There seems to be a lot of controversy here in our community about the proposal by OTB to put what is euphemistically being called a “casino” on the south service road of the LIE.
Let’s start by clearing up exactly what is being proposed.
The proposal is for a “Video Lottery Terminal”, or a VLT. This is not what most people think of as a casino.
There will be no blackjack, no poker, no dice games of any kind, and no Bingo. Some people think we are going to have a little Mohegan Sun on the service road. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There will be one type of gambling and one type only: the VLT.
I’m not opposed to all types of gambling. I have been to the casinos in Connecticut a few times. They are well-run facilities that offer a wide variety of entertainment even beyond the gambling opportunities. I personally do not enjoy gambling but some people do, and as long as it is legal they should have an opportunity to do so.
They will not get that opportunity in the proposed OTB facility. In a VLT, there is a machine that looks similar to a video slot machine. It is not. These machines are all wired to a computer and you play against the house on every turn. Your odds of winning never improve. They are the same every time you play, and those odds are quite low.
These games are designed so that the house will take in over 90 percent of every dollar played. There is no skill involved. You sit there and hit a button over and over. Most experts consider this to be the lowest form of gambling there is. It is even referred to as the “crack cocaine” of gambling.
Is this the type of facility we want in our community?
Do we want to have to explain to our children and grandchildren what is going on in that building?
There is also a tremendous cost to the community of having a venue of that type — and very little, if any, actual revenue would be returned to the community. We would see an increase in traffic at all hours of the day. There would of course be an increased need for police, fire and emergency responders.
All at great cost to the taxpayers and not to OTB.
The Medford Taxpayers and Civic Association, of which I am a member, has filed a lawsuit against OTB to stop this proposed “casino.” It does not comply with town codes and zoning on many levels. Even beyond that, we should be asking ourselves if this is what we want the future of our town to be.
Do we really want to play host to the lowest level of gambling possible?
Do we want the type of people who play these games in our community, driving down our streets after a night of drinking and gambling?
I think our community deserves better and it is in our power to stop it.
Too many people have the attitude that this is a done deal and we cannot do anything about it. The powers-that-be have tried to promote that attitude. We must work together to stop this. Let your Town Board officials know how you feel. Call or email today and do your part to keep Medford a great place to live and raise a family.
James Tooher is a Medford resident who owned a music store in Setauket for 30 years. He’s retired.
Creative Commons stock photo