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Las Vegas Sands Loses Latest NY Casino Battle with Hofstra University

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In a significant loss to Las Vegas Sands, a state appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling invalidating a lease agreement between Nassau County and the casino operator for a proposed $4-billion casino resort project. This decision has dealt a major blow to the ambitious development plan, which faced legal challenges from Hofstra University, a major landowner in the area.

Back to Square One

The appeals court ruling, handed down on Wednesday, effectively halts the casino project for now. The court's decision prohibits Las Vegas Sands from exercising its rights to the county-owned property until the appeals process is complete.

The legal battle over the casino project began in April when Hofstra University filed a lawsuit against Nassau County, alleging that the county's approval of the lease agreement was riddled with procedural irregularities and a lack of transparency.

In November, State Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor ruled in favor of Hofstra, declaring the lease agreement invalid. Justice Kapoor found that the county Planning Commission had violated the state's Open Meetings Law by failing to adequately disclose the agenda for a meeting where the lease agreement was considered. Additionally, the court ruled that the county legislature had erred in forgoing an extensive environmental review and ordered the process to start anew.

Following Justice Kapoor's ruling, Nassau County appealed to the Appellate Division, Second Department, seeking to overturn the decision and maintain the lease agreement. The appeals court suspended the case before ultimately siding with Hofstra when it upheld the lower court's ruling this week.

This latest legal setback for Nassau County casts significant doubt on the future of the resort. The appeals court decision effectively puts the project on hold until the legal battle is resolved, potentially delaying the project for years.

Setback for Hempstead

The decision also has implications for the Town of Hempstead, the Long Island town where Las Vegas Sands is seeking to change the zoning regulations for the property to accommodate the casino resort. The appeals court ruling could influence the Town of Hempstead's decision on whether to approve the zoning change.

In a statement following the appeals court ruling, Hofstra University expressed satisfaction with the decision, reiterating its commitment to protecting the public's right to transparency and participation in land-use decisions.

The future of the project remains uncertain, with legal challenges and regulatory hurdles still to be overcome. The appeals court ruling may represent a significant setback for the project, but it remains to be seen whether it will ultimately be the final nail in the coffin for the development plans.

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