Las Vegas Sands Casino Plan Advances as Nassau Pols OK Lease

Long Island Press
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Nassau County lawmakers approved Monday a 99-year lease with Las Vegas Sands, which proposed replacing the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with a $4 billion casino resort in Uniondale, over the objection of neighbors concerned about crime.

The Republican-majority county Legislature voted nearly unanimously in favor of the proposal, with Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D-Glen Cove) opposed and Democratic Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) who abstained following a lengthy debate on one of the most pivotal proposals to come before the panel in years.

“The overwhelming bipartisan approval of lease terms with the Sands by the county Legislature affirms that Nassau County has made the right decision,” Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said. “This is the first hurdle overcome to provide a world class entertainment center with a luxury spa and hotel, creating thousands of jobs and economic prosperity for Nassau County.”

The plan comes as New York State is considering three contracts for casinos to be awarded in the New York Metro area as a part of a plan that has been years in the works to allow Las Vegas-style casinos to be established in the region on land outside of Native American territories. Besides needing the state’s OK, the idea also needs Town of Hempstead zoning approval, environmental reviews, and other checks.

“Tonight’s vote is only the first step in the casino siting process,”  the Say NO to the Casino Civic Association, which has been rallying and petitioning against the proposal, said in a statement. “It is not a fait accompli. As the process moves forward, we are confident that community opposition from our group and others will be successful in preventing the Las Vegas Sands from building a casino at the heart of our county.” 

The proposal is the latest in a decades-long string of ideas on how to redevelop the 72-acre site at the heart of the area known as the Nassau Hub, which includes the coliseum, office buildings, parks and two college campuses. Business advocates welcomed the latest vision for the property, which includes a massive parking lot for the largely unused coliseum.

“The Sands New York proposal is an opportunity to finally transform this site into the economic engine Long Island needs to create thousands of jobs, generate hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues, and support small business growth,” said Long Island Association President and CEO Matt Cohen. “The project should move forward, however, there are legitimate questions which we will continue to vigilantly monitor throughout the state and local approval processes to ensure Sands New York addresses and mitigates any valid community concerns.”

The proponents rolling the dice that the state will pick the site for one of the three casino contracts were pleased that the vote advances the plan to the next round.

“The approval granted today by the Nassau County Legislature is an important step in our company’s efforts to secure a New York gaming license and ultimately develop a world-class hospitality, entertainment and gaming destination,” said Robert G. Goldstein, Sands chairman and chief executive officer. “We have held over 300 community meetings and are proud of the widespread coalition we have built with our new neighbors across Long Island. We are grateful for the trust they have placed in us and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the community.”