Las Vegas Sands has taken a step forward in its efforts to secure one of three downstate New York casino licenses. New York’s Nassau County has now signed a preliminary 99-year lease agreement with the gaming and hospitality giant for the use of its 80-acre Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum site for the development of an integrated resort on Long Island.
In a news conference in New York on Wednesday, Sands Chairman and CEO Rob Goldstein and Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman explained that the agreement was the first step in Sands’ bid to apply for one of the downstate NY gaming licenses. Securing the Nassau Coliseum site will require approval of the 19-member Nassau County Legislature, which is scheduled to address the issue on May 22, reports Las Vegas Review-Journal.
The Nassau Coliseum, which was formerly home to the NHL’s New York Islanders, is a 16,000-seat arena. At the site, Sands intends to develop a $4 billion resort that would include outdoor community spaces, four- and five-star hotel rooms and a world-class live performance venue honoring the legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum.
"We are going to develop the Coliseum site with a world-class hotel, a world-class entertainment center, and that is going to be funded by a casino,” Blakeman said, as reported by the Long Island Herald. “We believe that that will bring jobs, economic prosperity, tax relief, and improved safety here in Nassau County.”
Sands has also said the resort will feature celebrity chef restaurants, experiential events and venues, and flexible meeting and convention space. Other amenities would also include casino gaming, set to represent less than 10% of the project’s square footage, a luxury day spa, swimming pool, and a variety of entertainment programming.
“Our company’s track record of driving significant economic benefits to the communities in which we operate and the meaningful relationships and partnerships we have created in each of those communities gives us a unique perspective on what it takes to develop transformative tourism destinations that positively impact the local community,” Goldstein said back in January.
Should the Nassau County Legislature approve the lease agreement, Sands would still need to bid for one of the state’s three licenses. Competition is expected to be fierce, with major Las Vegas- and Nevada-based companies in the race, including MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Wynn Resorts, and more.
Immediately following approval from the county legislature, Sands will start paying an annual rent of $5 million until they get their gaming license. If secured, then rent doubles to $10 million, and within 60 days of approval, the company will give the county an additional $54 million. If the casino opens, the county will be guaranteed $25 million in additional revenue each year, according to Blakeman.
While county officials have touted the project as a revenue driver for the region, many stakeholders have shown opposition to the development. Among them is Hofstra University, which is suing Nassau County over “a lack of transparency” surrounding the proposed casino, which would be located near its campus.