Las Vegas Sands Successful on Appeal of Nassau County Casino Lease Block
Plans by Las Vegas Sands for a multibillion casino in Nassau County, New York, faced a rollercoaster end last week. But two back-to-back legal decisions late on Friday ended in a turnaround for the fate of the project.
Earlier this year, the Las Vegas-based operator signed a deal for a 99-year lease on the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Long Island (pictured).
However, the local Hofstra University, which operates a campus just minutes from the proposed casino site, sued Nassau County to stop the lease transfer.
That led to late Friday’s development, when the New York State Supreme Court blocked the transfer of the Coliseum lease to Sands.
In a quick twist, that ruling was almost immediately put on hold by the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court. That is, until an appeal hearing on November 21.
“For far too long, the Coliseum site known as The Hub has been languishing in a twilight zone of inaction,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said in statement.
“We are grateful that the appellate division granted a stay of the lower court’s decision, and we’re confident the lower court’s ruling will be overturned.”
Lease Agreement and Public Opposition
The lease agreement is crucial for the development of a luxury casino-hotel, spa, and entertainment complex that could cost more than $4 billion.
It is part of the expansion of the list of New York casinos in the downstate area, with three licenses up for grabs and dozens of operators and investment teams competing. Sands has been considered a front-runner in the race with this bid.
However, Hofstra University took Nassau County to court over the decision to grant the lease to Sands. It argued that the transfer agreement violated New York’s Open Meeting Law, as locals were not adequately consulted during the negotiation process.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor backed that argument in the recent decision.
Nassau County officials “engaged in improper segmentation by not considering the future development planned by Sands. The Court finds that the Nassau County Legislature did not take the requisite ‘hard look’ at the relevant areas of environmental concern raised by the lease transfer,” Kapoor wrote.
However, the outcome was dramatically put on hold again just hours later, when Sands swiftly appealed to the appellate division of the New York state Supreme Court.
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Good-Paying, Permanent Jobs
The stay, scheduled until a full hearing on November 21, 2023, has been welcomed by local politicians like Blakeman. He, like other supporters of the project, see Sands’ casino as a means to revitalize the area and bring economic benefits.
“I will continue to stand for the proposal by the Sands to develop a world-class luxury hotel, spa, entertainment center and casino, which will bring $5 billion in construction, good-paying permanent jobs, and tax relief for our residents,” Blakeman said.
On the other hand, Hofstra University’s trustees have openly criticized the proposed gaming project, highlighting its proximity to educational institutions and suburban communities.
Despite these challenges, Las Vegas Sands remains committed to proceeding with the project. The company is confident that the recent ruling will not affect its plans or its chances of acquiring one of the three upcoming downstate casino licenses.
Several dozen other famous casino operators and investors are involved in the packed field. That includes New York Mets owner Steve Cohen with Hard Rock International, local hip-hop mogul Jay-Z with Caesars Entertainment, and Bally’s Corporation at the former Trump Golf Links Ferry Point.
If Las Vegas Sands is successful with the bid, it will mean a return to the U.S. casinos market for the Las Vegas-based operator. It currently only operates resort venues in Asian markets after divesting its U.S. interests in 2021 following the death of founder Sheldon Adelson.
Nevertheless, Sands remains one of the world’s biggest casino operators, recently reporting $2.8 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2023.