In a 17-1 vote

NY casino race: Sands gets approval for lease to develop the Nassau Coliseum site in Long Island

New York's Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Reading time 2:32 min

Las Vegas Sands casino project for New York City has seen a new victory, as the Nassau County Legislature voted 17-1 to grant the gaming and hospitality giant a 99-year lease to develop the 80-acre Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site in Uniondale, Long Island. 

Bruce Blakeman, Nassau County Executive, released a statement after the vote: "The overwhelming bipartisan approval of lease terms with the Sands by the County Legislature affirms that Nassau County has made the right decision." 

"This is the first hurdle overcome to provide a world-class entertainment center with a luxury spa and hotel, creating thousands of jobs and economic prosperity for Nassau County. I am very pleased with the vote."

Bruce Blakeman

At the site, Sands intends to develop a $5 billion casino resort that would include outdoor community spaces, four- and five-star hotel rooms, and a world-class live performance venue honoring the legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum. Sands has also said the resort will feature celebrity chef restaurants, experiential events and venues, and flexible meeting and convention space.

A casino would be an essential part of the project, provided that a gaming license is granted by the New York state. However, competition is expected to be fierce, with major Las Vegas- and Nevada-based companies in the race, including MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, and more.

The State of New York will grant up to three casino licenses for the downtown area, and many are expecting slots-only casinos operating at Queens Racetrack Aqueduct and Yonkers Raceway to each get one, allowing them to add table games. That leaves one license among the remaining contenders. The final decision will be taken by the Gaming Commission, and clarity on where a casino would go could come around late spring or early summer. 

While county officials have touted the project as a revenue driver for the region, many stakeholders have shown opposition to the development, as they believe it could bring traffic congestion and crime to the area. Opponents were still trying to make their case ahead of the vote, as a group that included local mayors joined a Sunday rally condemning the plans. Some have said they'll take their case to Albany — which ultimately gets the final call in determining where a casino may be built.

However, labor and business leaders supporting the project have maintained that the project will create 8,500 jobs and generate an estimated $100 million in annual revenue around the Coliseum. Nassau County Executive Blakeman has also repeatedly stood in support of the project as well.

"It's taking a property sitting there for more than four decades and giving it life to make sure it's a generator of taxes," said Matthew Aracich, the President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

New York's Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

There's still a long way ahead for the company. There still needs to be an environment review and, most importantly, a casino license must be secured. Las Vegas Sands Vice President Ron Reese said the group knows that winning the lease is just the first step, as nothing can be built there without the gaming permit first. "This is the jumping-off point for this process. It's not the end; it's the beginning," he said, as reported by NBC New York.

In a statement after the approval, Sands Chairman and CEO Robert Goldstein also called it "an important step" in the company's efforts to secure a New York gaming license and ultimately develop a world-class hospitality, entertainment and gaming destination.

"We are proud of the widespread coalition we have built with our new neighbors across Long Island," Goldstein said. "We are grateful for the trust they have placed in us and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the community."

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