A proposed multi-billion-dollar casino project in Nassau County is facing additional scrutiny after locals caught wind of a potential tax break for the gambling company.
The Say NO to the Casino Civic Association, a non-partisan group of residents, joins several others in opposing the Las Vegas Sands Corp. bid to construct a new casino and entertainment complex at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Sands is jockeying for one of three available downstate New York casino licenses, creating fierce competition among gambling operators. Additionally, nearly all the projects are experiencing pushback from their respective communities due to concerns over traffic, crime or the morality of gambling.
Civic association: Sands NY casino ‘plans to vacuum up gambling losses’
The Long Island civic association’s latest gripe with the Nassau Coliseum Hub (as the project is being called) is financially motivated.
In a press release, the Say NO to the Casino Civic Association said it is “the height of hypocrisy” for a profitable company such as LV Sands to seek tax relief.
Their statement reads, in part:
“This is a company that plans to vacuum up gambling losses ‘in excess of $2 billion’ a year, the majority of which are expected to come from Nassau County residents…Asking for tax breaks to chip away at the meager payments they’ve promised in relation to their expected astronomical windfall from our residents’ gambling losses, reveals the greed driving their forceful press to push their casino into our community.”
NY casino project seeking tax relief
According to Newsday, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. may seek a sales-tax exemption on construction material purchases and a reduction in the mortgage recording tax. The company would make payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) to several parties, including the county, school district and Hempstead Town.
Sands and Nassau County officials agreed on a 99-year lease deal for the land around the Old Barn earlier this year. The Coliseum itself has been exempt from property taxes for years.
Sands will pay $5 million per year for the county land. If LVS receives a casino license, the rent will increase to $10 million yearly. With an operational casino, the county would receive $25 million for the first three years on top of the annual rent. After three years, payments to the county would increase to $50 million.
LVS would also pay $1.8 million to the Nassau County Police Department.
According to local news reports, the amounts would be cut almost in half without a casino.
Promises of ‘economic prosperity’ with NY casino proposal
Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman says the Sands’ project will “provide a world-class entertainment center with a luxury spa and hotel, creating thousands of jobs and economic prosperity” for the county.
Still, groups like the Say NO to the Casino Civic Association say they don’t want a gambling parlor on Long Island. Hofstra University, which would basically be neighbors with a Coliseum casino, is squaring off with county officials in court over procedural violations.
Leaders from multiple organized labor groups as well as the NAACP are in favor of the agreement. Nassau Community College is also supporting the casino project.
No word yet on NY casino licenses
Sands is among several bids for the downstate NY casino licenses. Other notable gambling companies reportedly in the mix include:
- Caesars Entertainment
- Hard Rock International
- Bally’s Corporation
- Mohegan Sun
- Wynn Resorts
Two existing racinos fit the criteria to receive a downstate 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. That said, we still await the first round of answers from the GFLB, which were expected to be posted several months ago.
The winning applicants must pay a $500 million license fee and be able to demonstrate at least $500 million in capital development.