Las Vegas Sands proposes multi-billion dollar casino, entertainment complex on Nassau Coliseum site

CBS News
Wild Casino

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- A Las Vegas-based casino and resort giant wants to bring gambling and a multi-billion dollar entertainment complex to the undeveloped area around Nassau Coliseum. 

There have been other doomed ventures on the site, but some are giving this one good odds. 

Las Vegas Sands, one of the biggest names in gaming, has big plans for the Nassau Hub to transform 72 acres around the Coliseum. 

"Hotel rooms, of tourism attractions, of things that the local community can participate in, can have access to, whether that's restaurants," said Sands Senior VP Ron Reese. 

The company entered into an agreement with the site's developer to lease the county-owned land and applied for one of three downstate New York gaming licenses to build a casino and hospitality destination. 

Former Gov. David Paterson is on the team pitching the proposal. 

"Tax revenues and the quality of life goes up, and of course the entertainment choices are expanded exponentially," said Paterson, now a senior VP at Sands. 

After years of doomed proposals - the Lighthouse Project deemed too big - this one has greater odds of winning approval in part because the $4 billion investment would be funded privately. 

"Big is good, busy is good. That means more revenue, more money, more oppotunity, more growth," said Sam Dickerson, a Uniondale businessman. 

Opponents are already calling it the wrong fit, wedged between colleges. 

"Casinos in the long run don't tend to really be good for our community. It brings in a lot of crime," said Nostrand Gardens Civic Association President Pearl Jacobs. 

"Obviously, eventually lower taxes for people who live here, and it will create not only jobs, but careers," said Paterson. 

The company has not decided if the project will proceed without a casino license, but vowed to work with the community. There was no decision on the fate of the Coliseum, but the plan includes a music venue. 

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said he has an open mind about an exciting and interesting proposal, but community buy-in is essential. 

"It had to be something that was first-class and exciting and primarily an entertainment center and hospitality play rather than just a casino," said Blakeman. "Architecturally pleasing, preferably spectacular, and that there was open space." 

One thing is certain, Blakeman said. The valuable property in the heart of Nassau County will not remain vacant. 

Carolyn Gusoff

Carolyn Gusoff has covered some of the most high profile news stories in the New York City area and is best known as a trusted, tenacious, consistent and caring voice of Long Island's concerns.