LONG ISLAND’S REALLY BAD IDEA: Mangano Pushes A Casino Into The NY Islanders Fray

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Back about a year ago, the Nassau County Young Republicans met using the conference space of the office area of Nassau Coliseum. One of the main issues that they discussed was how Long Island was losing tourism dollars to places like Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York City.

Addressing this group primarily was Michael Picker, head of the Lighthouse Development Group, who spoke eloquently and to many nods of the head by those there on how important and fruitful the Lighthouse Project would be in this regard. The LHP seemed an almost customized answer to the vision of needs: refurbished Coliseum for sports and concerts, convention center, hotels, etc.

Marc Ratner, of the UFC spoke next, as they were trying to get NY States Draconian laws about fighting overturned. He exclaimed how he and the UFC would love to come to the Lighthouse. That it was the type of destination that would boom as the UFC could generate over 30 million dollars per event to the surrounding area, hotels and venue.

More nods from the young politicians at the table.

Lastly, came a pro-Gambling group, who seemed to only get half attention as talk of game tables, slot machines and such seemed a tough sell unless placed strategically. Though they all new those speaking, there was far less affirmation and excitement between sessions as far more of this group seemed much more excited by the first former speakers.

Now, one year later, a Republican sits as Nassau County Executive. The legislature has also gone to the right. The UFC has made headway via NY State to get them in far better position.

Yet the Lighthouse Project sits on a thin heartbeat, it’s proponents choosing to go dark and stop paying the Town of Hempstead developer.

How did it get to this point? Perhaps tying them to the former Democrat, Tom Suozzi, as he fell from grace…so to seemed the status and respect between the opposite sides of the political aisle.

It seemed, with the Town of Hempstead taking the lead to finish that FP Clark study, that it would be a simple contest between the two. The TOH would come out with a smaller scaled project, Wang’s group would decide if they wanted to build it or come up with a changed plan. This was supposed to all come to a head in late May…

Instead, the County Exec, Edward Mangano, has slammed talk of a casino straight down the middle of this just yesterday. It seems a bizarre disrupting element that seems to ignore the ToH’s stated issues, as well as a smack in the face to the Lighthouse, Islanders and Charles Wang.

Back at Augusts’ hearing, the Town of Hempstead board is all on the record decrying, complaining and exclaiming about traffic issues. Kate Murray stood on a soapbox on her own election concerned about urban plight infiltrating the idyllic Long Island vision of suburbia.

Since then, it has been the crux of the issue between the ToH and the LHP, as they had backchannel meetings about size and scope and could not come to any middle ground.

Now comes a controversial lightning bolt slamming into the fray. Casinos in Connecticut had to be placed in special areas and zones, not in the middle of the suburban landscape, yet Mangano chooses to attempt to place one in hub between areas that seemed to have a lot to say about even shopping, traffic and apartments.

A casino explodes all of this.

The traffic to some sporting events and concerts is nothing compared to a venue that will bring in busloads from other areas and boroughs.

Far more of an issue is the responsibility by Mangano to consider a casino next two colleges, and within a 5-mile radius of several others. Sources from Gamblers Anonymous say that gambling between the youth on Long Island is at an all time high. It is considered an epidemic. They ask how can they even consider one in such a local suburban locale?

They are not the only ones concerned. Many locals that I have spoken to are perplexed and concerned on such a move by the Nassau Executive. From sports fans to just those that live nearby, everyone seems to scratch their head on why this has even been brought to the conversation.

The biggest concern left unsaid is how a new regime has taken control and looked for the easy way out answer to the complex problems of Long Island’s economic state. Only four months into Mangano’s reign, they seemed to have pushed the panic button to take on a highly controversial and fracturing issue that is better left for less populated venues as it was done in Connecticut

Much more is that Mangano doesn’t even have rights to the land to swap with the Shinnecock nation who is out east. His predecessor, Tom Suozzi, gave the lease deal and first dibs to Wang and Rechler.

Are right wing politics and favors being called in by the political party that helped place Mangano? Or is this merely a feint as to get a more reasonable locale for a casino accepted by opponents down the line? Or is this panic and looking for the easy way out in lieu of the hard work it will take to dig out Nassau County from its economic woes.

We are left with more questions than answers and note an interesting odor emanating from all this…whether it is pure politics, recession panic, or drinking their own Kool Aid. We are now privy to a huge chasm of disconnect to the Town of Hempstead, the new Nassau Executive, Long Islanders, sports fans, and the owner of the NY Islanders.

I will be speaking to some on the ToH via the backchannels later today. Kate Murray’s official stance is that she was surprised via Newsday’s report. If I was her and on the up-and-up…I’d be more than just surprised. I’d be pissed.

Meanwhile, as I reported earlier this year, there has been a falling out per one source between Mangano and Charles Wang. This stems from a myriad of issues including Charles Wang’s flat out denial that he’s not spoken to anyone in Mangano’s group when Mangano had not had responses by Wang having left two messages with them.

In the end, as a Long Islander, I have no issue with a casino…except, like any other area and responsible government, you choose a good location. This has not been done here.

So, who’s going to try to make this bad idea even shittier?

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About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.

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  1. makes the lighthouse look a lot better though, doesn’t it?

  2. derek says:

    The crying NIMBY from the last Lighthouse Article must’ve had a heart attack when he heard this news.

  3. Islander505 says:

    Agree in principle with the gist of this column, but not the substance.

    “Are right wing politics and favors being called in by the political party that helped place Mangano?”

    Creating casinos all across the American landscape is hardly the providence of the “right wing” in America. Has your own “left wing” perspective conveniently forgotten/temporarily omitted the hardcore belief and misconception among “left-wingers” that all “right-wingers” are religious zealots?
    How could a religious zealot be in favor of something so heinous as gambling?

    And BD, a little cursory research might have uncovered the simple fact that the growth of casinos in this country is hardly a “right wing” vs. “left wing” confrontation. But more of a “lazy government” vs. a “creative and responsible government” issue.

    Indeed BD, do some research around the country before you paintbrush this as another Glenn Beck conspiracy, you might be surprised at what the “political bent” is for those states/locales that have adopted casino gambling.
    (Starter Hint.. There’s no casino gambling of any kind in Wasilla, Alaska, but feel free to come visit me in the 505 if you wanna throw some craps, or just head up I-95 to visit your “left wing” friends in CT, or down I-95 to AC, coveniently located in what is now and nevertheless the most heavily taxed state in the country).

    And just because Mangano is Republican does not make him “right wing”.
    The last 70 years of history in this country is littered with Progressive (left wing) Republicans. (including “W”)

    In conclusion BD, generalizations and paintbrushing do not become you.
    Be more careful when labelling people. Profiling is politically incorrect and not acceptable these days.
    Especially within “left wing” circles.

  4. Tony says:

    On the other hand, the Lighthouse Project, which correct me if I’m wrong, would only refurbish the existing Coliseum, IS ALSO A BAD IDEA. So where does that leave Islanders fans? There’s one group using the Islanders as leverage in some real estate development that doesn’t belong in Hempstead (3 billion dollars of development that has nothing to do with the Islanders), and there’s another group who is using the Islanders as leverage to develop a casino, their brilliant answer to massive tax deficits.

    Personally, I’d rather have a casino on Long Island. I wouldn’t meet anyone at the Lighthouse, but I would go to gamble, enjoy an Isles game, and stay overnight in a hotel. Whether or not it happens in Nassau is a different story.

  5. BDGallof says:


    Having stepped out of a LI Republican Roundtable whose agenda was gambling, tourism and sports, and that many of those PACs lift cash into the Republican Committee which is the main donor to Mangano…it befits a question if this is something pushed or part of an ideal. Because it was NEVER ever part of Mangano’s platform.

    The gambling fronts here give to both parties but got NOWHERE with the Dems in charge. They put a lot of grease on the right instead, and some of those more powerful conservatives on LI are very close to them.

    Furthermore, it is not the casino I personally have issue with, but the placement. Make 10 out on the Gold Coast. Put one at Jones Beach. But not in the middle where kids go to school in an area already cited for traffic issues.

  6. garthsnow30 says:

    Imagine a casino next to Hofstra? Im sure Hofstra would be thrilled to have one there. Although being from Westchester, a casino was put in Yonkers and has done very well so far. The area is cleaner than it used to be and is well kept.

  7. Islander505 says:

    BD, my only issue here was your use of the phrase “right-wing”.
    Cuz in the context of the 2010 National Political Discourse that plagues our country now, use of that phrase conjures up a slew of images, and more importantly, misconceptions of what REAL right wingers actually stand for.
    (Disclaimer, I will acknowledge that my own beliefs in so many ways fit the current definition of “right wing” in 2010, however, I will steadfastly maintain that I am much more “left wing” in many more areas…hence my acknowledged and declared Libertarianism…”right” on economics, “left” on social).

    So when you say “and some of those more powerful conservatives on LI are very close to them.”, I submit that IF these “conservatives” are the driving force behind a casino project, and everything a project like that represents (i.e. a feathery neon coated tax increase on the middle class and poor), then they are not really conservatives, but progressives in sheep wool.
    Here’s the litmus test….does the proposal contain language that guarantees the county a cut of the sin money? I.E. taxes on gambling operations?
    Or are the Repubs (conservatives) gonna rely on the increased revenues that will come from higher volume sales taxes on peripheral and ancillary services in and around the area?
    If the answer is YES to taxes on gambling operations, then those behind this are NOT Conservative, nor are they “right wing”, at least in my definition of what those words mean. Indeed, I will submit that they are in fact “philosophically bankrupt”. HYPOCRITES. (now that wouldn’t be a stretch for a LI politician, would it?).

    In effect BD, don’t insult real “right wingers” by brushing the self-serving progressives (there ARE Republican and Democrats who easily fit the classic definition of a progressive in 2010) who might be pushing this idea of a Casino at NVMC with the moniker of “right winger”. Cuz they might not even know what that really stands for.

    Big YES on a casino at Jones Beach (as long as casino loot is untaxed by the government, it’s not the role of government, nor is it proper for government to prey on the weaknesses of the masses).

    Just my opinion.

  8. BDGallof says:

    ahh, gotchya.

    I get your point.

  9. TeaBagger says:

    505 doesnt know what he is.

    Lifelong Islanders fan.
    Just the move the team already.

  10. ak says:

    The casino is not a perfect solution but it will uphold the suburban ideal by preventing Wang from building high-density housing on the site. “High-density development” and “smart growth” are socialist ideas that violate free market principles, and the people who live in high-density housing are usually liberal Democrats. The way to uphold suburbanism is to make sure that liberals do not win elections.

    When people live together in close quarters, it creates a pretext for governments to tax-and-spend their citizens’ hard earned money and funnel it to things like unions, mass transit, parks, etc. This makes us less free and must be stopped. Society should have as much private property as possible. The more property is used for common purposes, the more Big Government is tempted to take control of private property and turn it into public property.

    • Nick Giglia says:

      This is a joke post, right?

    • RobJC says:

      Is this you, Isles27?

      • Isle27 says:

        I post under one name Rob any more wisecracks?

        • BDGallof says:

          i laughed. come on…if you make everything into a argument of “us vs them” it will get a bit silly.

          • Isle27 says:

            I didn’t even make a comment under this story BD but my name was brought up. Seems as though there are people who post on here that think I am the only person on here who isn’t way out there in left field like they are and anyone who doesn’t agree with them it must be me posting. We saw last November, despite what dominates this blog, and we will see this coming November that I am in the majority when it comes to political views and all the left wingers on here are in the minority. I guess when all the lefties on here slam the Republicans they aren’t making a “us vs them” argument.

  11. [...] chicagosports wrote an interesting post today Here’s a quick excerpt About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He is also one of the charter members of the NY Islander’s Blog Box program. He was the NY Islanders blogger for Hockeybuzz.com from 2007 till the beginning of 2009 … [...]

  12. Chris TMC says:

    Tony says: “the Lighthouse Project, which correct me if I’m wrong, would only refurbish the existing Coliseum, IS ALSO A BAD IDEA.”

    Since you requested, I will correct you since it seems you dont have the full explanation of the stated plan. :) The refurbishing of NVMC intends to reuse the foundation of the building and little else. It is technically a refurbishing because they would not demolish the buildings foundation. But it is planned to completely rebuild the arena from the existing foundation on out. There is no good reason to demolish the foundation and build another- doing that doesnt help the Islanders but it would be more taxing on the environment- and for no good reason.

  13. Paul in Canada says:

    The reason for all the Republican adversity towards the Lighthouse is very likely just a personal vendetta courtesy of Al D’Amato. Just “Wilkpedia” D’Amato and see his history of power and corruption on Long Island. His falling out with Wang is all you need to know about why this project can’t maintain traction. The D’Amato brother that Wang wouldn’t do business with on the Lighthouse project has also kept some interesting company in his day. This isn’t about right or left wing politics or the political leanings of who might live at Lighthouse condos. Its not about the size of the project or aesthetics. Its not about traffic conjestion or the size of a highrise or water aquifers. The bottom line, simply, is that when the Republicans speak of Wang, they say “he is not a friend of ours” and they have been trying to find reasons to not let this project happen for years. The question is, what can you do about an out of control corrupt multi-layered system?

    • Isle27 says:

      Wang CHOSE to get in bed with D’Amato and his brother years ago now they are enemies. It’s between the big boys. “Wilkpedia” or “Google” Wang he’s no angel either.

  14. tom says:

    just move the islanders to queens and end this joke with the TOH

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