Opposition Growing As Sands New York Casino Looks To Land One Of Three Downstate Licenses

Written By Grant Lucas on March 29, 2023 - Last Updated on April 1, 2023
Sands New York downstate ny casinos nassau veterans memorial coliseum rendering

Las Vegas Sands may be “all the way in” on bringing a New York downstate casino to the site of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. But locals are not.

Trustees from Hofstra University wrote an open letter about the Sands New York project, calling it “entirely inappropriate” to bring a casino to the area. On top of that, a group of locals have formed a group called Say No to the Casino Civic Association to oppose the proposal of a potential downstate NY casino to the Long Island venue.

In the letter, Hofstra trustees noted that the target location “is surrounded by educational institutions from preschool through graduate school, and a diversity of suburban communities that should not be exposed to the increased traffic congestion, crime, economic harm to local businesses, and other negative impacts that a casino development would likely bring.”

The letter continued with a suggestion:

“There are other locations in and around New York City to site a casino that are not in such proximity to multiple educational institutions where so many young people live and learn.”

Hofstra trustees call Sands New York casino ‘entirely inappropriate’

Not every academic institution sides with Hofstra. For example, Sands partnered with Nassau Community College to expand its hospitality management program.

When news of this deal emerged, Hofstra voiced its opposition, citing concerns regarding students becoming addicted to gambling.

David Paterson, formerly governor of New York and now a senior vice president with Sands, told News 12 Long Island that Hofstra’s concerns were misguided.

With Sands planning for a full resort experience, Paterson noted that the casino would only occupy about 10% of the space.

“The whole industry changed,” Paterson said, “by the Sands and other companies who basically made the whole environment family-friendly.”

Interestingly, while an incredibly small sample size that doesn’t accurately reflect the overall student population, one Hofstra student told News 12 Long Island that a casino and the school could coexist.

Of note, while Hofstra trustees penned the letter, former school president Stuart Rabinowitz sits on the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board, which will ultimately recommend which companies will receive downstate NY casino licenses.

Residents form group to oppose NY casino

On top of Hofstra’s letter, the proposed Sands New York casino drew opposition from a group of residents who formed the Say No to the Casino Civic Association. Founded in January, the group’s goal is to “prevent the development of any type of casino” at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, according to the group’s website.

“This Civic Association believes that a casino will change the character of the neighborhood and will lead to an increase in crime. It will also cause an increase of traffic pollution due to the increase of cars, busses, trucks, helicopters, etc. Increased crime and traffic pollution will be a strain on our law enforcement and government.”

To gain support, Say No to the Casino put up a petition on change.org, which, as of this writing, has gained nearly 1,900 signatures with a goal of 2,500.

Unrelated, the nearby Garden City Village Board voted to take an official stand against the casino proposal. A symbolic move, the board’s goal was to send a message to developers and Nassau County officials that locals do not want a casino in the area.

Not everyone opposes Sands NY casino

During his State of the County address, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman pointed out how his administration is “committed to doing big things.”

He emphasized that a proposal to build a casino resort in the area must be “world-class, with a luxury hotel and entertainment component”; generate “significant revenue” to Nassau and surrounding communities; and have support from the community.

Considering Sands aims for outdoor community spaces, five-star hotels rooms and a live performance venue along with a casino floor, that answers the first task from Blakeman. During an earnings calls, Sands CEO Rob Goldstein indicated that his company would invest upward of $5 billion to develop the area, part of the company’s goal to build “something transformational that drives tourism.” That answers the second goal.

The third? A bit up in the air.

Photo by Sands New York / submitted image
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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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