Court Upholds Lease Invalidation, Creating Uphill Battle For Sands NY Casino

Written By Grant Lucas on December 15, 2023
construction for las vegas sands casino in pennsylvania

The road to a potential downstate New York casino license just got longer for Las Vegas Sands.

Just over a month after a state court nullified the 99-year lease it secured with Nassau County to develop a casino resort at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum – as well as another court granting a stay to delay that invalidation – Sands saw a New York appeals court uphold the initial ruling, blocking Nassau County from transferring the Nassau Coliseum lease to the gambling company.

As a result, Las Vegas Sands faces a lengthy uphill battle to land one of the three downstate retail licenses, much less NY online casino licensing should the state legalize the industry.

Sands NY casino back to square one after latest ruling

At the center of the lawsuit filed by Hofstra University was the school’s allegation that Nassau County officials violated the state’s open meeting laws while also skirting environmental laws.

That’s what led Supreme Court Judge Sarika Kapoor, a Hofstra grad, to initially issue a ruling invalidating the agreement.

While a separate court granted a stay of the nullification, this latest ruling would apparently put a damper on any hope of a Sands New York casino on Long Island.

“We are pleased that the courts continue to uphold the public’s rights to transparency and participation in these important decisions regarding the future use of the Nassau Hub,” Adam Schuman, an attorney for Hofstra, said in a statement.

Opponents voice their support of court ruling

The Say No to the Casino Civic Association, a staunch opponent of a Sands NY casino, expressed a similar sentiment.

“We are pleased that the stay of the State Supreme Court’s decision to annul the lease between Nassau County and the gambling company Las Vegas Sands Corp. has been denied.”

The group added that it was “very clear that Nassau County violated Open Meetings Laws and skirted its responsibility to conduct a thorough environmental review when the Legislature voted to approve the lease transfer. It was in an obvious attempt to avoid public input and scrutiny. It is time for County leadership to acknowledge that they did indeed violate such laws, end its wasteful appeal, and start over—this time following our laws and subjecting the lease to both public scrutiny and environment review.

“We are confident that after a fair and transparent process, it will be clear to both County legislators and residents of Nassau County that any lease transfer that would allow for a massive, predatory casino in the heart of Nassau County should be voted down.”

Is this the end for a potential Sands casino on Long Island?

Every downstate NY casino proposal requires an environmental review of the development. Hofstra alleged, and the courts ultimately agreed, that Nassau County and Las Vegas Sands did not follow proper protocol.

Policymakers in Hempstead recently voted unanimously to lead the multistep process to complete the State Environmental Quality Review Act as Sands looks to build its $4 billion casino resort.

However, as Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin told Newsday, the town remains uncertain what this latest ruling means exactly for that process. However, he added, it “has to move forward.”

“We’re starting the proceedings according to the law. We want to do it in an open and transparent matter. We want to make sure residents have an incredible comfort level with this and for whatever may or may not be built there, and we think this is the way we want to handle it here in the town.”

As indicated, this doesn’t necessarily mean the end for a potential Sands New York casino. However, judging by this latest ruling as well as legal experts expressing their beliefs that this project could be tied up in courts for years, the company’s outlook – once deemed “compelling” and “an extraordinary opportunity” – now looks bleak.

Photo by Matt Rourke / AP Photo
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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is the managing editor for PlayNY. A longtime, award-winning sports writer, Grant has covered gambling and legal sports betting since 2018, when he got his start reporting on the New Jersey and Pennsylvania industries. He now oversees PlayNY as New York expands legalized gambling to sports betting and online casino gaming.

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