Sands joins downstate NY casino race with multi-billion dollar Long Island bid

Sands joins downstate NY casino race with multi-billion dollar Long Island bid
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Las Vegas Sands announced Thursday it will bid for a multi-billion dollar casino at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site on Long Island, New York. The company’s move to pursue an opportunity in the Empire State follows a New York Gaming Facility Location Board vote earlier this month that opened up the application process for three downstate NY casino licenses.

With the New York State Gaming Commission’s Request for Application now open, the business is proposing a “flagship hospitality, entertainment and casino project” on Long Island. The company has entered into agreements to purchase the long-term lease of the site currently home to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The transactions, which still require certain approvals, would grant the company control of up to 80 acres in Nassau County.

"Our company's track record of driving significant economic benefits to the communities in which we operate and the meaningful relationships and partnerships we have created in each of those communities gives us a unique perspective on what it takes to develop transformative tourism destinations that positively impact the local community,” said Sands CEO and Chairman Robert Goldstein.

The integrated resorts components of the Long Island development would include outdoor community spaces, four and five-star hotel rooms and a world-class live performance venue “honoring the long legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum,” the Nevada-based casino and resort giant said in a statement outlining the project.

The resort property would also feature celebrity chef restaurants, experiential events and venues and flexible meeting and convention space, including ballrooms. Other amenities would include high-quality casino gaming – which Las Vegas Sands said is planned to represent “less than ten percent of the project's total square footage” –, a luxurious day spa, swimming pool and health club, and a variety of other entertainment programming.

Building upon years of community outreach at the site by RXR Realty, Sands will work with local Long Island communities to co-create a development plan and bid that ensures that the new integrated entertainment and hospitality resort maximizes economic opportunity, helps to build stronger communities, and protects the quality of life for all Long Islanders,” said the firm.

Sands further stated it will “re-activate the various working groups previously established” by RXR “to identify the goals and opportunities for local residents.” The real estate owner and developer also spoke in favor of the project.

"After nearly two decades of working to transform the Nassau Coliseum site [...], the message has been overwhelmingly clear that Long Islanders want a global renowned entertainment destination that creates well-paying jobs and new opportunities at the Nassau Hub,” said Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR. “But the challenge for turning this vision into reality has always been the commercial viability of a site encumbered by a nearly obsolete half-century-old arena." 

For Rechler, Sands’ project is a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity to bring a world-renowned entertainment and hospitality destination that has been sought after by Long Islanders. It would produce “tens of millions of dollars” in tax revenue for the local community on an annual basis, added Goldstein, potentially offering property tax relief for residents. It would also provide a lift for local businesses “through a robust procurement program” and support community causes.

"Long Island has always attracted entrepreneurial businesses, and in this case, it would be creating an entirely new industry for the region,” Las Vegas Sands’ CEO added. “The breadth and depth of the job opportunities created from this development, including many with no prior experience or minimum education requirements needed, are unlikely to be matched by any other proposal the state receives.”

In its announcement, Sands also focused on diversity and inclusion strategies. “Our goal will be to ensure that our supply chain is fulfilled from small businesses, minority-owned, women-owned as well as veteran and disabled entrepreneurs based locally so that our surrounding communities are central and fully participating in the success of this project,” said former New York Gov. and Sands Senior Vice President David A. Paterson.

The company would also bring its environmental sustainability program Sands ECO360 on board, committing to utilizing “cutting-edge sustainable building and operating practices” for development. Sands would seek guidance from “Long Island's environmental leaders” on its ambition to achieve LEED certification in its goal of being the “greenest” building in the area.

Sands’ Thursday announcement confirms prior rumors that the gaming giant was eyeing Nassau County for its application. Participation in the New York bidding process marks a major step in the firm’s expansion efforts for the US: while based in Las Vegas, the company currently has no domestic gaming properties. Instead, its Asian-facing properties portfolio consists of five integrated resorts in Macau, and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

According to what Paterson told Newsday last month, he is the one that suggested taking a look at Long Island “because of all the congestion in Manhattan.” Additionally, Nassau County offers a solid opportunity to Sands given its status as the second-most populous county in New York after New York City. A casino in Long Island would also benefit from the area being a short drive away from the Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.

Sands will face stiff competition, including a $3 billion plan to build a casino resort at Brooklyn’s Coney Island, championed by Thor Equities, Legends, the Chickasaw Nation and Saratoga Casino Holdings; and a plan for a casino on the western half of Hudson Yards, proposed by Wynn Resorts and New York City real estate giant Related Companies. 

Other proposals include a plan by Caesars Entertainment, which has partnered with real estate heavyweight SL Green, calling for “a premiere entertainment and gaming destination” in the heart of Times Square. Meanwhile, NY Mets owner Steve Cohen has been consulting the local community on a casino near the team’s Citi Field in Willets Point, Queens.

The owners of the existing slots parlors at the Aqueduct race track in Ozone Park, Queens and Yonkers race track — Genting’s Resorts World and MGM’s Empire City — are also set to submit bids, which would expand their current offerings to include table games. The properties are believed to be solid candidates in the race, as the venues are established entities known to policymakers.