Hempstead to Supervise Review of Long Island Casino Environment

Published on: December 7, 2023, 04:38h. 

Updated on: December 7, 2023, 04:38h.

Amid legal action from Hofstra University, an environmental review that’s key to Las Vegas Sands’ possible casino hotel project in Long Island, NY is in progress.

Sands Long Island
Nassau Coliseum. The town of Hempstead, NY says it’s taking the lead in an environmental review related to a Las Vegas Sands casino proposal. (Image: LongIsland.com)

On Tuesday, policymakers in the town of Hempstead voted unanimously to be the main regulator for the State Environmental Quality Review Act procedure, which decides the feasibility of Sands’ $4 billion plan to build a casino resort at the site of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.

Hempstead stopped leading the State Environmental Quality Review Act process last month when the New York Supreme Court ruled that Nassau County’s transfer of Coliseum’s lease to Sands violated New York’s open meeting laws. This was later placed on hold by the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court.

Hofstra, the plaintiff in the case, has claimed that Nassau County officials didn’t make public participation available regarding the casino issue and other groups opposing the project asserted no progress had been made on the environmental review process.

Hempstead, Sands Seeking Transparency

Opponents of the Nassau County casino plan have suggested lawmakers approved the deal with Sands in private and that processes concerning related regulatory reviews have not been open to public comment.

On the other hand, supporters of the integrated resort say that Long Island politicians have shown their support for the Sands proposal, with numerous residents supporting the project at various meetings.

Regarding the environmental review process, Hempstead lawmakers voted to use a review drafted by Sands as a template and to hold two related review sessions on Jan. 18 at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale.

The Uniondale Chamber of Commerce is among the groups backing the Sands proposal. The chamber leader noted that many local businesses, including restaurants, support the casino proposal. For LVS, the location is attractive because Nassau County is the second-most populous county in New York after New York City. Also, Long Island is a short drive to the Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

Environmental Review Critical Piece of Puzzle

Legal experts believe Hofstra’s case is focused around sending Nassau County and Sands back to the start and potentially betting that a lengthy legal battle will prevent the county and the gaming company from being ready to bid credibly for one of the three downstate casino licenses New York regulators could award next year.

Both the county and Sands have stated they will push forward regardless of Hofstra’s legal efforts. This makes a comprehensive and transparent environmental review important to refute Hofstra’s claims.

It’s also crucial to potentially expedite the legal process because New York’s higher courts have a backlog and are taking years to hear some environmental review cases.

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