The Casino Solution 2.0


I remember sitting in the packed auditorium of Carle Place High School on a very cold January night back in 2015. I was one of the attendees at the Carle Place Civic Association, where the main topic of discussion was the proposal by Nassau Off Track Betting (OTB)’s to turn the former Fortunoff’s department store into a casino.

The crowd was definitely anti-casino and came out in droves to let the OTB’s officials present at the meeting know that the proposal was not welcome in the community. Children bearing signs captioned “Kids Are Against The Casino” and “Don’t Gamble With Our Future”, along with statements by the Superintendent of schools condemned the idea.

The association’s president, John Hommel, informed the officials that elevated crime, increased traffic congestion, and home-devaluation would not be tolerated by the community, and stressed that the residents would determine their fate, not OTB.

Village of Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro expressed concern over the hardship that local business owners would face stemming from the casino and mentioned that he would call upon then-Governor Andrew Cuomo to look into the matter.

This was not the first time that the casino debate had surfaced in the area; years before, back in 2009 I believe, business mogul and New York Islanders owner Charles Wang included a casino as part of his proposed 60 story transformation of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, dubbed “The Lighthouse Project”. After much vigorous debates and opposition from Nassau County residents, the project was officially dropped in the summer of 2011.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the impact of casinos on local property values is “unambiguously” negative, they do not revive local economies. They act as parasites upon them. Communities located within 10 miles of a casino exhibit double the rate of problem gambling, and suffer higher rates of home foreclosure and other forms of economic distress and domestic violence. It therefore baffles me as to why would Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman believe that the casino solution is the right for medicine for those of us residing in this section of the county; a “solution” that we have rejected twice in the past.

The County Executive should understand that if it is wrong for other communities it is not right for ours.

— Submitted by Chester McGibbon, Westbury

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