Opponents urge Nassau legislators to 'say no to a casino' with protest at County Legislature
Dozens of Nassau residents rallied on the steps of the County Legislature building Monday to protest a proposal for a casino to be built in the area around the Nassau Coliseum.
Those against the casino say it would bring increased traffic, crime and gambling addiction to young people, including negative effects on nearby colleges like Hofstra University.
"Young people are already coping with ongoing problems," says Hofstra student Chanda Washington. "And the casino would only exacerbate those concerns."
While Hofstra is against the plan, Long Island University and Nassau Community College have come out in support of the casino. LIU and NCC have even announced a partnership to create a hospitality management program for students.
Las Vegas Sands, the company interested in building the casino, says that it will bring jobs and tax revenue to the area.
In a comment to News 12, Vice President of Global Communications and Corporate Affairs for Las Vegas Sands Ron Reese said, "We are grateful for the community support we have received to date around our proposal for a world-class resort and entertainment center at the Nassau Hub - and we are proud that the coalition of Long Island supporters continues to grow through our meetings with civic leaders, small business owners, and youth empowerment programs. It is our goal to make this proposal a truly collaborative one that all Long Islanders can be proud of, and we are eager to continue the process and share ideas with all interested groups."
Gambling addition experts say there has been a 40% increase in addiction hotline calls in the past year.
"We are particularly concerned about vulnerable populations where addiction is more prevalent and particularly among young people where there's a real likelihood of developing a problem early on and those programs can explode very quickly," said Pam Brenner-Davis, of the LI Problem Gambling Resource Center.
She says she is concerned about the casino proposal and the possible chances of gambling addiction rising even more.
County Executive Bruce Blakeman says he is considering the proposal but that approval would come with conditions including support from the community for the project.
A spokesperson for Blakeman released a statement to News 12, saying, "The County Executive continues to consider The Sands proposal to build a world class resort and entertainment center with a casino at the Hub. The County Executive has said from the beginning that the proposal must be world-class, with a luxury hotel and entertainment component, bring significant revenue to the county and surrounding areas including construction and permanent jobs, and have the support of the community, in order to move forward."
The full Legislature is scheduled to vote on the casino proposal at the end of April.