Posted on: April 19, 2023, 08:59h.
Last updated on: April 19, 2023, 08:59h.
Hofstra University on New York’s Long Island has filed a lawsuit against Nassau County on allegations that county officials held a discussion on the proposed $4 billion integrated casino resort proposed by Las Vegas Sands that violated the state’s open meetings laws.
The Nassau County Planning Commission on March 2 held a meeting to consider the proposed transfer of the Nassau Hub lease to Sands. The Nassau Hub is a 76-acre, country-owned property that includes the Nassau Coliseum. The NHL New York Islanders left the Nassau Coliseum for the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park in Elmont following the conclusion of the team’s 2020-21 season.
New York state leaders have three casino licenses to issue for the downstate region. Two of the concessions are expected to go to Resorts World New York City in Queens and MGM Resorts’ Empire City Casino in Yonkers.
With the odds good that only one gaming license will be up for grabs, interested casino developers are presenting costly, expansive resort schemes in hopes of wooing over state officials and the New York Gaming Facility Location Board.
Hofstra University is among the local opposition to the Sands plan to overhaul the Nassau Coliseum grounds into a gaming and entertainment campus. School officials say a casino has no business being so close to where its students live and learn. Hofstra’s campus is adjacent to the Nassau Hub property.
Along with the university’s opinion that a casino would have a negative impact on the area, Hofstra officials believe local leaders have violated the law in their early considerations of the project. In its lawsuit filed in Nassau County’s Supreme Court with the Nassau County Planning Commission named as a defendant, Hofstra’s legal team argues that the country isn’t including the public as mandated by open meetings laws.
The proposed transfer of the Nassau Coliseum lease to Las Vegas Sands needs to receive a full airing to the public which the planning commission has failed to do,” declared Adam Schuman, an attorney representing the university.
Hofstra’s complaint levies multiple allegations against the county, including that the planning commission failed to properly notify the public and make available the necessary materials about the proposed lease transfer prior to the March 2 meeting, that the commission conducted the meeting prematurely before the lease negotiations with Sands were complete, and that the planning commission voted prematurely to close its public comment period before the public had adequate time to mull the issue and reach an opinion.
The lawsuit additionally contends that the Nassau County Planning Commission violated executive session rules. Nassau County Director of Communications Christopher Boyle said Hofstra should focus on its students.
“Hofstra University would be better off spending their students’ tuition on education rather than frivolous lawsuits,” Boyle opined.
Casino Far From Approved
The Sands casino pitch for Nassau County certainly isn’t a done deal. The Planning Commission has not yet recommended to the Nassau County Legislature that it approve of transferring the Hub/Coliseum lease to Sands.
The county legislature is the only local government entity that can fully approve the lease transfer. If that were to happen, the bid, should it also receive zoning approval, would be officially entered into the bidding pool for the Gaming Facility Location Board to consider.
The bidding pool is expected to include numerous pitches from several other major casino operators, including Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, Mohegan, and Bally’s Corp.