Village of Islandia officials authorized the opening of a mini-casino at the Marriott Hotel over objections of the plan’s opponents, who packed village hall for the brief special meeting on Friday morning.
Despite protests, the village board approved a permit for Buffalo-based Delaware North, a hospitality and gaming company, to operate up to 1,000 Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), two Suffolk Off-Track Betting kiosks, and OTB simulcasts at the hotel, located on the service road of the Long Island Expressway. Critics say the mini-casino will increase crime in the community, but the village touted its economic benefits. The approval would make it the first gambling parlor of its kind in Nassau or Suffolk counties.
“There will be no Vegas-style shows at the hotel,” Islandia Mayor Allan Dorman said in a statement, emphasizing that the mini-casino will have “minimal impact” on the community. “Tony Orlando is not coming to Islandia.”
The Suffolk OTB, which received authorization from New York State to build the VLTs, originally planned to construct the mini-casino in Medford, but later scrapped that plan and joined forces with Delaware North on the Islandia idea. Nassau Downs OTB backed off similar plans in Westbury, and then Elmont, before the state reportedly authorized a deal to transfer Nassau OTB’s VLT rights to Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens in a profit-sharing agreement.
“No casino!” chanted protesters, including one that was removed from the board meeting by security. Opponents plan to continue to fight the move.
The village, which had canceled a July vote on the permit, will have to decide whether or not to renew the permit every two years, officials said. Dorman said the mini-casino will create more than 200 jobs, with preference given to local residents, implement new traffic controls to minimize congestion, will have 24-hour security, and will reduce village taxes by 50 percent.
Critics questioned whether the tax relief will be negated by potentially decreasing property values. Suffolk OTB officials weren’t immediately available for comment on the permit approval.
“We are trying to be as good neighborly as we can,” Phil Nolan, president of the Suffolk OTB, which is emerging from bankruptcy, previously told the Press.
The Islandia min-casino is expected to be completed in about a year.