The Las Vegas Sands Corporation hopes that gambling regulators in New York believe the old saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Regardless of how inflation may have affected avian currency since the phrase became popular in the 17th century, (a bird in the hand might be worth about a dozen birds in the bush today), Las Vegas Sands has secured an important component of its bid for a New York casino license.
Despite a chilly public reaction, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has reached a preliminary agreement with the Las Vegas Sands Corp. for a lease of the Nassau Coliseum. Should the parties execute the lease, people in the county might similarly elevate their efforts to oppose the casino.
Las Vegas Sands close to finalizing Coliseum lease
With legislation to legalize New York online casinos on the shelf for 2023, the next major expansion of gambling in the state will be the introduction of brick-and-mortar Class III gaming facilities in the southern part of New York. Empire City in Yonkers and Resorts World New York City in Jamaica will likely receive two of the three licenses, allowing them to expand their gaming operations.
The third license will go to a party currently on the outside looking in, in terms of New York casinos. The Las Vegas Sands Corp. is just one of several entertainment companies vying for that privilege. On Wednesday, it got some good news along those lines.
According to multiple sources, Blakeman and the Las Vegas Sands Corp. have reached terms on a lease of the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. That facility would serve as ground zero for the Corporation’s proposed casino on Long Island.
The lease is still tentative, however. For starters, the county legislature must approve the terms. Blakeman’s agreement with the Las Vegas Sands Corp. is merely preliminary. Additionally, the Corporation needs to secure a license to construct and operate the casino from the state.
Failing any of those measures, the agreement between Blakeman and the Corporation will fade into thin air. That’s probably what many in Nassau County would prefer to see happen, too.
Strong community resistance to the Long Island casino proposal
If the Nassau Coliseum does become part of a casino, it won’t do so with raucous local support. Several entities in the county have expressed opposition. Private citizens have organized a Say No to the Casino Civic Association.
Additionally, the Garden City Village Board issued a proclamation opposing the Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s plans. Furthermore, nearby Hofstra University has been very vocal in opposition. That antinomy has included an open letter and a recent lawsuit against the county.
According to Tim Balk of the New York Daily News, Garden City Mayor Mary Carter Flanagan called the lease terms agreement disappointing. Carter Flanagan also vowed that the city would use all of its resources to fight the proposal.
Blakeman addressed some of the resistance in a press conference, Balk reports, stating that the casino would stabilize tax revenue without raising property taxes. Blakeman added that it would also mean “quality construction jobs” for the county.
While the Las Vegas Sands Corp. could take the negative sentiments head-on at some point, a more immediate focus is securing a license. The Coliseum lease is pivotal in that interest.
Coliseum lease could be a competitive advantage for New York casino bid
The opportunity to put a casino in the New York City metropolitan area is one of the most significant in United States gambling history. The city’s population alone, much less the tourist draw, makes it irreplaceable.
That’s why competition for a license is so fierce. It’s also the reason bidders like the Las Vegas Sands Corp. are endeavoring to have as many ducks in a row as possible. The lease is part of that effort. The margin between the companies that see their bids rewarded and those left out could be slim.
Having access to a proposed site or not could mean all the difference. That’s what the Corporation will secure if the Nassau County Legislature agrees. The lease could separate the Las Vegas Sands bid from others lacking such readiness.
The amount of time necessary to open the casino will be a factor in the decision. With access to the Coliseum secure, the Corporation could theoretically start construction very quickly after licensure.
It’s just one step toward presenting an impressive plan to regulators. However, it’s an essential step. Several more crucial hurdles remain ahead.