Hofstra president Susan Poser debunks Sands casino as bad bet, urges local lawmakers to nix it

New York Post
Hofstra president Susan Poser debunks Sands casino as bad bet, urges local lawmakers to nix it
Wild Casino

The president of Hofstra University is urging Long Island lawmakers to nix a plan for Las Vegas Sands Corp. to put a casino at the Nassau Coliseum near its campus — claiming it’ll be more trouble than it’s worth.

“The casino proposed by Las Vegas Sands runs directly counter to the interests of our local population and will create dangers rather than benefits,” Hofstra leader Susan Poser said in draft testimony obtained by The Post.

In her stinging 13-page testimony to be presented to Nassau County lawmakers voting on the plan Monday, Poser said a casino on Hempstead Turnpike at the Nassau Hub in Uniondale will trigger intractable problems while draining business from local merchants and hurting disadvantaged minority communities.

She also questioned the integrity of Las Vegas Sands, which has shifted its focus overseas in Asia and is trying to revive a presence in the US.

Hofstra, which opened in 1935, is the main private college on Long Island.

“The Nassau Hub is not an appropriate place to site a casino development for a host of reasons,” she said. “Because it would create serious dangers and hazardous conditions for our community – including gambling addiction, crime, traffic congestion, and pollution – I urge the Legislature to vote against the proposed grant of this lease to Las Vegas Sands,” she said.

She also blasted Las Vegas Sands as being “motivated by short-term profit” to its shareholders rather than the interests of Long Islanders.

“To Las Vegas Sands, we are just another bet placed on a gambling table,” Poser said. “High wins per unit from a casino means high losses for those who go to the casino to gamble, the majority of whom will be repeat players from Nassau County.”

Poser called out the Sands’ exit from the US market — even selling its Las Vegas casinos to focus on its assets in Asia — and that it’s now trying to rebound in the US.

“The area surrounding the Nassau Hub is densely populated by a student population, and multiple studies demonstrate that students are particularly susceptible to gambling addiction,” she said. “I refer to the over 32,000 combined students attending Hofstra University, Nassau Community College, and Kellenberg Memorial High School, which are all literally across the street from the Nassau Hub. If one ventures a few blocks farther, there are additional preschool, primary, and secondary schools, eventually reaching almost 60,000 students within a 6‐mile radius.” .

Poser continued, “Nassau County should not situate a gambling center in a location brimming with young people who are especially predisposed to such risky behavior. As a professional educator, I entreat you to weigh the risks to our youth posed by placing a casino in the heart of a local university community and near many other schools with students ranging from preschool through high school.”

She also noted the proposed casino, if approved by state regulators, would be located near Uniondale, Hempstead and Roosevelt — predominantly minority and lower income neighborhoods.

And citing studies, Poser said casinos attract crime and illegal drugs — and even mentioned a jump in lawbreaking outside Jakes’s 58 slots parlor in Islandia in Suffolk County.

Yet there’s no analysis on what the casino’s impact on traffic along already  congested Hempstead Turnpike as well as the water supply, she argued, also questioning the long-term economic benefits of a casino.

According to Poser, other uses are preferable, like a technology and life sciences hub that could partner with Hofstra and Nassau Community College.

“In regard to casinos, evidence from the experience of others shows that, while there may be some short‐term economic gains, the benefits are outweighed in the long run in an area like Long Island where casinos will shift revenue from existing businesses serving our community,” said Poser. 

She also argued most gamblers heading there would be from nearby Long Island communities.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman last month endorsed the Sands plan for the Nassau Coliseum site. The county owns the property around Nassau Coliseum, and he announced a 99-year lease with Sands.

On Sunday, he pushed back at Poser’s criticism.

“Hofstra is certainly entitled to have their say but to say crime will be a problem is simply not true,” he said in a statement to the Post. “The Nassau County Police will have enhanced patrols paid for by the Sands and over 200 private security guards will be hired. This is a luxury entertainment site not a 1970s era casino on the strip.”

Sands says it has own list of organizations that back the Nassau casino.

Asked about Hofstra’s criticism, Sands countered Sunday with its own list of organizations that back the Nassau casino.

“As this process moves forward, we are very gratified to have received great support from organizations in the surrounding communities and throughout Long Island including Nassau Community College, Long Island University, NAACP New York State Conference, leaders in organized labor, local and regional chambers of Commerce including Uniondale Chamber of Commerce, Long Island African American and Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, numerous not for profit organizations, small businesses and many others,” a Sands spokesman said.

The Sands plan is a roll of the dice even without opposition.

State regulators would have to award the Las Vegas Sands a license to operate, even, as expected, the Republican-controlled Nassau County legislature gives its blessing to the transfer of property to Sands.

The state is expected to approve three casino licenses, with a bulk of revenue from licensing fees and revenues going to prop up the financing of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  

Opposition is building elsewhere against casinos, however. Brooklyn’s Community Board 13 recently approved a non-binding resolution against locating a casino along the Coney Island Island boardwalk. Many Manhattanites also don’t want a casino in or around their neighborhoods.

Other gaming operators are vying for one of three downstate casino licenses.

Gaming giant Bally’s is betting on The Bronx — proposing a casino on the Trump Organization’s public golf course at Ferry Point.

The owners of the existing slots parlors at the Aqueduct race track in Ozone Park, Queens, and Yonkers race track — Genting/ Resorts World and MGM’s Empire City — are expected to submit bids to expand their offerings to include table games.

Meanwhile, Mets owner Cohen is eyeing a casino near the team’s stadium in Flushing, potentially partnering with Seminole Hard Rock. A 25,000-seat professional soccer stadium is also planned in the vicinity.

Others planning bids to operate a casino include the Steve Ross-Related Companies/Wynn Resorts partnership for Hudson Yards, the landlord SL Green/Caesars Entertainment team in Times Square.