Hofstra In Cahoots with Queens Casino Bidders, Alleges Nassau County Pol

Posted on: January 17, 2024, 06:53h. 

Last updated on: January 18, 2024, 11:46h.

Hofstra University, which has emerged as the leading opponent to Las Vegas Sands’ efforts to bring a casino hotel to Nassau County, N.Y., may be working with representatives of Hard Rock International to bolster the operator’s bid for a Queens casino.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has accused Hofstra University of colluding with Hard Rock International to stymie a Long Island casino plan. (Image: YouTube)

Hard Rock, which is the gaming arm of Florida’s Seminole Tribe, is working with New York Mets owner Steve Cohen to procure one of the three downstate gaming permits New York regulators are expected to award this year. Hard Rock and Cohen are hoping to build a casino resort across from Citi Field in an effort that has met with ample resistance, and which is viewed as controversial.

It’s not a certainty, but there are some signs that Hard Rock may be working with Hofstra in some form. Newsday recently procured an email from Hard Rock lobbyist Michael McKeon that was forwarded to Hard Rock Vice President of Business Development Sean Caffery and Point 72 Chief of Staff Michael Sullivan. Point 72 is Cohen’s family office investment vehicle.

The message pertained to Sands’ plan to move forward with an environmental review in the town of Hempstead — an effort opposed by Hofstra.

I may not have forward [sic] this too [sic] you on Wednesday, but it speaks to Sands’ efforts to control the site,” the email from McKeon said. “I am checking with Hofstra to see if they will oppose the move.”

Newsday reported that it’s not clear if McKeon made contact with Hofstra representatives. However, he has ties to the university, including to board of trustees member Peter Kalikow. Both men worked for former New York Gov. George Pataki, a Republican. A spokesman told Newsday Kalikow hasn’t been in touch with McKeon.

Hofstra Collusion Allegation Murky

While it’s not yet clear whether or not Hard Rock and Hofstra are teaming up, two other points aren’t up for debate. First, Hofstra doesn’t want a gaming venue on Long Island. Second, the competition for the three New York City casino licenses is intense and could potentially foster an assortment of Hollywood-esque scenarios.

As for Hofstra, the university last April sued Nassau County, claiming the county’s plan to transfer the lease on the Nassau Coliseum to Sands violated the state’s open meeting laws. Following a series of court rulings, that transfer has been halted. However, Sands wants to move forward with the environmental review.

In an interesting twist of fate, groups opposed to the casino are urging Hempstead not to move forward with two public comment sessions scheduled for Thursday. It’s not clear what role, if any, Hofstra is playing in that effort.

Blakeman Used the “C” Word

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who has long-favored Sands turning the Coliseum into a casino hotel, didn’t hold back in chastising Hard Rock and Hofstra for potentially having a relationship.

We found that Hofstra University and one of the competitors to Las Vegas Sands were working in coordination and some might even say collusion,” Blakeman said at a press conference on Wednesday. “You have an applicant for a license that’s not supposed to be colluding or coordinating with any other entity against anybody else’s application.”

Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Howard Kopel said he has signed multiple subpoenas for Hofstra President Susan Poser. He is demanding testimony on and documents related to the college’s possible contact with Hard Rock.