. MARTINS
 

Deal Struck to End Nassau Casino Plan

WE DID IT!

This article is quoted in its entirety from an original publication in LI Newsday on March 30, 2016 by Yancey Roy and Robert Brodsky. It can also be read in the original form HERE

ALBANY — Nassau County will transfer its authority to install 1,000 video slot machines to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens in exchange for annual payments that will total at least $41 million over the first three years, under a deal being discussed as part of a state budget agreement, lawmakers said late Wednesday. The deal would resolve thorny problems for the county, Nassau Off-Track Betting Corp. and Aqueduct.


The arrangement would solve Nassau’s problem of finding a location for a video slots parlor — which has been met with staunch opposition at more than one proposed site — while guaranteeing the county a revenue stream through OTB. Further, it alleviates Aqueduct’s concern with facing slots competition from nearby Belmont Park, the racetrack where Nassau recently proposed to use for slots.

Under the proposed terms, Genting New York LLC, which operates the Resorts World casino at Aqueduct, would get the authority to add 1,000 “video lottery terminals” to the 5,000 it already has at the track.

Resorts World would pay Nassau County Off-Track Betting $9 million in 2016, $9 million in $2017 and $25 million in 2018. Future payments would be $25 million plus an amount adjusted for inflation, officials said.

“It’s a fantastic deal,” said Sen. Jack Martins (R-Westbury). “It’s a deal that works for all sides. Nassau County gets the benefit of the revenue stream without having the facility in Nassau. … Obviously, no place in Nassau County was willing to take the VLTs, so at some point, we had to realize that and, frankly, this was a great opportunity.”

The transfer would be included as part of a state budget deal lawmakers are negotiating at the State Capitol. They were trying to finalize it by Thursday.

“If we have a state budget, this will be in it,” Martins said.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano called it a “good resolution.”

Opponents of the Belmont casino expressed relief at the deal.

Assemb. Michaelle Solages (D-Elmont), who sponsored legislation to kill the VLT authority, said the agreement “balances the need for revenue with the need to protect the community.”

Floral Park Mayor Thomas Tweedy, a vocal critic, called the agreement “the best possible deal for Nassau County and its residents.”

Nassau and Suffolk counties received authority to operate up to 1,000 video slot machines under a 2013 gambling-expansion law. But the counties have run into road blocks with proposed sites.

Nassau OTB first selected the vacant Fortunoff building in Westbury, but abandoned it after a wave of protests. Last fall, OTB switched its sites to Belmont, figuring slots would be compatible at a horse racing track. But again, neighbors have held vocal rallies denouncing the proposal. Meanwhile, the county has been missing out on tens of millions of dollars in potential revenue.

MORE SUPPORT IN THE NYS SENATE AND THE NYS ASSEMBLY 

Click here for the story on Fios 1.

Click here for the story on Fios 1.

Senator Tony Avella (D-Whitestone) introduced a bill in the state senate on March 17, to repeal state authorization for video lottery terminals across Long Island. This proposal matches a bill already introduced in the assembly, and brings the opposition movement one step further in this fight. Introduction to both the assembly and the senate  does not guarantee the bill will be passed. You can read Newsday's article here and watch the story on Fios 1.  

A New Voice in the State Senate

LIHerald's Steve Smirti reported on Adam Haber's strong opposition to the VLT gambling parlor planned for Belmont Park. Adam Haber is the New York State Democratic candidate and has come out strongly in opposition of this project. He met with Floral Park residents late February, contesting the county's suggestion that revenues will benefit the communities and spoke about the detrimental effects this plan would have on the communities. “They don’t even incorporate the damage it does to families who are afflicted with compulsive gambling,” Haber said. “It’s a cancer in my opinion, I can’t be anymore blatant about it.” Read Smirti's article, originally published March 9th, HERE.

Floral Park lawyer CONTACTS NYS FRANCHISE OVERSIGHT BOARD REGARDING VLTS LEGALITY

Building a casino at Belmont Part is against the law. On February 23, Beverage and Diamond, a law firm retained by Floral Park Village, sent a letter to the Franchise Oversight Board advising them of a 2001 provision of state tax law  that expressly prohibited a Belmont casino. OTB has yet to submit official plans to the board or to the New York State Gambling Commission. The Belmont Task Force and the coalition created to put a stop to this project, plan to fight them every step of the way. Newsday published an article on the topic here.

MARCH IS PROBLEM GAMBLING AWARENESS MONTH!

Download NYPG free poster.

Download NYPG free poster.

The New York Council on Problem Gabling hopes to raise awareness of problem gambling by offering training opportunities, educational resources for individuals of all ages, and support options offered across the state. Visit the website to learn more about problem gambling, and to understand why VLT's being offered by the government as a way to gain revenue from the people they have pledged to support is a backwards way of doing government. http://nyproblemgambling.org

Proceeds from lottery games aren't keeping pace with the higher education costs they were supposed to pay

Increasing reports indicate that states' gamble on gambling just isn't paying off. In this U.S. News article published March 2, 2016, Susan Montoya Bryan reports on how lowered lottery sales and revenues, coupled with rising costs of education will likely result in increased debt for students. Read more here.

Casinos Divide Opinions In Long Island Communities

On February 16, Public Radio Group WSHU's Joe Ryder published this piece on the differing opinions surrounding the VLT proposal at Belmont. “The response of our residents and our community was immediate and visceral," [FP Mayor Tom Tweedy] said. "Our business community is completely against it. We’ve been building a coalition of communities and organizations here in town. Our Floral Park chamber of commerce has studied the issues and have come out completely against it.”

Projection: Smaller revenue for planned Belmont casino

"A proposed video lottery casino at Belmont Park would generate $44 million less in revenue than had been projected for a Westbury VLT casino site that was abandoned last year following community protests, according to consultants for Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp." The entire article, written by Richard Brodsky in Newsday, February 13, 2016 goes on to discuss OTB's assertion of how Belmont is the best location for VLT's, while the current reports clearly display the contrary. Read the article here.

All Things Political: Casino at Belmont Park a bad bet

"In summary, residents are expected to spend (lose) up to $150 million, so the county can gain around $20 million in revenue." - Adam Haber breaks down why gambling in Nassau County is not a good bet at all in this article originally published in The Island Now on February 11, 2016. 

N.Y. Legislation Would Halt OTB Casino Plans

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, chairman of the Assembly racing and wagering committee, has introduced a measure banning casinos by Nassau and Suffolk Counties' OTBs. We are grateful to Assemblyman Pretlow, who is clearly seeing the bigger picture here. The bill memo reads: 

"The addition of video lottery gaming at OTB sites in Suffolk and Nassau counties is an unnecessary expansion of gambling, and will have negative fiscal and social effects on these communities, rather than a risk-free source of revenue....The lure of easy money from 2,000 video lottery gaming terminals in Suffolk and Nassau counties will permanently alter the character of Long Island communities, and expanded gambling-related social problems that will far outweigh expected revenues...'

Read Tom Precious' article regarding this bill, published on BloodHorse.com, Feb 3.

Belmont casino plan draws dueling rallies

The Island Now covered the rally here. Opponents and supporters of Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.’s plans for a video casino at Belmont Park held back-to-back rallies at the racetrack Saturday. (Originally posted on Thursday, February 4, 2016 by Noah Manskar)

COMMUNITY members spoke once again at the legislature meeting

Residents of Floral Park, Elmont, Bellerose, and Valley Stream, to name a few, spoke out at the Nassau County Legislature meeting on January 25, 2016. Speakers and Legislator Solages called for an emergency vote to remove and replace OTB Board members immediately, but the call to action was to no avail. Thank you to the members who stood up and spoke on all of our behalf. You can watch the entire meeting here.


Rep. Rice Statement Opposing VLT Casino at Belmont Park

Released 1/5/16. Our thanks to Representative Kathleen Rice:

“Over the past week, many residents and community leaders in my district have expressed serious and well-founded concerns about plans for a video gambling parlor at Belmont Park. I share those concerns, and I feel strongly that this project is not in the community’s best interests. This decision-making process lacked transparency and failed to include any input from residents, giving them all the more reason to feel that this facility is being forced into their backyards by people who won’t have to live with the consequences. The supposed benefits to the community seem like an afterthought, a vague promise of good things to come in order to distract from the fact that bringing video gambling to Belmont will likely lead to an increase in crime, traffic and demand for public services and a decline in quality of life for families and homeowners in Floral Park and Elmont. Instead of relying on people to lose bets at Belmont Park, let’s invest our time and resources in long-term, community-based economic development that creates good jobs, spurs innovation, and strengthens the entire community.” - U.S. Representative Kathleen Rice, originally published on Rep. Rice's website.

Nassau County's Bad Bet on Gambling

Originally published on January 1, 2016, New York Times Editorial section.

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/01/01/opinion/nassau-countys-bad-bet-on-gambling.html?referer=

Cosmos submit revised Belmont Park soccer stadium plan

Originally published/updated on December 13, 2015 11:57 PM
By Robert Brodsky  robert.brodsky@newsday.com 

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/cosmos-submit-revised-belmont-park-soccer-stadium-plan-1.11224759

Floral Park neighbors take casino fight to Legislature

Pulished in Newsday, January 4, 2016 6:02 PM

http://longisland.news12.com/news/floral-park-neighbors-take-casino-fight-to-legislature-1.11291023

FP Mayor Tweedy's Letter to OTB

This letter was sent on December 23, 2015 to J. Cairo from Mayor Tweedy. Read here.

Nassau municipalities to file suit against Westbury casino plan at Fortunoff site

Originally published/updated January 29, 2015 9:53 PM
By Robery Brodsky and Scott Eidler 

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/nassau-municipalities-to-file-suit-against-westbury-casino-plan-at-fortunoff-site-1.9879966