Long Island News: Las Vegas Sands Gets Approval to Develop Casino Around Nassau Coliseum

NBC New York
Long Island News: Las Vegas Sands Gets Approval to Develop Casino Around Nassau Coliseum
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Plans to bring a casino to Long Island have taken a big step forward, but there's still a long way to go.

The Nassau County Legislature voted 17-1 Monday night to to grant Las Vegas Sands a 99-year lease to develop the 72-acre area around the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. The $5-billion project will include a casino, hotel, entertainment venue and housing.

Opponents against the plan said it would bring traffic congestion and crime to the area. They were still trying to make their case ahead of the vote, as a group that included local mayors joined a Sunday rally condemning the plans. Some have said they'll take their case to Albany — which ultimately gets the final call in determining where a casino may be built.

Labor and business leaders are among the supporters who have maintained that the project will create 8,500 jobs and generate an estimate $100 million in annual revenue around the Coliseum. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman also stood in support of the project as well.

"It's taking a property sitting there for more than four decades and giving it life, to make sure it's a generator of taxes," said Matthew Aracich, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

But it's far from a done deal. There still needs to be an environment review, and perhaps most importantly, a gaming license. Las Vegas Sands Vice President Ron Reese said the groups knows that winning the lease is just the first step, as nothing can be built there without the gaming license first.

"This is the jumping off point for this process. It's no the end, it's the beginning," said Reese.

In a statement after the approval, Sands Chairman and CEO Robert Goldstein called it "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...we 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."

Three prized gaming licenses are up for grabs and there are nearly a dozen bids with big name support. Other places looking to get a license include Coney Island, Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx.

Competition is fierce because even though downstate New York is eligible for three licenses, many are expecting Queens racetrack Aqueduct and Yonkers Raceway to each get one because they already have slot machines. That leaves one prize among the remaining contenders: a list that includes a plan to build a Ferris wheel and casino on the east side near the UN and a casino on the roof of Saks Fifth Avenue.

There's a proposal for a casino at Hudson Yards, as well as a plan to remove the Trump name from Trump Links and build a casino in the Bronx. Those are in competition to plans for a high-rise hotel and casino known as Caesar's Palace Times Square and a bid to land a casino license next to Citi Field.

The decision will come down to the state-controlled Gaming Commission. When it became an issue in the race for governor in the fall, Gov. Kathy Hochul stayed focused on the economics of a casino.

"We have an opportunity to create thousands of jobs for people in hospitality for people who haven’t come back because of the pandemic," she said.

Clarity on where a casino would go could come around late spring or early summer.