Tempers flare at Nassau gaming parlor meeting

About 250 supporters and opponents packed the Legislature hearing room for debate on an emergency resolution that would replace the current Nassau OTB board.

About 250 supporters and opponents packed the Legislature hearing room for debate on an emergency resolution that would replace the current Nassau OTB board. (1/25/16)

MINEOLA - Tempers flared and words flew during a heated Nassau Legislature meeting Monday on the proposed gambling parlor at Belmont Park.

About 250 supporters and opponents packed the Legislature hearing room for debate on an emergency resolution that would replace the current Nassau OTB board. The debate turned into a shouting match between Legislator Carrie Solages, the sponsor of the measure, and Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves.

Opponents of the video lottery terminal are calling for the removal of the Nassau OTB board as a strategy to halt the planned project. As News 12 has reported, some residents near the park believe the planned mini-casino will bring traffic and crime to their area, and will lower home values. Critics also contend that the OTB is mismanaging its current facilities because of pre-existing budget problems.

Supporters argue that the area needs the jobs and revenue that the planned parlor would bring. County Executive Ed Mangano has been hopeful that the facility will raise $20 million needed to balance the 2016 county budget.

Susan Oddo, a shift manager at OTB, says crime won't be a concern.  "I've worked in the parlors for 19 years. We don't have crime and drinking," she says. "We have regular, blue-collar people, regular workers who sit there and just want to let loose for a little while."

Solages' emergency measure failed when Gonsalves didn't allow the Legislature to vote, infuriating opponents of the project.

News 12 reached out to the OTB for comment on the calls for the firing of its board. The statement that the OTB gave in response did not address those calls, but said instead that residents would benefit from $24 million in revenue from gaming and restaurants at Belmont Park.

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