Judge: Nassau Broke Open Records Law With Las Vegas Sands Lease

Judge: Nassau Broke Open Records Law With Las Vegas Sands Lease
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Nassau County officials will have to start the process again to award a long-term lease of the Nassau Coliseum to Las Vegas Sands, which has proposed using the Uniondale site for a $4 billion casino resort on Long Island.

On Thursday, Nassau Supreme Court Acting Justice Sarika Kapoor ruled the county’s planning commission violated open meeting laws and state environmental review processes when it voted in April to approve a 99-year lease for the old New York Islanders arena to the gaming company. That, in turn, nullified subsequent actions by county lawmakers and Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who approved the deal a month later.

There are no legal New York online casinos yet.

“The matter must be remitted to the Planning Commission and the Nassau County Legislature to conduct a new public hearing in accordance with all relevant statutes,” Kapoor wrote in the 32-page decision.

That process must include a study accounting for the environmental impact that the casino and associated projects will have in the area. Hofstra University, next to the coliseum, filed the suit in April. In addition to getting the original lease voided, the school will also receive payment for the legal fees it incurred.

“The court recognized the public’s right to participate in decision-making about the current redevelopment plan for the Nassau Hub,” Hofstra President Susan Poser told the New York Post. “We look forward to contributing to the planning process and advocating for the use of the Hub in ways that will best contribute to our thriving community, while protecting against environmental and other harms.”

Seeking Downstate Casino License

Las Vegas Sands’ Nassau County proposal is one of several coming from gaming companies lining up to bid on three casino licenses the New York State Gaming Commission will award. All three are expected to be awarded to developers pitching projects for Downstate New York, including New York City, its northern suburbs and Long Island.

Interested bidders submitted the second and final round of questions last month. It’s uncertain when state regulators will release answers to them, but when that happens, it’ll trigger a 30-day window for applicants to submit their proposals.

Before the state’s Gaming Facility Location Board can review an application, the developer must win two-thirds support from a local review board.

The state requires developers to submit plans that show a minimum investment of $500 million for their projects. However, like Las Vegas Sands, many plan to invest significantly more. The state has also set the licensing fee at $500 million, but applicants can offer more.

Casino Licenses Attract Significant Interest

Besides Las Vegas Sands, several other companies have come forward with plans for casinos in Times Square (Caesars), Hudson Yards (Wynn) and Coney Island (Chickasaw Nation). MGM Resorts International will propose to expand its Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway just north of New York City. Resorts World International will similarly propose expanding its casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Both facilities only have video lottery terminal games and cannot currently offer live-dealer table games or Las Vegas-style slots like Class III casinos.

Meanwhile, Hard Rock International officially got into the fray last week when New York Mets owner Steve Cohen revealed plans for Metropolitan Park, an $8 billion proposed community development surrounding CitiField in Queens.

Fore more news on this and the efforts to make legal New York online casino apps a reality, keep up to date with NYCasinos.com.

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Author

Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.