Nassau casino ‘not a foregone conclusion’, gaming commissioner tells Newsday

The top state official overseeing New York’s gaming industry said Tuesday that “a casino in Nassau is not a done deal,” signaling a longer-than-expected timeline for three licenses to be awarded 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 could take as long as 2024 or even 2025,” said Brian O’Dwyer, chairman of the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission. , to 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 “no one has an advantage or a disadvantage.”

O’Dwyer’s comments come as casino-resort company Las Vegas Sands and Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman negotiate the terms of a lease for 72 acres of county-owned land in Uniondale, where the Nassau Coliseum is located.

Sands formally announced in January its intention to spend up to $4 billion to build “an integrated resort” on the property.

The development includes traditional card games such as poker and blackjack, along with slot machines and other electronic games; restaurants with celebrity chefs; “experiential events and venues”; meeting and convention space, including ballrooms; and a day spa, swimming pool and health club.

Sands officials said “high-end casino games” would take up less than 10% of the project’s total square footage. The casino project is dependent on obtaining a gambling license from the state.

The cost of obtaining a commercial gambling license would be $500 million. The application fee is $1 million.

The proposal is also based on a final lease agreement between the county and Sands.

The lease is scheduled 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 on Tuesday about the status of the negotiations.

Sands Vice President Ron Reese said in a statement: “We continue to work with project stakeholders and the greater Long Island community on the proposal — and look forward to making a final offer that will needs as well as the ambitions of the local population.” communities and region in the coming months.”

In an email to Newsday, Blakeman spokesman Christopher Boyle said: “Negotiations are ongoing and each party is doing due diligence regarding each party’s potential rights and responsibilities.”

Blakeman, a Republican, said in his March 1 State of the County address that the Sands proposal must be “world-class, with an upscale hotel and entertainment component,” generate “significant revenue” for Nassau and surrounding communities and the gain community support. moving forward.

The Nassau County legislature, where Republicans hold a 12-to-7 majority, would have to approve any new lease with Sands.

Before a final permit decision is made, the proposal must be approved by a local five-member community advisory committee, the Town of Hempstead zoning board, and a state selection panel.

Yancey Roy, chief of Newsday’s Albany bureau, also participated in the Newsday Live webinar.

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