Nassau County policymakers overwhelmingly approved a lease accord that could pave the way for Las Vegas Sands to build a casino hotel at the Coliseum site in Uniondale, NY.
In a late Monday vote, the Republican-controlled Nassau County legislators voted 17-1 in favor of granting Sands a 99-year lease to develop county-owned land on the Nassau Hub site. Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) was the lone dissenting vote, while Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) abstained, citing a potential conflict of interest.
Sands revealed in January that its quest for New York City-area gaming license would be centered on Nassau County. The operator has since pitched a $4 billion integrated resort in Uniondale. Last month, the county’s planning commission and the legislature’s Rules Committee signed off on the lease agreement, setting the stage for the broader legislature to hear the matter.
Earlier this year, Sands moved to acquire control of up to 80 acres at the Nassau Coliseum site.
Important Step, but Long Road Ahead
LVS CEO Robert Goldstein noted the legislature’s approval is an important step in advancing the project, but there’s more work ahead.
We have held over 300 community meetings and are proud of the widespread coalition we have built with our new neighbors across Long Island,” Goldstein said in an interview with Newsday. “We are grateful for the trust they have placed in us and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the community.”
From here, the operator needs to garner more support from advisory and community groups, commence an environmental impact study, and get the town of Hempstead to sign off on various zoning requests. That to-do list doesn’t include actually winning one of the three gaming licenses New York regulators will eventually award.
It’s widely believed two licenses are already spoken for by MGM’s Empire City Casino in Yonkers in Westchester County and Resorts World New York in Queens. There’s also speculation that Sands is the leader for the third permit. The timeline for the state’s announcement of the winners is currently the source of considerable debate.
Sands Committed to Long Island
At the Monday legislature meeting, various groups spoke against and for the Sands casino project, highlighting a divide evident in recent months.
However, there is bipartisan support for the project, as shown by the Monday vote. Former New York Gov. David Patterson, a Democrat and a Sands lobbyist, endorsed the project, as did Republican Nassau Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves.
Sands is also making a significant financial commitment to Nassau County. The company is on the hook for a $54 million payment to the county regardless of whether or not it wins a gaming license.
Should the operator get the go-ahead to develop the casino resort, local supporters expect the venue to emphasize conventions, dining, entertainment, and spas over gaming.
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