Fitzpatrick Announces Bill To Repeal Video Lottery Gaming On Long Island

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) today held a press conference at the State Building in Hauppauge, NY to introduce his legislation, Assembly Bill A.5187, to rescind the authorization for 1,000 video lottery gaming terminals to be operated by Nassau and Suffolk County Off Track Betting (OTB) corporations. He was joined in support by Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta as well as casino opponents from affected localities in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“When residents of Long Island called for much-needed relief from burdensome taxes due to unfunded, state mandated programs, Albany responded by issuing gambling licenses and authorizing video slot machines at traditional betting sites. However, gambling revenues have been much lower than expected,” said Fitzpatrick. “To bring about meaningful tax relief, Albany must reduce costs and stop spending, not create alternate revenue schemes like gambling. Furthermore, gambling brings a plethora of other problems to our community. This is not a trade-off we should be making. When voting on allowing up to seven casinos in Upstate New York, residents were unaware that even if they voted against the referendum both Nassau and Suffolk counties would get 1,000 video lottery terminals apiece. Regardless of whether it passed or failed, they still would be saddled with those terminals. A vote against the referendum was still a vote for the video lottery terminals.”

According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, as well as the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) Program, nearly one-third of those who have been arrested and identified as pathological gamblers have admitted to committing robbery. The report also revealed not only that 13 percent of those individuals have assaulted someone for money, but that pathological gamblers are more likely to have sold drugs than other arrestees. Bringing gambling into Long Island communities brings with it the potential for a serious increase of gambling-related crime, including, but not limited to, assault and drug trafficking.

As recently reported, residents of Long Island, unhappy with gambling parlors in their communities, began preparations to legally fight to stop these parlors from being placed in their towns. Fitzpatrick’s proposed bill supports these efforts by rescinding the state authorization allowing for video lottery gaming in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Chairperson of the Coalition Against Gambling in New York (CAGNY), Dr. Stephen Shafer, said “This is the first opportunity for the Legislature to end the part of the regrettable Upstate Gaming Act of 2013, which authorized harmful expansion of state-sponsored electronic gambling into ‘downstate.’ The residents of Nassau and Suffolk had no say about this intrusion into their counties. These proposed slot parlors will not be asked for even a token of concern about preventing problem gambling or offering help to problem gamblers. CAGNY salutes Assemblyman Fitzpatrick for his intention to stop the spread of predatory gambling. We hope this bill will go far.”

As A.5187 gains bipartisan support, Fitzpatrick is working to advance the bill and urge his colleagues for its immediate passage.