Las Vegas Sands Seeking Tax Breaks for Long Island Casino

Posted on: May 31, 2023, 02:46h. 

Last updated on: June 1, 2023, 01:17h.

Las Vegas Sands wants to open a $4 billion integrated resort in Uniondale, NY, and will reportedly ask Nassau County for some tax relief.

Long Island Casino
Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. Las Vegas Sands wants some tax relief to open a Long Island casino. (Image: Brooklyn Vegan)

The gaming company’s proposal recently won the support of County Executive Bruce Blakeman, and the legislature there last week voted 17-1 in favor of allowing Sands to move forward. So there’s clear political support for the casino hotel, but how willing policymakers are to forego needed revenue is a different matter.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a Sands source close to the matter told Newsday the operator is seeking sales tax exemption on certain items and “a reduction in the mortgage recording tax.” Instead of those taxes, Sands would make other payments to Nassau County, to the Hempstead public school and system, and to other relevant “taxing jurisdictions.”

The sales tax abatement the Las Vegas-based company is seeking pertains to construction equipment, raw materials, and furnishings for the casino resort. Nassau County’s sales tax rates reach as high as 8.875%, with New York’s state minimum of 4% applied throughout the county. Hempstead and Uniondale each have sales tax rates of 8.625%, according to the Sales Tax Handbook.

Tax Breaks Often Tied to Large-Scale Projects

Sands’ efforts to procure tax relief in Nassau County aren’t far-flung. It’s a tactic frequently employed by entities looking to bring large-scale projects, including hotels and stadiums, to new jurisdictions.

The Sands source told Newsday that the gaming company hasn’t held talks with the Nassau County Industrial Development Association (IDA) regarding the possibility of tax relief.

However, the gaming company could be dealing from a position of strength. It wants to develop the Nassau Coliseum site into a casino hotel. Currently, the county owns that venue, meaning it’s not collecting any property tax on it. Sands has a 99-year lease on the former home of the NHL’s New York Islanders.

Additionally, the proposed gaming project will create thousands of jobs, and the influx of visitors to the property, assuming it’s approved, will generate new streams of sales tax receipts for the county.

Sands Chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein recently said the operator’s overall New York spend could be $5 billion to $6 billion, noting those figures are well in excess of the less than $1 billion the company spent to develop Sands Bethlehem.

Precedent Could Work in Sands’ Favor

There is some precedent for tax relief relating to Nassau Coliseum. The Nassau County IDA gave developer Bruce Ratner $4.5 million worth of reduced levies to operate the venue, including reduced sales and mortgage taxes.

Ratner used some sale tax exemptions, as did the Islanders in 2019, while the team used Nassau Coliseum while waiting for a new venue to be built, according to Newsday.

Sands must still clear environmental and zoning assessments. It must also be selected for one of three downstate casino licenses by New York policymakers before it can break ground on the Long Island gaming venue.