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Las Vegas Sands’ Nassau Coliseum Agreement Fails Further Legal Scrutiny

Written By Derek Helling on February 26, 2024 - Last Updated on February 29, 2024
islanders fans at nassau coliseum

One of the most essential components of a proposal to build a casino is having a place to build that casino. Currently, the Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) can’t confidently make that claim about its bid for a downstate New York casino license without raising some eyebrows.

Legal challenges to Sands’ plan to convert the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island to a casino have mostly prevailed. That narrative strengthened when a New York judge invalidated an agreement between Sands and another commercial entity connected to the coliseum. While final legal actions are still pending, time is not on Sands’ side.

Sands is technically without a site for the proposed downstate NY casino

At this time, Sands has no tangible legal claim to the Nassau Coliseum or the surrounding land. That’s mostly because of a lawsuit that Hofstra University filed against the Nassau County Planning Commission.

In that complaint, the university alleged that the county violated New York open meeting laws when it granted a lease for the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum to Sands. A state judge agreed, voided the lease, and ordered the commission to reevaluate the situation under state law.

While that decision is on appeal, the county argued that Sands held a separate agreement with the last tenant of the coliseum, Nassau Live Center LLC. That is no longer the case, either, according to a news story by Brandon Cruz of the Long Island Herald.

The same judge who ruled against the commission on the lease also invalidated Sands’ agreement with Nassau Live Center LLC. Thus, Sands has no legal claim to the site, pending successful appeals. That situation seems to suit some in the local community.

Civic group reacts to judge’s ruling on commercial agreement

A statement from the Say No to the Casino Civic Association expressed contentment with the ruling invalidating the agreement. Moreover, the group called for a response from the county’s leadership as to why the county executed a lease with Sands in the manner it did.

“The residents of Nassau County have a right to know why County Executive Bruce Blakeman, the County Legislature, and LVS would continue to flagrantly ignore Judge Kapoor’s November ruling, proceed with the process as if LVS retained land control, and push the Town of Hempstead to begin the SEQRA process.

We want confirmation from Mr. Blakeman and the County Legislature that any actions taken under the assumption that LVS controlled the lease will be immediately unwound. We want reassurances that control of the Nassau HUB land and coliseum operations have been returned to Nassau Live Center.

We want affirmation that the Town of Hempstead will pause the SEQRA process given that the judge ordered SEQRA to be managed by the county. The Nassau HUB is taxpayer-owned land, our elected officials should start treating it as such.”

While appeals play out in the lawsuit, Sands has a mammoth undertaking in seeking a coveted downstate casino license. The litigation may prove fatal to Sands’ bid even if the commission ultimately prevails in the lawsuit.

Delays could doom Sands’ casino license bid

At the very least, the nullification of Sands’ lease for the coliseum represents a delay in Sands presenting a robust bid to state regulators, who will determine which parties receive a license. While it’s currently unknown exactly when those decisions will be announced, competition for the three licenses is fierce.

Additionally, the difference between bids that win licensure and those that fail to do so could be slight. Other bids are more firm in having access to a site to develop a casino upon licensure.

The uncertain status of that pertinent component of Sands’ bid could give other bids the edge they need.

To resolve that issue, Sands needs the commission to settle this legal quandary and do so quickly. If the situation drags on to when regulators finalize their bid evaluations, Sands’ chances of winning a license could be slim.

Photo by Kathy Kmonicek / AP Photo
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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