Suffolk OTB Tries Again to Open Controversial Medford New York Casino

Posted on: November 29, 2019, 06:19h. 

Last updated on: December 1, 2019, 11:03h.

Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting (OTB) is once again attempting to open a contentious gaming venue in Medford, New York. The move comes just as a consultant was selected to study possible gambling expansion throughout the Empire State.

Medford, New York’s former Brookhaven Movie Theater site is once again proposed for a casino by Suffolk OTB. (Image: Newsday)

Suffolk OTB recently filed initial documents to undertake an environmental impact study on placing a 160,000-square-foot video lottery gaming venue at the site of the former Brookhaven Movie Theater, according to News 12 Long Island. It is the same 30-acre parcel near the Long Island Expressway where Suffolk OTB in 2016 tried to open the casino.

Three years ago, residents voiced strong opposition to the plan. The pressure was a key reason the proposal failed.

Once again, the same group, the Medford Civic Association, is promising to defeat the plan, as residents did the last time. Brett Houdek, the association’s president, disputes the claimed benefits from the casino.

The location of the proposed casino is on eastern Long Island, some 61 miles from Manhattan. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is scheduled to hold a hearing on the casino proposal on Dec. 9 in Holtsville, News 12 said.

Suffolk OTB now has 1,000 video gaming machines at its Jake’s 58 in Islandia, which is operated by Delaware North.

Legal Dispute Between Suffolk OTB, Delaware North

But there is a current legal battle between Suffolk OTB and Delaware North over allegations by Suffolk that Delaware North is “unjustly enriching itself” by millions of dollars, overcharging Suffolk OTB and mismanaging Jake’s 58, according to WSHU. Delaware North denies the allegations.

Suffolk OTB, which has been in bankruptcy protection since 2011, opened Jake’s 58 two years ago. Delaware North acquired property next to Jake’s 59 for possible expansion, according to WSHU.

New York State enacted a law in 2013 to let Suffolk and Nassau OTBs launch slot parlors. Jake’s 58 was successful, generating $158 million in gross gaming revenues (GGR) in its first full year of operation.

In coming years, Suffolk OTB could try to get a license that may be offered for a full casino, WSHU reported. Belmont Park in Elmont is seen as another contender for a casino license.

MGM Resorts International also wants expanded gaming at its Yonkers, New York Empire City Casino. In January, MGM Resorts closed on a deal to acquire Empire City for $850 million from the Rooney family.

MGM has attempted to get New York State officials to allow downstate casinos licenses before 2023, when a current moratorium is set to end. MGM wants the Yonkers property to become a traditional casino sometime next year or in 2021.

In March, MGM and another venue, Resorts World New York City, located in Queens and operated by Genting, both offered $500 million in licensing fees for expanded gaming. They also could pay upstate casinos, which are struggling financially.

Empire City is home to 5,200 slot machines and electronic games. Empire City’s electronic offerings include blackjack, three-card poker, and roulette. But the establishment does not yet feature live table versions of those games.

Spectrum Gaming Group Chosen to Study New York Gambling Market

As the Medford proposal gets reviewed for environmental concerns, Spectrum Gaming Group of Horsham, Pennsylvania was selected by the New York State Gaming Commission to undertake a statewide market study.

The contract for the study still required final approval by the office of state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli as of earlier this month, according to the Daily Gazette. Work on the study is likely to commence next month, and a final report is expected by June 2020.

The study will look at several key questions on New York State gaming. For instance, is there a market for additional casinos in New York State, and what impact new venues may have on existing casinos, the Gazette said.

One regional market the consultant may focus on is metropolitan New York City, the Gazette added. The study will also consider the impact of sports betting and online wagering, legal gambling in neighboring states, and the impact of tribal casinos on New York State commercial casinos, the Gazette reported.

In 2013, New York approved a constitutional amendment to allow four full-gaming commercial casinos in upstate New York.