Las Vegas Sands Approved for 99-Year Lease Around Nassau Coliseum Site

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  • Las Vegas Sands has planned a $5 billion build on 72 acres of space
  • LV Sands still needs to receive a gaming license to offer casino games
  • There are three casino licenses up for grabs in New York, two of which are expected to go to local racetracks

Las Vegas Sands Approved for 99-Year Lease Around Nassau Coliseum Site

Nassau County, New York legislators voted Monday to approve a 99-year lease to Las Vegas Sands and a $5 billion build.

The project will see the completion of a casino, hotel, and entertainment venue on Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale’s 72 acres of space. The development will occur around the Coliseum, which is a multi-purpose arena that is situated just about seven miles east of Queens, a borough of New York City.

The vote passed 17-1 despite a recent outcry of concerns from local community members and activists. Las Vegas Sands still needs to receive a gaming license before it can offer casino games.

A new project

The new vote is another wrinkle in New York’s ongoing rush to erect new casinos and general gaming attractions, spurred by the race for three casino gaming licenses.

One of the biggest motivators for the redevelopment of the Nassau property is the ability to create an estimated 8,500 jobs and an additional $100 million in annual revenue.

"It's taking a property sitting there for more than four decades and giving it life, to make sure it's a generator of taxes," said Matthew Aracich, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

But despite the economic benefits, the project has received anything but universal support. On Sunday, a protest was held by dissenting locals and officials that said a new casino would only increase traffic and crime.

There’s also a philosophical debate about whether or not expanding casino offerings is what New York needs in the first place, especially given the casino arms race that is occurring in nearby NYC.

“That site should be redeveloped,” Westbury Mayor Peter I. Cavallaro said. “It's begging to be redeveloped. It should have been redeveloped a while ago. But a casino is the exact wrong thing to be putting at that site.”

Despite the negative outcry, Las Vegas Sands released a statement that said it was appreciative of the opportunity to add a world-class gaming facility to its resume and looks forward to working alongside and in the best interest of community members to develop an area they were proud of.

Gaming license arms race

Although there are three casino licenses up for grabs in New York, the expectation is that one will go to both Queens Racetrack Aqueduct and Yonkers Raceway since they already have slot machines on their campuses. That leaves just one license available for a bevy of suitors.

One suitor for the license is New York Mets owner Steve Cohen, who plans to build over land used as an overflow parking lot at the Mets stadium. His problem is that there are environmental standards that prevent him from building there, and he is actively seeking a resolution.

More potential landing spots for a new casino are in Hudson Yards, the roof of Saks Fifth Avenue, and Times Square. There have also been proposals for facilities in Hudson Yards, Coney Island, and other popular destinations in the Big Apple.

The New York State Gaming Commission is in charge of deciding who the license will be awarded to. Gov. Kathy Hochul is involved in the process but has been concerned with the economics of the projects and impending build as local businesses and workers continue to feel the impacts of the global pandemic.

There is no definitive timeline for a decision on where the casinos will go and which entities will receive the licenses, although there is an expectation that it will be made before the end of summer.

According to the New York State Gaming Commission's 2022 annual report, New York casinos collected roughly $2 billion in total commercial gaming revenue. That number is expected to soar in 2023 because of the gaming fever that legal sports betting has cultivated ever since it was legalized in January 2022.

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.