A group of protesters from Suffolk County, New York rallied on Saturday against the establishment of a small casino in Medford. Residents of the area, lawmakers, and other involved individuals gathered together to voice their disapproval of the project.
The Suffolk Off-Track Betting Corporation had previously revealed plans to build a mini-casino in Medford. It purchased a 31-acre parcel that had formerly been a movie theater for the amount of $10 million. The projected gambling property would spread over 100,000 square feet and would feature video lottery terminals and casino slots. Suffolk OTB has repeatedly called for regional lawmakers to approve the construction of the facility so that it can open doors sometime next year. Environmental checks have already been carried out.
The company and its plan has been meeting vocal opposition since it had first been introduced. Residents and legislators expressed fears that a property of this kind would have extremely negative impact on the local community. According to them, its launch would result in increased crime and traffic as well as in more people showing symptoms of gambling addiction.
As mentioned above, the Saturday rally was attended by several legislators as well. Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor) pointed out that the negative effects of casino gambling in Medford would far exceed the benefits people believe they would receive.
Furthermore, Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-St. James), who proposed earlier this year a bill that would have rescinded the authorization of the proposed gambling venues in Medford and Nassau, announced yesterday that he would re-submit his bill during the upcoming legislative session. The legislator expressed hopes that this time it would get the necessary approval.
In March, the majority of Suffolk County officials voted against Assemblyman Fitzpatrick’s bill. They explained their decision to nix the proposed legislation with the fact that a gambling venue in Medford would generate revenue for the region and jobs for residents.
Here it is important to note that Suffolk OTB is looking to emerge from bankruptcy. Medford residents said during the Saturday protest that they would not like to host a gambling venue in order to help a struggling off-track betting company, considered by many a “political patronage machine.”