A Nassau County planning board is facing a legal challenge to a land-lease deal with the Las Vegas Sands for a $4 billion casino and entertainment project in Uniondale. According to a public docket, a Superior Court judge will entertain appearances in Hofstra University v. Nassau County Planning Commission on May 24.
The civil complaint, filed on April 18, contends the NCPC violated New York’s Open Meeting Law when it approved a 99-year lease with LVS for Nassau Coliseum and surrounding land. The Sands, which no longer operates any commercial casinos in the United States, wants to build a 72-acre “integrated resort” at the site of the Old Barn.
When the idea for the Nassau Hub was announced earlier this year, Sands said NY casino gambling would amount to about “10%” of the project. LVS touted “outdoor community spaces, four and five-star hotel rooms, and a world-class live performance venue honoring the long legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum.”
No love for turning the Old Barn into a gambling den
The Sands proposal faces local opposition, with critics citing a rise in traffic and crime as reasons to reject a new casino hotel on Long Island. Hofstra University has been one of the proposal’s most vocal and aggressive opponents.
Even before the 99-year deal between Nassau officials and LVS was announced on April 26, Hofstra alleged foul play. According to the complaint, NCPC and Sands allegedly had a closed-door meeting on March 2 to hash out lease terms.
Hofstra amended its complaint on May 4 to add:
“In a string of mishandled putative public meetings, the Planning Commission has denied Hofstra University and the public an opportunity to debate serious issues having farreaching negative consequences for our community.”
In March, Hofstra penned an open letter against the Sands project. In the letter, officials railed against “increased traffic congestion, crime, economic harm to local businesses, and other negative impacts that a casino development would likely bring.”
Caesars Entertainment’s bid for a Times Square casino in Manhattan has its critics. A group of investors that includes Thor Equities, Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends, the sports and entertainment firm co-owned by the NY Yankees, are prosing a casino on Coney Island that has also faced community backlash.
NY casinos nearing reality for New York City
The Sands is among several bids vying for one of three downstate NY casino licenses. Other notable gambling companies jockeying for a NY gaming license include Caesars Entertainment, Hard Rock International, Bally’s Corporation, Mohegan Sun, Wynn Resorts and Legends/Saratoga.
Two existing racinos fit the criteria to receive a downstate NY license. Empire City, an MGM Resorts International property in Yonkers, and Resorts World NYC, a Genting Group facility at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, expect to have the inside track on two of the available licenses.
The New York State Gaming Commission could announce the winners later this year following recommendations from the three-member Gaming Facility Location Board.
The winning applicants must pay a $500 million license fee and be able to demonstrate at least $500 million in capital development.