The next steps in Sands casino bid include approval from the town of Hempstead, an environmental review and a traffic impact study. Newsday's politics reporter Candice Ferrette discusses. Credit: Newsday

Nassau County legislators' vote to transfer the Coliseum property lease to Las Vegas Sands set the company on a path to its ultimate goal: strengthening its application for a state gaming license to build a casino resort with a luxury hotel, restaurants, retail and a convention center.

Here's a look at the road ahead and the requirements that Sands must meet at the local and state levels before the development can begin.

Sands will submit a land-use application to the Town of Hempstead, kicking off the state's environmental review process, commonly known as SEQR. This will include a formal scoping process, preparation of a draft environmental impact statement and a final one. 

A Sands representative said the company has begun gathering some of the information for the environmental review. Sands has studied about 35 intersections in the surrounding communities, in addition to water resources, community facilities and services, land use and zoning, socioeconomics, noise, historic and archaeological resources, utilities and energy. 

The town's environmental consultant will work with Sands' consultant on drafting an environmental impact statement, and a public hearing will be held to determine if it is complete. 

Zoning issues and a master plan for the development will be decided by the Hempstead town board. This process will include more public hearings, according to the town.

Current zoning does not permit a casino at the site. Sands also could need zoning changes related to height, setbacks and parking.

No town board members, nor Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, have taken a firm public stance on the project. Clavin and most members did not return calls seeking comment.

Hempstead council member Dorothy Goosby said the town is looking at air quality concerns. Sands will need to submit studies on air quality, along with analysis of traffic and water usage, according to the town.

“I don't see anything wrong with [the casino resort], as long as we do the right thing by the community … and we go through the proper procedure," Goosby said.

Town spokesman Greg Blower said parking and "the overall suburban character of local communities" will be reviewed. Sands also would need to secure building permits.

At the state level, Sands would need to submit an application for a gaming license. Sands representatives say the company will do so when the Gaming Facility Location Board establishes the time frame for submission. As of now, the state has not yet set a deadline to the RFP it issued in January.

Beyond the town approvals, Sands would need support from a local five-member community advisory committee and a state site selection panel in order to win a gaming license.

Brian O'Dwyer, chairman of the state's Racing and Gaming Commission, has said the entire process "could go into 2024 or even 2025" before the licenses are awarded.

Sands, Nassau County and Nick Mastroianni II, the Florida developer who previously held the Coliseum lease and helped finance its 2018 renovation, are required to close on the new agreement over the next 60 days.

Sands will pay Mastroianni an undisclosed amount that would cover the $100 million loan on the property and other outstanding debts. The full amount, which officials have said is substantial, has not been made public. County officials have declined to comment, citing a private deal between Sands and Mastroianni. 

Two days after the final signing, Sands is required to pay the county $54 million, which county officials said will go into Nassau's operating budget general fund. There are no restrictions on how the one-time payment can be used, and some legislators have said they would like to begin discussions.

An addendum to the lease provides $25 million for programs and projects in Uniondale, East Meadow and Hempstead, in addition to the community benefits program outlined initially. Half the sum, $12.5 million, will be available when Sands begins construction. 

As tenants, Sands will pay community benefits of $2 million annually. The company also will pay the county a $5 million security deposit, $5 million in annual rent and a $900,000 public safety fee, according to the lease. The payment doubles upon winning a state gaming license and building a casino.

Without a license, Sands would develop a mixed-use complex that includes a hotel, entertainment, retail, office space and possibly workforce housing, according to the lease.

About a dozen different projects were floated shortly after the state announced it would make three gaming licenses available in the downstate region. No formal applications have been submitted.

With control of the Coliseum property, Sands has an advantage over some of its potential competitors.

Sands and county officials said they believe the project's biggest competition is in Queens, where billionaire New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has proposed a casino and entertainment complex next to Citi Field.

Cohen needs access to nearby state-owned property for the plan to move forward, and state lawmakers have not approved it yet.

Casinos also have been proposed at Coney Island in Brooklyn, Times Square and Hudson Yards in Manhattan and in the Bronx.

CORRECTION: Sands will pay Nassau County a $900,000 public safety fee annually as tenants of the Coliseum property. The payment doubles upon winning a state gaming license. This figure was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

  

Nassau County legislators' vote to transfer the Coliseum property lease to Las Vegas Sands set the company on a path to its ultimate goal: strengthening its application for a state gaming license to build a casino resort with a luxury hotel, restaurants, retail and a convention center.

Here's a look at the road ahead and the requirements that Sands must meet at the local and state levels before the development can begin.

What are the next steps? 

Sands will submit a land-use application to the Town of Hempstead, kicking off the state's environmental review process, commonly known as SEQR. This will include a formal scoping process, preparation of a draft environmental impact statement and a final one. 

A Sands representative said the company has begun gathering some of the information for the environmental review. Sands has studied about 35 intersections in the surrounding communities, in addition to water resources, community facilities and services, land use and zoning, socioeconomics, noise, historic and archaeological resources, utilities and energy. 

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Las Vegas Sands, now in control of the Nassau Coliseum property, must meet requirements at the local and state levels before developing a casino resort there.
  • The project now goes to the Town of Hempstead, which will review environmental, traffic, air quality, water usage and zoning issues.
  • Sands also needs approval from a local community panel and a state site selection committee in its bid for a gaming license.

The town's environmental consultant will work with Sands' consultant on drafting an environmental impact statement, and a public hearing will be held to determine if it is complete. 

Zoning issues and a master plan for the development will be decided by the Hempstead town board. This process will include more public hearings, according to the town.

Current zoning does not permit a casino at the site. Sands also could need zoning changes related to height, setbacks and parking.

No town board members, nor Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, have taken a firm public stance on the project. Clavin and most members did not return calls seeking comment.

Hempstead council member Dorothy Goosby said the town is looking at air quality concerns. Sands will need to submit studies on air quality, along with analysis of traffic and water usage, according to the town.

“I don't see anything wrong with [the casino resort], as long as we do the right thing by the community … and we go through the proper procedure," Goosby said.

Town spokesman Greg Blower said parking and "the overall suburban character of local communities" will be reviewed. Sands also would need to secure building permits.

At the state level, Sands would need to submit an application for a gaming license. Sands representatives say the company will do so when the Gaming Facility Location Board establishes the time frame for submission. As of now, the state has not yet set a deadline to the RFP it issued in January.

Beyond the town approvals, Sands would need support from a local five-member community advisory committee and a state site selection panel in order to win a gaming license.

Brian O'Dwyer, chairman of the state's Racing and Gaming Commission, has said the entire process "could go into 2024 or even 2025" before the licenses are awarded.

What's the immediate economic impact? 

Sands, Nassau County and Nick Mastroianni II, the Florida developer who previously held the Coliseum lease and helped finance its 2018 renovation, are required to close on the new agreement over the next 60 days.

Sands will pay Mastroianni an undisclosed amount that would cover the $100 million loan on the property and other outstanding debts. The full amount, which officials have said is substantial, has not been made public. County officials have declined to comment, citing a private deal between Sands and Mastroianni. 

Two days after the final signing, Sands is required to pay the county $54 million, which county officials said will go into Nassau's operating budget general fund. There are no restrictions on how the one-time payment can be used, and some legislators have said they would like to begin discussions.

An addendum to the lease provides $25 million for programs and projects in Uniondale, East Meadow and Hempstead, in addition to the community benefits program outlined initially. Half the sum, $12.5 million, will be available when Sands begins construction. 

As tenants, Sands will pay community benefits of $2 million annually. The company also will pay the county a $5 million security deposit, $5 million in annual rent and a $900,000 public safety fee, according to the lease. The payment doubles upon winning a state gaming license and building a casino.

Without a license, Sands would develop a mixed-use complex that includes a hotel, entertainment, retail, office space and possibly workforce housing, according to the lease.

Where does Sands stand among the competition?

About a dozen different projects were floated shortly after the state announced it would make three gaming licenses available in the downstate region. No formal applications have been submitted.

With control of the Coliseum property, Sands has an advantage over some of its potential competitors.

Sands and county officials said they believe the project's biggest competition is in Queens, where billionaire New York Mets owner Steve Cohen has proposed a casino and entertainment complex next to Citi Field.

Cohen needs access to nearby state-owned property for the plan to move forward, and state lawmakers have not approved it yet.

Casinos also have been proposed at Coney Island in Brooklyn, Times Square and Hudson Yards in Manhattan and in the Bronx.

CORRECTION: Sands will pay Nassau County a $900,000 public safety fee annually as tenants of the Coliseum property. The payment doubles upon winning a state gaming license. This figure was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

  

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