Following Hofstra University's lawsuit

New York State Judge rules Sands lacks valid lease to operate its planned $4B resort in Nassau County

Rendering for Sands' proposed casino resort in Nassau County
Reading time 1:48 min

New York State Supreme Court Judge Sarika Kapoor said on Friday that Las Vegas Sands lacks a valid lease to operate the Nassau Coliseum and the land around it, dealing another major blow to the company's plan to develop a multibillion-dollar resort and casino at the site.

In turn, the ruling marks another win for Hofstra University, which opposes the casino plan, in its ongoing dispute with Nassau County, which owns the Coliseum and had granted Sands a 99-year lease to operate it.

Kapoor, who had already struck down the company's lease with Nassau County, said a separate agreement Sands has with the Coliseum's previous leaseholder also is not valid. 

Judge Kapoor's decision was particularly significant for Hofstra, which spearheaded legal action in April, arguing Nassau's planning commission violated open meetings laws when it transferred the lease from the Coliseum's former tenant, Nassau Live Center. Kapoor in November ordered Nassau to redo the process and conduct an environmental review before considering a new lease. The county is appealing that ruling.

In the meantime, Nassau argued that Sands held leaseholder rights under a private deal with Nassau Live Center, and moved the development forward in the Town of Hempstead to begin environmental and zoning reviews.

"The Court has issued another important ruling needed to protect the public’s rights under state and county laws," Hofstra attorney Adam Schuman said in a statement as reported by Long Island News.

"The Nassau Coliseum cannot be transferred or developed without a public hearing and environmental review first being properly conducted by the County so that the public can provide its input to such critical decisions for the future of the County." 

Chris Boyle, a spokesman for County Executive Bruce Blakeman, said the county attorney is reviewing the order. 

Steve Losquadro, special counsel for Hempstead Town, said: "The town just received the decision issued by the judge, we are carefully reviewing it and will determine how it applies to the town." 

The county and Sands had banked on securing a site to boost Sands' bid for one of three competitive state gaming licenses to be awarded in the downstate region. 

Sands paid Nassau Live Center $241 million to take over the Coliseum lease, according to a company filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The filing also shows Sands made an initial $54 million payment to the county.

But in her 16-page decision, Kapoor wrote: "The assignment of the original lease ... is not a mere private transaction between nonparties. The fact remains that the assigned lease has been terminated."

"Any new lease agreement between Nassau County and [Las Vegas Sands] would need to be in writing and comply with, among other things, the Nassau County administrative code and Open Meetings Law."

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