Long Island OTBs Might Get VLT Betting

Talks underway Nassau and Suffolk OTB corporations to each manage a VLT.

The New York Legislature's top Republican said there are talks to permit the off-track betting corporations on Long Island to offer video lottery terminal betting.

Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Nassau County Republican, said "one of the suggestions that's out there'' is to permit the Nassau and Suffolk OTB corporations to each manage a VLT operation on Long Island. Precisely where or how many VLT devices would be allowed was not disclosed.

The plan comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing an initial casino expansion phase that would site three casinos in upstate New York, not New York City or on Long Island. Cuomo on May 21 struck a deal with the St. Regis Mohawk Indian tribe to restrict any new commercial casinos in a large section of northern New York. Last week, he made a casino exclusivity deal for a big part of central New York with the Oneida Indian Nation to protect its existing Turning Stone casino.

With those two deals, Cuomo's plan calls for letting casinos locate in three of four regions of upstate. Where the remaining four casinos called for in a proposed constitutional amendment might go in the years ahead is uncertain. The idea still needs legislative approval and backing by voters as soon as this November in a statewide referendum.

"Certainly, the governor is very affirmative about three casinos upstate. We need that for economic development there, but we're going to look at all regions of the state and how everybody can benefit,'' Skelos said.

Asked about opposition from Aqueduct Race Track's successful casino to a VLT facility being located in nearby Nassau County, Skelos said, "I don't think there's any way that competes with Aqueduct.''

Skelos made his comments following a closed-door meeting with Cuomo and other legislative leaders at the Capitol tonight. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said he did not know anything about the Skelos Long Island OTB plan because Skelos did not raise the issue in the May 21 negotiations.

Currently, only one OTB in the stateWestern Regional Off-Track Betting Corp.is allowed to offer VLTs. It does so at Batavia Downs harness track; the OTB is the only one in the state to own a racetrack.