Sands New York Casino Effort Suffers Legal Setback

Las Vegas Sands’ plans to bring a casino hotel to the site of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY may have been dealt a setback last Friday when New York State Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor reiterated her previous ruling invalidating the lease transfer agreement between the county and the gaming company.

Hofstra University Nassau Coliseum Sands casino
The Nassau Coliseum. New York State Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor reiterated the view that a lease transfer on the venue between the county and Las Vegas Sands is invalid. (Image: Newsday)

Last November, Kapoor ruled that the lease transfer violated New York’s open meeting laws and the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process. Just days after that decision, a New York appellate court ruled the lease transfer could proceed until an appeal was heard. That opened the door for the town of Hempstead to proceed with an environmental review for the casino project, for which it held two public comment sessions in January.

“Say NO to the Casino,” which has opposed the gaming project from the start, believes Kapoor’s Feb. 23 ruling wasn’t necessary and claims Nassau County and Sands purposefully flouted the judge’s November decision.

Now, we want answers. The residents of Nassau County have a right to know why County Executive Bruce Blakeman, the County Legislature, and LVS would continue to flagrantly ignore Judge Kapoor’s November ruling, proceed with the process as if LVS retained land control, and push the Town of Hempstead to begin the SEQRA process,” said the group in a statement.

Should it procure one of the three downstate casino licenses New York regulators are expected to award, LVS plans to build a $6 billion integrated resort at the Coliseum site.

Latest Ruling Adds to Controversy in Sands New York Casino Plans

Kapoor’s latest ruling adds to the controversy surrounding the effort by Nassau County and Sands to transform the Coliseum into a venue that creates job and bolsters tax receipts for the county and the state.

Nearby Hofstra University is widely viewed as the architect of the anti-casino effort and was the plaintiff in the original suit against the county — the case on which Kapoor ruled last week and in November. The college and other opposition groups know that the longer the county and Sands have to contend with legal battles, the longer the odds are that Nassau County will eventually be home to a casino.

However, Hofstra may not be as altruistic as it appears. In January, reports surfaced that the university may have been in contact with representatives of Hard Rock International in an effort to stymie the Long casino plan.

Hard Rock, which is the gaming arm of Florida’s Seminole Tribe, is working with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen to win a permit to build a casino hotel across from Citi Field in Queens. That effort is also mired in controversy because the land on which Cohen wants to build the gaming venue is designated as parkland, meaning legislation is needed to alter that classification.

Say NO to the Casino Has Demands

It’s possible that if Sands and Nassau County come into compliance with open meeting laws and the SEQRA process, they can move forward.

In the meantime, “Say NO to the Casino” is demanding that the Coliseum lease be returned to the previous holder.

“We want reassurances that control of the Nassau HUB land and coliseum operations have been returned to Nassau Live Center,” added the opposition group. “We want affirmation that the Town of Hempstead will pause the SEQRA process given that the judge ordered SEQRA to be managed by the county. The Nassau HUB is taxpayer-owned land, our elected officials should start treating it as such. If our elected officials and LVS were willing to brazenly ignore the law during the lease transfer process, what other laws and rules are they willing to break?”

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