Las Vegas Sands could be in for a prolonged legal tussle as part of its plans to bring a $4 billion casino hotel at the site of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY.
Nassau County, New York on a map. Las Vegas Sands could be in for a long legal rift in its quest for a New York casino license. (Image: CBS New York)
Earlier this month, the appellate division of the New York State Supreme Court put a hold on a state Supreme Court decision that voided the county’s transfer of the Coliseum to the gaming company, but that could still represent the early innings in what could be a lengthy legal rift between the country and Hofstra University.
Hofstra, which is the plaintiff in the case, argued that Nassau County officials violated New York’s Open Meetings Law and skirted environmental studies in an effort to expedite the lease transfer to Sands. Since the start of 2023, the casino operator has paid $241 million to the former leaseholder, Nassau Live Center LLC, and $54 million to the county as the lease accord requires.
Legal wranglings are slated to resume Tuesday, but that could still throw a wrench in Sands’ New York plans. Yvonne Hennessey, chair of the New York Bar Association’s environmental law section, told Candace Ferrette of Newsday that even basic environmental cases are taking years to move forward in the state.
Potential Outcomes for Sands New York Casino Plans
Following the sale of the Venetian and related assets on the Las Vegas Strip in 2021, and the failure of gaming expansion legislation in Texas earlier this year, New York is the focal point of Sands’ domestic efforts.
The potential outcomes are binary. Should the court swiftly reject Hoftstra’s claims, the lease transfer would proceed, allowing Sands to move forward with its bid for one of three downstate casino permits New York regulators are expected to award.
Should Hofstra emerge victorious, Sands would likely have to throw in the towel on its Nassau County plans and find another potential casino site in the New York City area or abandon plans in the region.
Earlier this year, the gaming company announced its intent to focus on Nassau County in an effort to allay concerns about casinos bringing more traffic to already congested Manhattan. Additionally, Long Island is a short drive to the Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, making the Sands location desirable.
Time is of the Essence
How quickly the appellate court moves on the case could be a significant factor in determining Sands’ ability to adequately compete for a New York casino permit.
To date, the bidding process has been largely vilified by industry observers for being sluggish and potentially corrupt. It was expected that New York regulators would announce the three winning bidders in 2024, but it’s possible that gets dragged out to the following year.
While Las Vegas Sands has long been rumored to be one of the frontrunners for one of those licenses, a long legal battle or a swiftly delivered decision against the gaming company could put the kibosh on its efforts to enter New York.
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