Nassau Coliseum Casino Proposal—Another Setback in Court for Las Vegas Sands

Las Vegas Sands (LVS) has hit another stumbling block in its plan to build a casino at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site in Long Island, New York. On Feb. 23, Judge Sarika Kapoor ruled that LVS lacks a valid lease to operate the Coliseum and its surrounding land.

In her decision, Kapoor reiterated that LVS’s lease transfer deal is invalid. LVS had negotiated to take over the Coliseum from its previous leaseholder, Nassau Live Center, LLC. Kapoor added that any new lease agreement between Nassau County and LVS must be in writing. It also must comply with all codes and laws, including the Open Meetings Law.

Kapoor annulled the lease transfer in November.

Sands needs to hold a valid lease for the property if it hopes to receive one of the three downstate New York casino licenses. Kapoor ordered Nassau County to restart the process and conduct an environmental review of the proposal’s impacts.

Another Victory for Casino Opponents

The latest Kapoor ruling marks another victory for Hofstra University in its dispute with Nassau County, which owns the Coliseum. Hofstra, which is located next to the venue, sued the county last April. It argued that the county’s planning commission violated the Open Meetings Law when it transferred the Coliseum’s 99-year lease from its former tenant to LVS. The law states that the public has the right to attend meetings of public bodies and listen to or watch debates and decision-making.

The county appealed the November decision. It argued that Sands held leaseholder rights under a private deal with the former tenant. In December, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Second Judicial Department, upheld Kapoor’s November ruling. It also denied a request from the Nassau County Planning Commission to stop the ruling while it appealed.

Another opponent of the proposed casino, Say No to the Casino Civic Association, called for a pause in the Nassau County environmental review. The association also says that the county should treat the venue as the public land it is. It also calls for the return of the Coliseum to its previous tenant.

Is There Still Time for Sands’ Casino Hopes?

In 2022, the New York Legislature voted for three downstate New York casino licenses. The licenses have attracted 11 potential applicants even though the bidding starts at $1 billion—a minimum bid of $500 million for the license and a minimum commitment of $500 million in capital investment. The LVS proposal rings in at $4 billion to $5 billion.

The licensing process is moving forward much slower than anticipated. The New York State Gaming Commission hasn’t even started accepting applications yet. That’s because it’s still working its way through over 450 questions submitted by the casino license hopefuls on Oct. 6, 2023. Using the previous set of questions’ timeline as a reference shows that it might take a while for all questions to be answered. The potential applicants submitted 613 questions on Feb.3 and received answers on Aug. 30.

Another source of delays is the Gaming Facility Location Board. It will be responsible for selecting the winning licensees but doesn’t yet have its full complement of board members. Three members were appointed in 2022, while a fourth was added in December 2023. New York law stipulates a five-member Board, so there’s still one more needed.

Though frustrating to many, the delays could be beneficial LVS. The slower the process, the more time the company has to fight its battle in court or, if necessary, begin the lease transfer process anew.

About the Author

Chav Vasilev

Chav Vasilev

After years of managing fast-casual restaurants, Chav turned his passion for sports and occasional slot wins into a career as an iGaming writer. Sharing his time between Europe and the US, he has been exposed to betting and gambling for years and has closely followed the growth in the US. Chav is a proponent of playing responsibly and playing only at legal online sites. When not writing, you will find him watching and betting on sports, especially soccer, or trying to land the next big bonus on a slot.
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