Well, I said it was just for a news story. However, I still could not convince myself to leave my purse in the car. Suffolk County’s first casino is big news. However, I am only here to write a story, so no need to carry anything but identification, a pen, and a camera. Well, at least a few bucks. I have been known to play the ponies once in a Belmont blue moon. I could pick a triple and then take some pictures and write my story. Yes I know, I am working, but I think I can sell to my editor the experience of betting the horses as part of the story.
Jake’s 58 is the name given to Suffolk County OTB’s first horse betting parlor with slot machines. For those who do not know, OTB stands for Off Track Betting. However what became evident after much searching for the horse racing section of the casino, was there was no horse betting section. After spending about twenty minutes searching for the OTB in the casino, I finally asked a security guard for some help. I was pointed towards a corner wall by the casino cashier window. There were four television monitors on the wall and an electronic betting machine. There was not even a chair that a horse player could sit down on and watch the races, unless you count the chairs in front of each slot machine. I went up to the casino cashier and asked where the window was that I could place my bets. I was informed that I must use the machine in the corner to place a horse racing bet. There are actually no tellers taking horse bets. My visions of the MGM Grand Horse Room on Long Island were completely destroyed within seconds. However, to be fair, the casino just opened up and hopefully the management will take into account the whole concept of horse betting in a betting parlor constructed to bail out Suffolk County’s Off Track Betting organization which is based on horse racing. But really, a corner wall !
There is a very heavy security presence in the casino. That is probably a good thing. However, as I set up to take a few pictures, I was told no pictures allowed. They seemed pretty serious and I really did not feel like being escorted out of the casino before I got the chance to explore the rest of the floor. So in the end, all I originally had was a single shot taken of the outside of the casino. However, completely disappointed without getting any interior pictures, I went back a few days later determined not to be stopped. The security guard that had stopped me form taking pictures the first time, did not seem to be on duty. So I began snapping away very carefully. I am sure there were some people that did not want to be caught on camera.But I made sure to move quickly and be as stealth as one can be.
According to Suffolk County Off Track Betting, the casino opened with 250 slot machines. That seemed like a pretty accurate number as there were three small sections of the hotel lobby that was filled with the machines. The slot machines were computerized spinning wheel styles slot machines that offered up to five pay-lines on at the least the ones that I took a turn at. The slot machines took actual paper money and returned any winnings on paper credits that could be exchanged at the casino cashier window for cash. At about 10.00 pm on a Wednesday evening, just about every slot machine in the casino was being played by a patron. The casino is only based on electronic video slot machines as there are no blackjack or any other type table games to be found. When I went back at around 3.00 pm on a Tuesday afternoon, the Casino was still pretty crowded, but not as bad as bad.
There is a very nice bar and restaurant in the hotel’s main lobby. The main lobby is spread over two floors that are connected by a large open air staircase. It is a large lobby, but only time will tell how the company plans on installing the 1000 slot machines they have promised by the summer of 2017 in a capacity that wont allow for an overcrowded experience. The hotel which was formally known as the Islandia Marriott Long Island has been branded with the name Jake’s 58. The hotel and casino are now owned and managed by the Delaware North Company. The company has a contract with Suffolk OTB to operate the casino.
There has been opposition to the casino by town residents. Only time will tell if any suits brought against Suffolk OTB will alter the organizations plans with the casino. Suffolk County OTB has argued that the casino will create local jobs and generate one hundred and sixty five million dollars a year in revenue for Suffolk County. One of the issues that has plagued Jake’s Casion early ion is the lack of parking. The southern lot that faces the Long Island service road fills up quickly. The casino offers Valet parking on the north side of the building. However, many patrons have refused to utilized the valet parking and have been parking in the street in front of the south entrance of Jake’s 58 Hotel and Casino.
From simply observing the operations of the casino from a customer’s point of view, one can see that the Delaware North Company knows how to run a casino in a very professional manner. There was a bit of an intimidation factor, because of the high level of security, but in the end,that is probably more of a good thing. It’s too early to tell how successful the casino will be because they seem to be only operating at twenty-five percent capacity. Will the casino have an effect on the neighborhood is an important question that will only be judged over time. I just wish there was a place where I could sit down, open a racing form and bet some horse races. Guess I will keep placing my bets at OTB’s Racing Forum on Motor Parkway just a few miles away.
This is a photo of Jake’s 58 Casino Section with higher priced slots. It was the emptiest section of Jake’s 58 Casino