Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman on Wednesday in Mineola announced a new lease agreement with Las Vegas Sands that would give the casino-resort company control over the Nassau Coliseum property. NewsdayTV's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Anthony Florio; Photo Credit: The Sands Corp

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Las Vegas Sands CEO Robert Goldstein on Wednesday announced an agreement that would give the company control of the Coliseum property in Uniondale for the next 99 years — a key step toward developing a $4 billion casino resort in the heart of the county.

If the lease agreement is approved by the county legislature, Sands would pay the county a one-time sum of $54 million within the first 60 days, and $5 million in annual rent, regardless of whether anything is built on the property, officials said. Sands also would pay $900,000 for public safety in its first year of operating the property, Blakeman said.

If Sands secures a commercial gambling license from the state — a requirement for developing its proposed casino — the annual rent rises to $10 million and the public safety fee increases to $1.8 million.

Additional revenues to the county, the Town of Hempstead and surrounding communities would total $96.3 million annually, according to a summary of the lease provided to Newsday. If Sands doesn't win a license, the total revenues drop to $7.9 million.

Sands still would have to build a luxury hotel and entertainment center if it doesn't secure a license, Blakeman said, along with “a housing component attached to that project.”

Sands, a Las Vegas-based company that was a mainstay on the famed gambling strip for decades, said in January it intended to take over the lease of the 72-acre Nassau Hub and develop an “integrated resort” with a casino, hotel rooms, ballrooms and conference spaces, a live entertainment venue, restaurants and a health club and spa. 

The company is among a dozen vying for three gambling licenses available in the downstate region, which includes New York City, Long Island and Westchester. The licenses would allow casinos with Vegas-style table games such as poker, blackjack and roulette.

Blakeman on Wednesday urged support for the lease, calling it "the biggest deal in Nassau County." 

"This could become the highest grossing casino in the country," Blakeman said at a news conference in the county building in Mineola. "And I am very pleased that we are united with a quality organization like Las Vegas Sands."

Goldstein said Sands was committed long-term to Nassau and its residents. 

"We don't build second-tier product, we built first-tier product," Goldstein said. "What we do is build resorts we can be proud of … we're going to be here for a long time to get this thing done." 

The lease agreement moves first to the county’s planning commission, which meets Thursday. It would then advance to the county legislature's Rules and Finance committees, which meet May 8, before heading to the full legislature for final approval.

Since 2020, the lease has been held by Nick Mastroianni II, a Florida-based real estate developer who helped finance the 2018 renovation of the Coliseum. 

Blakeman has said he would support a “world-class” casino-resort on the property, if there is community support. Sands officials have reviewed several sites in New York for about a decade, they said, and contacted Blakeman soon after he defeated former County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, in November 2021. 

Republicans hold a 12-7 majority on the Nassau County Legislature. None of the legislators have taken a public stance on the project. 

Control of the Nassau-owned site is critical to Sands’ application for a state gambling license, officials have said.

The license application fee is $1 million; the state has not imposed a deadline, and no development team has formally applied for one. Once awarded, the cost of the license is $500 million.

Sands officials say “high-quality casino gaming” would take up less than 10% of the project’s total square footage.

Opponents of Sands' Nassau plans include Hofstra University and “Say No to the Casino,” a group of residents and the trustees of the Village of Garden City. They say the large-scale development would bring traffic, noise and light pollution while a casino would bring crime, drugs and prostitution. Hofstra officials sued Nassau County this month, alleging it violated open meetings laws in project discussions.

In a statement Wednesday, Hofstra spokeswoman Terry Coniglio said: "We look forward to seeing the newly negotiated lease and having the opportunity to participate in a proper public hearing and provide our views, along with other members of our community. The lease signing we saw today was ceremonial. It is up to the Nassau County Planning Commission and the Nassau County Legislature to decide whether to approve the transfer of this lease to Las Vegas Sands."

Supporters say the project could benefit local businesses, provide jobs and add to the county’s tax base.

Garry Johnson, chairman of economic development for the state's NAACP chapter, said he was "very pleased to be at the exciting announcement" about the lease. 

"We understand that investments in communities of color are paramount to mitigating historic and systemic disinvestment practices," Johnson said. 

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Las Vegas Sands CEO Robert Goldstein on Wednesday announced an agreement that would give the company control of the Coliseum property in Uniondale for the next 99 years — a key step toward developing a $4 billion casino resort in the heart of the county.

If the lease agreement is approved by the county legislature, Sands would pay the county a one-time sum of $54 million within the first 60 days, and $5 million in annual rent, regardless of whether anything is built on the property, officials said. Sands also would pay $900,000 for public safety in its first year of operating the property, Blakeman said.

If Sands secures a commercial gambling license from the state — a requirement for developing its proposed casino — the annual rent rises to $10 million and the public safety fee increases to $1.8 million.

Additional revenues to the county, the Town of Hempstead and surrounding communities would total $96.3 million annually, according to a summary of the lease provided to Newsday. If Sands doesn't win a license, the total revenues drop to $7.9 million.

What to know

  • Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Las Vegas Sands struck a lease agreement to give the company control of the Coliseum property in Uniondale for the next 99 years. It requires approval by the county legislature.
  • Sands would pay the county a one-time sum of $54 million and $5 million in annual rent, regardless of whether anything is built on the property. If Sands secures a commercial gaming license from the state, the annual rent rises to $10 million, and additional revenues to the county, Town of Hempstead and surrounding communities would total $96.3 million annually.

  • Sands needs a gaming license from the state to build its proposed $4 billion casino resort on the 72-acre site.

Sands still would have to build a luxury hotel and entertainment center if it doesn't secure a license, Blakeman said, along with “a housing component attached to that project.”

Sands, a Las Vegas-based company that was a mainstay on the famed gambling strip for decades, said in January it intended to take over the lease of the 72-acre Nassau Hub and develop an “integrated resort” with a casino, hotel rooms, ballrooms and conference spaces, a live entertainment venue, restaurants and a health club and spa. 

The company is among a dozen vying for three gambling licenses available in the downstate region, which includes New York City, Long Island and Westchester. The licenses would allow casinos with Vegas-style table games such as poker, blackjack and roulette.

Blakeman on Wednesday urged support for the lease, calling it "the biggest deal in Nassau County." 

"This could become the highest grossing casino in the country," Blakeman said at a news conference in the county building in Mineola. "And I am very pleased that we are united with a quality organization like Las Vegas Sands."

Goldstein said Sands was committed long-term to Nassau and its residents. 

"We don't build second-tier product, we built first-tier product," Goldstein said. "What we do is build resorts we can be proud of … we're going to be here for a long time to get this thing done." 

The lease agreement moves first to the county’s planning commission, which meets Thursday. It would then advance to the county legislature's Rules and Finance committees, which meet May 8, before heading to the full legislature for final approval.

Since 2020, the lease has been held by Nick Mastroianni II, a Florida-based real estate developer who helped finance the 2018 renovation of the Coliseum. 

Blakeman has said he would support a “world-class” casino-resort on the property, if there is community support. Sands officials have reviewed several sites in New York for about a decade, they said, and contacted Blakeman soon after he defeated former County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, in November 2021. 

Republicans hold a 12-7 majority on the Nassau County Legislature. None of the legislators have taken a public stance on the project. 

Control of the Nassau-owned site is critical to Sands’ application for a state gambling license, officials have said.

The license application fee is $1 million; the state has not imposed a deadline, and no development team has formally applied for one. Once awarded, the cost of the license is $500 million.

Sands officials say “high-quality casino gaming” would take up less than 10% of the project’s total square footage.

Opponents of Sands' Nassau plans include Hofstra University and “Say No to the Casino,” a group of residents and the trustees of the Village of Garden City. They say the large-scale development would bring traffic, noise and light pollution while a casino would bring crime, drugs and prostitution. Hofstra officials sued Nassau County this month, alleging it violated open meetings laws in project discussions.

In a statement Wednesday, Hofstra spokeswoman Terry Coniglio said: "We look forward to seeing the newly negotiated lease and having the opportunity to participate in a proper public hearing and provide our views, along with other members of our community. The lease signing we saw today was ceremonial. It is up to the Nassau County Planning Commission and the Nassau County Legislature to decide whether to approve the transfer of this lease to Las Vegas Sands."

Supporters say the project could benefit local businesses, provide jobs and add to the county’s tax base.

Garry Johnson, chairman of economic development for the state's NAACP chapter, said he was "very pleased to be at the exciting announcement" about the lease. 

"We understand that investments in communities of color are paramount to mitigating historic and systemic disinvestment practices," Johnson said. 

What happens next:

Sands’ lease needs approval from the Nassau County Legislature and the following committees:

Planning Commission, meets Thursday

Rules and Finance Committees, meet May 8

Nassau County Legislature, meets May 22

Sands also needs to clear these hurdles, with dates to be determined:

Local five-member community advisory committee

Town of Hempstead zoning board

State site selection panel

State gaming license

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