The Las Vegas Sands suffered a tough blow on its plan to bring a casino to Long Island when a judge voided its lease for the site.
The State Supreme Court justice blocked the transfer of the 99-year Nassau Coliseum site lease, Newsday reported. The justice ruled that the Nassau County Planning Commission violated the state’s Open Meetings Law in failing to properly notify the public of a meeting to consider the issue.
Sands announced almost a year ago that it negotiated a deal to take over the site, part of the 72-acre Nassau Hub that remains the county’s largest undeveloped property. The lease dictated Sands pay a $54 million sum to the county upfront, before paying $5 million annually in rent.
The end goal for the Sands is a Vegas-style casino as the company vies for one of the three downstate gaming licenses set to be distributed by New York. The $4 billion project would also include a luxury hotel, entertainment center and housing component, regardless of if a gaming license is awarded to the company.
The political will to build the casino has been strong, but there’s been some community pushback, particularly from nearby Hofstra University. The school president spoke up against the casino and in April, the university brought the lawsuit that resulted in the voided lease.
While the university president celebrated the ruling on Thursday, Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman declined to comment. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sands said the decision wouldn’t impact the company’s bid for a license or its chances of success, at least in the company’s eyes.
After the justice’s ruling, the next steps are for the matter to be kicked back to the Planning Commission and the legislature. The county is also required to conduct a comprehensive environmental review of the Sands’ project.
That could set back the timeline for Sands, but the state’s process for awarding the casino licenses has crawled along, which could prove to be a godsend for the proposal.
— Holden Walter-Warner