Nassau County to Hold Hearing on Sands Casino Lease Transfer

Posted on: June 18, 2024, 05:37h. 

Last updated on: June 19, 2024, 10:10h.

Nassau County and Las Vegas Sands will get another shot to rectify issues surrounding the county’s transfer of lease rights on Nassau Hub to the gaming company later this week at a public hearing conducted by the Nassau County Planning Commission.

Hofstra University Nassau Coliseum Sands casino
The Nassau Coliseum. The Nassau County Planning Commission will hold a meeting Thursday to evaluate the county’s lease transfer agreement with Las Vegas Sands. (Image: Newsday)

The meeting, slated for 10 a.m. Thursday marks a “do-over” of sorts after New York State Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor ruled last year that the prior lease agreement between the county and the gaming company violated New York’s open meeting laws. That suit was brought by Hofstra University, which has been vocal in its opposition to a casino hotel being constructed near its campus.

An agenda for the Thursday meeting, which will also be conducted virtually, confirms the planning commission will discuss the lease transfer.

While Sands intends to seek to develop a casino at the Coliseum site, the proposed lease does not authorize the Coliseum site to (i) be developed or (ii) used for a casino, and any such authorization will occur, if at all, through a separate lease in the future that will be subject to public comment. The lease will also be discussed at the Commission’s 8:45 A.M. work session on the same date at the same location,” according to the agenda.

Properly executing the lease transfer is essential because the agreement grants Sands rights to control and redevelop the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.

Why Nassau County Lease is Pivotal

In May 2023, Nassau County legislators voted 17-1 in favor of granting Sands a 99-year lease to develop county-owned land on the Nassau Hub site. It was later reported that the gaming company paid $241 million for those rights.

That confirms Sands has already made a significant financial commitment to the project. Additionally, the operator has noted, as have other contenders for the three downstate casino permits, that those projects lack appeal if casinos aren’t included.

Rectifying the lease transfer accord is important to both the county and LVS because should New York accelerate the approval of the downstate casino licenses, experts believe that bidders contending with land use and legal issues could be deemed undesirable by state regulators.

Sands has pledged a $6 billion redevelopment of Nassau Hub, including a casino resort, convention center, entertainment space, and a slew of dining options. That’s more than the operator ever spent to develop integrated resorts in the US, but that commitment would likely fall by the wayside if the casino bid isn’t tenable, underscoring the importance of getting the lease transfer right.

Nassau County Casino Not Guaranteed

While the planning commission’s Thursday meeting is a step in the right direction and could go a long way toward confirming the county and LVS are endeavoring to comply with open meeting laws, it’s the first step in a wide-ranging process.

Said another way, the meeting doesn’t guarantee the casino plan will be approved. An environmental review needs to be conducted and final approval will occur through other avenues.

The matter before the planning commission “does not authorize the Coliseum site to be developed or used for a casino, and any such authorization will occur, if at all, through a separate lease in the future that will be subject to public comment,” according to the agenda.