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Las Vegas Sands To Buy Nassau Coliseum In Bid For Casino, Entertainment Resort

A rendering of the planned redevelopment of Nassau Coliseum into a casino and entertainment destination, being led by Las Vegas Sands and RXR Realty.

Las Vegas Sands has agreed to buy the long-term lease of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum — the largest arena on Long Island and longtime home of the NHL's New York Islanders — and hopes to develop a major casino on the site.

Sands, the firm founded by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, is launching a multibillion-dollar bid for one of three downstate casino licenses the state opened up for bidding this month. The planned development would include outdoor community spaces, four- and five-star hotel rooms and a live performance venue “honoring the long legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum” Las Vegas Sands announced in a release.

Long Island-based RXR Realty, which is the master developer of the site, will partner with the company on the project. The casino itself would take up just 10% of the project’s square footage, according to Las Vegas Sands.

"After nearly two decades of working to transform the Nassau Coliseum site, including countless hours meeting with thousands of community members, the message has been overwhelmingly clear that Long Islanders want a global renowned entertainment destination that creates well-paying jobs and new opportunities at the Nassau Hub," RXR CEO Scott Rechler said in a statement. "But the challenge for turning this vision into reality has always been the commercial viability of a site encumbered by a nearly obsolete half-century-old arena. The plan envisioned by Sands is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create the kind of world-renowned entertainment and hospitality destination that has been sought after by Long Islanders."

A rendering of the planned redevelopment of Nassau Coliseum into a casino and entertainment destination, being led by Las Vegas Sands and RXR Realty.

If the lease goes through, it would give the company control of 80 acres in Uniondale and would mean the coliseum would be home to the first Vegas-style casino on Long Island. There is already one gaming facility in Islandia that only has no live dealers, while the Shinnecock Indian Nation is building a casino, that also only allows slot machines, according to Long Island Press.

This month, New York state formally launched the application process for development groups, asking for bids with a license fee starting at $500M and a commitment of at least $500M of investment.

There are three downstate licenses on offer, which have generated a flurry of activity in the real estate and development world.

SL Green has teamed up with Caesars Entertainment to pitch the Times Square building that currently houses The Lion King musical as a future gaming destination. Thor Equities joined with Saratoga Casino Holdings, the Chickasaw Nation and Legends in the bid for a beachside casino on Coney Island. Related Cos., alongside Wynn Resorts, wants to build a casino on the undeveloped western half of Hudson Yards, and the Soloviev Group is pitching a casino and Ferris wheel on land it controls on Manhattan's East Side. 

Sands intends to develop a hospitality and entertainment complex without gaming if it doesn't win a license, Long Island Business News reported. It would purchase the lease from Nassau Live, an affiliate of lender US Immigration Fund, which took over the property from previous leaseholder Onexim Sports & Entertainment, according to LIBN.