A crucial component of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s bid for a downstate New York casino license is in flux. Even though Sands’ interests have technically prevailed to this point, that could change. Also, the air of uncertainty around the project could be sufficient to doom it.
A state court has granted a request for a stay after the trial court in the matter voided its lease of the Nassau Coliseum. In order to stay competitive, Sands needs not only a positive final resolution but a swift one as well.
Las Vegas Sands roils community in planning Nassau Coliseum casino
Sands is the primary force behind one of 11 bids to secure a NY gaming license to operate a casino downstate. In January, Sands announced that its bid would focus on the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, more commonly known as the Nassau Coliseum.
The reception in the immediate area was quite cold. In March, Hofstra University issued an open letter opposing the project. Additionally, Garden City, New York’s village board also came out against the proposal.
Regardless, the necessary machinations moved forward with the Nassau County government in April. Hofstra took its opposition a step further as that process was ongoing, filing a lawsuit against the Nassau County Planning Commission among others. The complaint argued that the Commission did not follow proper procedure in its approval of lease terms for the Nassau Coliseum.
A few days after Hofstra filed that lawsuit, the county government executed a conditional lease with Sands. The full execution of the document depends on Sands actually securing a license from the state to operate its planned casino.
That’s where Hofstra’s lawsuit could meet its objective even if the Planning Commission wins the case.
Court allows lease to survive, for now
The first trial in the matter of Hofstra v. Nassau County Planning Commission et al went favorably for the plaintiff. A New York Supreme Court justice agreed with Hofstra’s argument that the Commission broke a state law by not giving sufficient notice of meetings to consider Sands’ proposals.
At the time, the Court ordered the vote to approve the lease terms nullified and the lease voided. Furthermore, the Court’s order contained a mandate for the Commission to perform a comprehensive environmental review of the proposal.
As expected, the Commission appealed and asked for a stay of the trial court’s order. The Court granted that stay on Friday pending the appellate court’s ruling on the case on its merits. According to News12 Long Island, the first hearing in the appeal will take place on Nov. 21.
News12 also reports that due to the stay, Sands is proceeding with its bid. The court could circumvent that process, however. Additionally, all the expense that Sands is taking on might prove for naught.
No license, no lease
The fluid situation around such a crucial component of Sands’ license bid could prove fatal. While there are technically three licenses to go around the 11 bids, two of those three are unofficially spoken for.
The expectation is that Empire City Casino in Yonkers and Resorts World New York City in Jamaica will each receive a license. That leaves the other nine bids vying for the third. State officials are weighing license bids on a point system.
Local support and speed to market are components of that point system. If local opposition continues to be raucous, that could at least harm perceptions of Sands’ bid. Additionally, if Sands has no lease for the Nassau Coliseum and is unable to secure a viable alternative site, that could make all the difference.
Hofstra’s lawsuit could achieve its desired end even if the courts ultimately rule in the Planning Commission’s favor. Sands needs the court to rule in the Commission’s favor and do so swiftly in order to improve the perception of its bid in regulators’ eyes. That will take time.