The proposed New York City casino from Las Vegas Sands at the Nassau Hub site took a big step forward this week when Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced a 99-year lease agreement between the county government and the casino company.
The deal requires Sands to pay the county $60 million up front regardless of whether they are awarded one of the downstate casino licenses. Rent for the property is $5 million a month for now but would double to $10 million a month if Sands obtains a license. Blakeman reported that he expects an additional $25 million annually to the county of the project moves forward.
“We are going to develop the Coliseum site and bring a world-class hotel and entertainment center funded by a casino. We believe that will bring jobs, economic prosperity, tax relief, and improved safety to Nassau County,” Blakeman said during a Wednesday press conference.
“Our company’s track-record of developing iconic, economy-changing developments is well-documented and we have every intention of bringing both our proven ability and a sizeable appetite to developing here on Long Island,” Sands Chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein said in a statement.
Even with the reputation of Sands and the support of the county, a license is not guaranteed. The project is not without its opponents either, including the neighboring university Hofstra.
Hofstra took its vocal opposition a step further when the school filed suit against the county saying meetings between the local government and Sands ran afoul of public meeting laws. Hofstra alleges that the county failed to provide proper notification of meetings with the company and failed to give groups like the university an opportunity to attend.
“It’s serious because this is an enormous tract of public land that they are considering essentially transferring to a private multi-national casino company. That’s of huge interest to the public whether they are for it or against it,” Hofstra President Susan Poser told the local news.
Hofstra provided the NY Post the following statement about the lease announcement:
“We look forward to seeing the newly negotiated lease and having the opportunity to participate in a proper public hearing and provide our views, along with other members of our community. The lease signing we saw today was ceremonial. It is up to the Nassau County Planning Commission and the Nassau County Legislature to decide whether to approve the transfer of this lease to Las Vegas Sands.”
Despite the support or lack thereof at the local level, the ultimate decision maker when it comes to which projects will receive licenses is the New York Gaming Facility Board, which will take into account local support, but that is far from the only factor.