Sands’ Lease Agreement in New York Declared Invalid by Supreme Court

The 99-year lease agreement between Las Vegas Sands and Nassau County to develop a $4 billion casino complex at the Nassau Coliseum site has been invalidated by Supreme Court Judge Sarika Kapoor. This decision comes after Las Vegas Sands had already paid Nassau County $241 million on 27 October 2023. The judge ruled that the Nassau County government’s approval of the lease agreement was invalid due to the failure of officials to meet open meetings and environmental laws requirements prior to entering the deal. This means that the lease agreement is now null and void, and the issue has been brought back to start, leaving the Nassau County planning officials the option to start new hearings with the local legislature and vote again to have the proposal approved.

The case was brought to court by Hofstra University, whose campus is located in the immediate vicinity of the Nassau Coliseum facility. The university opposed the casino proposal, and the Supreme Court ruling represents a big victory for them. Hofstra University president Susan Poser expressed her appreciation for the court’s ruling and the granting of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in connection with several of the claims.

Hofstra University filed the lawsuit in April 2023, alleging the failure of Nassau county planning officials and legal representatives to provide sufficient information about public meetings and environmental reviews before the voting procedure. The court’s ruling has approved Hofstra’s allegations, with Poser emphasizing the public’s right to participate in decision-making about the current redevelopment plan for the Nassau Hub.

The decision has caused a stir in the casino development landscape, as Mets owner Steve Cohen revealed his bid to construct a $8 billion casino and entertainment complex in Queens. Several giant casino operators are competing for the last casino license for a casino development in the downtown New York City area, including Long Island, Queens, and the northern suburbs.

Judge Sarika Kapoor presented her opinion in a 32-page decision, stating that the respondents violated both the Open Meetings Law and SEQRA approving the lease transfer. Despite the ruling, Las Vegas Sands has stated that it will continue with their proposal for an integrated resort and entertainment center at the Nassau Hub, expressing gratitude for the response from the Long Island community and committing to continue their outreach efforts.