One legislator called it a “no-brainer.” And the voting certainly reflected that thinking on Monday.
The Nassau County Legislature voted 17-1 to approve a land lease agreement with Las Vegas Sands.
“This is the first hurdle overcome to provide a world class entertainment center with a luxury spa and hotel,” County Executive Bruce Blakeman said in a statement, “creating thousands of jobs and economic properity for Nassau County. I am very pleased with the vote.”
As a result, Sands would receive the land occupied by Nassau Coliseum as the company looks to construct a $4 billion NY casino, resort and entertainment venue.
Big lease approved by Nassau County Legislature
Last month, Nassau County officials agreed to a 99-year deal with Sands. The company would pay $54 million whether or not the company receives a license for one of the three downstate NY casinos.
Most of the agreement centers around local investments. For example, Sands will pay $5 million annually for the county land. Rent increases to $10 million if Sands receives a casino license. And once the casino opens, Sands would pay another $25 million for the first three years. After three years, payments go up to $50 million.
The county police department would receive $1.8 million from Sands, while surrounding areas would also earn revenue payments.
According to Blakeman, a Sands NY casino would generate more than $100 million in annual revenue for Nassau County municipalities and schools.
Still plenty of hurdles left for Sands NY casino
As indicated by Blakeman’s statement, other obstacles still stand in the way of a potential Sands casino.
For example, a Community Advisory Committee first needs to review the application and gauge local support. If such support exists, the CAC may recommend the project for licensing. Then the Gaming Facility Location Board will review and perhaps recommend Sands for approval.
Finally, the New York State Gaming Commission would again look over all the details and make a final determination. As NYSGC chair Brian O’Dwyer said in recent commission meeting, any recommmended proposal “is not going to be rubberstamped by this commission. … And we will be very, very careful to make sure that, once again, the casinos are operated with the greatest integrity.”
Then, of course, there is Hofstra University. The institution filed a civil complaint contending that the Nassau County Planning Commission violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when it approved the 99-year lease.
According to the complaint, the “string of mishandled putative public meetings” resulted in the planning commission denying Hofstra and the public “an opportunity to debate serious issues having farreaching nevative consequences for our community.”
A Superior Court judge will entertain first appearances on Wednesday.
Sands still optimistic for potential NY casino
Despite the hurdles that remain, they have not shaken Sands from its rosy outlook for a casino resort in the area.
“The approval granted today by the Nassau County legislature is an important step in our company’s efforts to secure a New York gaming license and ultimately develop a world-class hospitality, entertainment and gaming destination,” Sands CEO Robert Goldstein said in a statement.
He then added:
“We have held over 300 community meetings and are proud of the widespread coalition we have built with our new neighbors across Long Island.”