Published on: January 10, 2024 at 06:11 h.
Last updated on: 10 January 2024 at 06:11 h.
Groups that oppose Las Vegas Sands’ effort to build a casino-hotel at the site of the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York want the nearby city of Hempstead to stop an environmental review that could pave the way for the project.
Say No to the Casino, which has opposed the gaming project from the beginning, believes the environmental review should stop because the transfer of the Coliseum’s lease to the Sands from Nassau County was blocked last month by the New York Court of Appeals. This legal action was brought by Hofstra University – another vocal critic of the casino plan.
In November, the New York State Supreme Court invalidated the lease transfer, siding with Hofstra’s claims that the deal violated the state’s open meeting laws. But the court’s Appeals Division later stayed that decision. The college filed the lawsuit in April.
Say No to the Casino wants Hempstead to cancel two public comment sessions scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Long Island Marriott in Uniondale on the grounds that the review should not move forward following an appeals court decision last month.
Environmental review could be vital to Long Island casino project
Much of Hofstra’s argument against transferring the lease centers on the idea that Nassau County officials signed the deal with Sands in a behind-the-scenes manner with private citizens not allowed to comment on the matter.
The Hempstead hearings on January 18 clearly take a different approach, suggesting that casino stakeholders do not want to provide additional material to opponents.
Environmental reviews are essential for any new large-scale gaming project. In the case of Nassau County, the city of Hempstead recently announced it would lead the state Environmental Quality Review Act process for the casino project.
Hempstead believes the lease transfer to Sands is valid and there is documentation to support that claim, which may indicate the city has legal standing from which to move forward with the environmental study. City officials refute claims that the lease transfer was intentionally vague or intentionally hidden from residents.
The clock is ticking on the Long Island Casino plan
There are likely two factors related to Sands’ efforts to win one of three downstate casino permits. New York’s highest courts take years to hear environmental cases, and regulators there could grant the three casino licenses in the second half of this year.
Some industry observers believe the timeline is ambitious, but if it proves accurate, it could pose a problem for Sands County and Nassau because New York regulators may not be keen on the idea of granting a license to an operator that has a lawsuit pending in state courts. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blackman, a longtime supporter of the casino plan, said a delay could be costly.
“Delay is not an option because the risks are high and the potential loss of billions of dollars in construction and thousands of jobs is not an option,” he said in a statement provided to Reuters. Newsday.