After Las Vegas Sands announced a $4 billion redevelopment of the in Nassau County, the casino and entertainment corporation has been working to receive one of the four available licenses for a casino development in downstate New York. At the same time, Sands’ competitor Hard Rock International has partnered with Steve Cohen, the owner of the iconic Mets, to propose an $8 billion casino development around the Mets’ Citi Field Stadium in Queens in an attempt to win a downstate casino license.
Sands Casino Proposal Facing Opposition from Hofstra University:
The proposed developments compete for a single downstate license in the neighboring counties therefore it is highly likely that one of the two license applicants will be considered redundant by the state licensing authorities. In addition, the Sands, looking to overhaul the former home of the New York Islanders hockey team in Uniondale at the Nassau Hub, have obtained support from local institutions like Long Island University and Nassau Community Colleges, but struggle with opposition primarily coming from the Hofstra University.
As Herald reports, Hofstra president Susan Poser argues that the Uniondale casino project would increase crime rate, gambling addictions, and traffic at the Nassau Hub. On the other hand, Poser reportedly fears that the project would affect the air quality and the overall quality of life in the greater Uniondale community. According to the source, such an attitude has incited a battle between the Nassau County and Hofstra University officials.
The same source reports that the battle seems to be heating up as County Executive Bruce Blakeman is allegedly accusing Hofstra president Susan Poser of colluding with a competing casino to undermine Las Vegas Sands’ development of the Nassau Colliseum in the Hub. As reported by Herald, Blakeman used a press conference held on January 17, 2024 to show the reporters an allegedly compromising email for Susan Poser. As reported, Poser was allegedly among the recipients of an email sent by Michael McKeon, who was reportedly described as a lobbyist for Hard Rock Cafe International.
Other recipients were Sean Caffery, Hard Rock senior vice president, and Michael Sullivan, allegedly connected with the Hard Rock International partner Steven Cohen, as Herald reports. Blakeman reportedly alleges that McKeon sent a link to a news story in his email to Caffery and Sullivan allegedly explaining that it “speaks to Sands’ efforts to control the site.” McKeon allegedly adds that he will be “checking with Hofstra to see if they will oppose this move,” as Herald reports.
Nassau County Claiming Hofstra and Hard Rock’s Collaboration:
Herald also reports: ”Blakeman believes that this email is evidence of Hofstra University and Hard Rock working together to hinder plans by Sands and the county for Uniondale, and instead open the door to an alternative casino as part of a proposed $8 billion project by Hard Rock and Cohen to build a casino near Citi Field in Queens, where the Mets play.” Blakeman reportedly commented: “I believe this is evidence of improper behavior, and I am very troubled by this. If they are against all of the things they claim to be against — and all of the concerns they had — they certainly weren’t concerned about students in Queens.”
According to the source, the Nassau County Planning Commission approved the land lease agreement with the Sands in April 2023. Hofstra, led by Poser, filed a lawsuit the same month and a New York State Supreme Court Judge ruled in November 2023 that the Nassau county violated state laws when closing the lease agreement. As reported, the county has filed a series of appeals and the Nassau legislation may likely have to repeat the process.
A university spokeswoman told the source: “Hofstra will respond to the Nassau County Legislature’s subpoena in compliance with applicable law. Hofstra, as a member of this community since 1935, opposes the casino siting at the Nassau Hub for multiple reasons that have been made clear in our public statements and court filings. This subpoena is just another spurious attempt to distract and impede a fair and open process regarding this transfer of Nassau County land.”
Hard Rock Denies Involvement:
Commenting on the Blakeman’s allegations, Hard Rock International reportedly stated: “Hard Rock has not had any communication whatsoever with Hofstra University or its president related to Nassau. We are committed to integrity, honesty and transparency in the (request for application) process for a downstate license in New York, and will not waver from that position. We made this clear to all of our vendors and partners, and will not tolerate any behavior that would counter that position.”
Poser is reportedly scheduled to appear before county leadership on January 22, 2024.