Controversy over proposal for casinos in Nassau County

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Josh Einiger reports hundreds turned out at a meeting Thursday night to voice their opposition to plans for a casino in Nassau County. (WABC)

Representatives of Nassau County's Off-Track betting had an uphill battle Thursday night, as they faced an angry mob.

Hundreds packed a high school auditorium to voice their displeasure at the proposed video gambling parlor, at a long-vacant former Fortunoff department store on Old Country Road in Westbury.

"I am frightened for what might happen what kind of element would be visiting this casino," said Kim Iadabaia of Carle Place.

"I'd probabliy move. The crime rate will double," said John Addario of Westbury.

Nassau OTB picked the site, which anchors the once prosperous Source Shopping Center, as its first choice out of 20 different locations.

Officials promise this is not actually a casino, rather a thousand so-called video lottery terminals, which would fill only about 15 percent of the old Fortunoff.

The rest, they say, would consist of upscale restaurants and retail, and would actually improve the surrounding neighborhoods.

"It's the goal of Nassau OTB to make this area safer than it already is today," said Rich Baldwin of Nassau OTB.

It's up to the State Gaming Commission to approve the license, but has no role in the site selection. No matter what project planners promise, residents here do not want it.

"We're a united cold calculated community that's gonna do everything we have to do for as long as we have to do it with the resources that we have to do, to stop this," said Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro.

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