Nevada-based casino and resort giant Las Vegas Sands is reportedly eyeing Nassau County for a potential casino application in New York, according to local media. The firm’s interest in pursuing an opportunity in the Empire State follows a New York Gaming Facility Location Board vote on Tuesday that opened up the application process for three downstate NY casinos.
According to News 12, the firm has been eyeing possible locations to open a casino in Nassau County — a densely populated area of western Long Island that borders the borough of Queens — including the Nassau Hub. Another possible location mentioned was the UBS Arena/Belmont Park area in Elmont.
Las Vegas Sands said in a statement to News 12 that it applauded the State of New York for moving forward with the process of awarding the licenses, although it did not offer details on its plans. “We are excited for the opportunity to present an extremely competitive and compelling proposal,” a spokesperson said. “These new licenses represent the potential to generate thousands of good paying jobs and build an exciting new industry for the region’s economy.”
Participation in the New York bidding process would mark a major step in the firm’s expansion efforts for the US. While based in Las Vegas, the company currently has no domestic gaming properties. Instead, its Asian-facing properties portfolio consists of five integrated resorts in Macau, and Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.
Rumors of Sands exploring the possibility of opening a New York casino aren’t exactly new. The company has long been tied to the idea, including plans of developing a gaming property in Manhattan or Queens near Citi Field. But most recently, speculation has turned to Long Island.
“We don’t know where the location is at this point,” Las Vegas Sands senior vice president David A. Paterson, a former New York governor, told Newsday last month. “But I’m the one who suggested that they look at Long Island because of all the congestion in Manhattan.”
Nassau County would offer a solid opportunity to Sands, given its status as the second-most populous county in New York after New York City. A casino in Long Island would also benefit from the area being a short drive away from the Kennedy and LaGuardia airports.
“The most important thing about the location of a casino is proximity to the airports because a very high percentage of gamblers fly around the world and go to these casinos,” Paterson further told Newsday in December, referring to high rollers. “So, Long Island, particularly right at the edge [with Queens], you can get to the airport in 15 minutes sometimes.”
New York voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2013 to allow the state to grant full-gaming licenses for up to seven private casinos statewide. The first four were only allowed upstate, but now the chance opens for them to be built across the downstate region.
State officials released this week the criteria they will use to determine how the new casino licenses will be awarded and opened up the bidding process. The operators awarded licenses to run any of the New York City-area properties will have to pay the state at least a $500 million fee for the permits, according to the rules the New York Gaming Facility Board approved.
Applicants will be scored based on their potential economic activity, impact on the surrounding communities, workforce and responsible gaming plans, and their commitments to diversity. The economic impact factor will be the biggest priority, as it is 70% of an applicant’s score. The initial licenses will run from 10 years to 30 years based on the investment of the winning bidder.
A slate of proposals have already been announced by major gambling companies and developers. Among them is a $3 billion plan to build a casino resort at Brooklyn’s Coney Island, championed by Thor Equities, Legends, the Chickasaw Nation and Saratoga Casino Holdings; and a plan for a casino on the western half of Hudson Yards, proposed by Wynn Resorts and New York City real estate giant Related Companies.
For its part, Caesars Entertainment has partnered with real estate heavyweight SL Green on “a premiere entertainment and gaming destination” in the heart of Times Square. Meanwhile, Mets owner Steve Cohen is reportedly eyeing a casino near the team’s Citi Field in Willets Point, Queens.
The owners of the existing slots parlors at the Aqueduct race track in Ozone Park, Queens and Yonkers race track — Genting’s Resorts World and MGM’s Empire City — are also set to submit bids, which would expand their current offerings to include table games. The properties are believed to be solid candidates in the race, as the venues are established entities known to policymakers.