Sands’ Nassau casino plan suffers another setback 

Judge voids lease for second time, jeopardizing gaming license

Court Again Voids Sands Casino Lease at Nassau Coliseum
Las Vegas Sands' Rob Goldstein and Nick Mastroianni II with the Nassau Coliseum (Getty, Nicholas Mastroianni)

Like coins at a slot machine, Nassau Coliseum leases keep slipping through the fingers of the Las Vegas Sands.

A state judge on Friday invalidated the company’s agreement with the venue’s previous leaseholder to operate the arena and its surrounding land, Newsday reported. Sands’ plan for a $4 billion development — including a casino — at the site was complicated by the ruling.

Initially, Nassau County seemed to be cruising along in its quest to have the state cite one of three downstate casinos at the Coliseum, which has been hurting since the Islanders moved out.

With nearly unanimous support from county legislators, Sands reached a $241 million agreement to buy the lease from Nassau Live Center LLC, a limited liability company operated by EB-5 king Nick Mastroianni II. The county owns the land.

But Hofstra University, which does not want a casino near its campus, sued, and state Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor agreed that the Nassau County Planning Commission violated the state’s Open Meetings Law in failing to properly notify the public of a meeting. While the county appeals that decision, it is trying another route to get the 99-year lease transferred.

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Friday’s ruling blocked that effort as well, for similar reasons. Between the legal case and environmental reviews, it could be many months before the casino plan has the clear path to fruition, which it likely needs to win a gaming license from the state. The state is unlikely to delay its process to accommodate a particular bid.

The 72-acre site by the arena is the largest undeveloped property in the county. The Sands says it would build a luxury hotel, entertainment center and housing component, regardless of whether it wins one of the three downstate gaming licenses.

After the first ruling against it, a spokesperson for Sands said the judge’s decision wouldn’t affect the company’s bid for a license or its chances of success. Officials from the company declined to comment to Newsday after the latest ruling.

Holden Walter-Warner

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