Nassau casino 'not a done deal,' gaming commissioner tells Newsday
The top state official overseeing New York's gaming industry on Tuesday said "a casino in Nassau is not a done deal," signaling a longer than expected timeline for awarding three licenses to open Las Vegas-style gambling casinos in the downstate region.
"We are at the beginning of a process that could take much longer than what people are saying and that could go into 2024 or even 2025," Brian O'Dwyer, chairman of the state's Racing and Gaming commission, told Newsday Associate Editor Joye Brown in a Newsday Live webinar.
He also said that of the 10 entities that have expressed interest in bidding for a license, each proposal would be considered equally and "nobody has an advantage or a disadvantage."
O'Dwyer's comments come as casino-resort company Las Vegas Sands and the administration of Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman negotiate terms of a lease for 72 acres of county-owned land in Uniondale, where Nassau Coliseum sits.
Sands in January formally announced its intention to spend up to $4 billion to build "an integrated resort" on the property.
The development would feature traditional card games such as poker and blackjack, along with slot machines and other electronic gaming; celebrity-chef restaurants; "experiential events and venues"; meeting and convention space, including ballrooms; and a day spa, swimming pool and health club.
Sands officials said "high-quality casino gaming" would take up less than 10% of the project’s total square footage. The casino project is dependent on securing a state gaming license.
The cost of obtaining a commercial gaming license would be $500 million. The application fee is $1 million.
The proposal also relies on a final lease agreement between the county and Sands.
The lease is slated for discussion by the Nassau County Planning Commission on Thursday, according to the commission's meeting agenda. The meeting is at 10 a.m. in the county legislative chambers in Mineola.
Neither Sands nor county officials would answer direct questions Tuesday about the status of the negotiations.
Sands vice president Ron Reese said in a statement: "We continue to collaborate with the project's stakeholders and the larger Long Island community on the proposal — and we look forward to submitting a final bid that addresses the needs as well as the aspirations of the local communities and region in the coming months."
In an email to Newsday, Blakeman spokesman Christopher Boyle said: "Negotiations are ongoing and each side is doing due diligence as to the potential rights and obligations of each party."
Blakeman, a Republican, said in his State of the County speech March 1 that the Sands proposal must "be world-class, with a luxury hotel and entertainment component," generate "significant revenue" for Nassau and surrounding communities and win community backing to move forward.
The Nassau County Legislature, where Republicans hold a 12-7 majority, would need to approve any new lease with Sands.
Before a final decision is made on the license, the proposal must be approved by a local five-member community advisory committee, the Town of Hempstead zoning board and a state site selection panel.
Newsday's Albany Bureau Chief Yancey Roy also participated in the Newsday Live webinar.