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NY University That Blocked Las Vegas Sands Casino Accused of Colluding with Hard Rock

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In the latest chapter of the drama that surrounds New York's attempts at casino expansion, Nassau County is accusing Hofstra University of shady dealings with Hard Rock International to block a bid for a casino at the Nassau Coliseum. This accusation has escalated an already heated conflict between Hofstra and local officials who are eager to see a casino bring revenue to Long Island.

University Goes from Pawn to Queen

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman made the accusation on Wednesday, citing an email from a consultant to Steve Cohen, the hedge fund billionaire and owner of the New York Mets who is backing the Queens casino bid. The email suggested that the consultant would be communicating with Hofstra on behalf of Cohen's project.

Blakeman's accusation was accompanied by subpoenas the Nassau Legislature presented to Hofstra, which were served by the county sheriff's office. Hofstra has denied the allegations, and Hard Rock International, which is partnering with Cohen on the Queens bid, has also rejected the claim.

The dispute over the Nassau Coliseum casino bid has been ongoing for several years. Then, last April, Hofstra sued to block the bid, arguing that it would have a negative impact on the university's campus. It initially won, but the suit is still in limbo amid appeals and the new accusations.

The accusation of collusion with Cohen's bid has further inflamed the tensions between Hofstra and local officials. Blakeman has said that he will not drop the subpoenas until Hofstra provides "full disclosure" of its communications with Cohen's team. Both Hofstra and Hard Rock have denied all of the allegations.

The dispute has also raised questions about the integrity of the casino bidding process in New York State. The state has been criticized for its handling of the casino licensing process, which has been marred by delays and allegations of favoritism.

Staying Laser-Focused

Despite the challenges, Nassau County remains committed to its proposal, backed by a $5-billion Las Vegas Sands project. The property, which envisions a hotel and casino complex, is expected to generate significant revenue for local governments and businesses. However, the path to approval is far from smooth.

New York City bids, like Cohen's Queens bid, require a two-thirds majority vote from a committee comprising representatives from the mayor, governor, local state senators, Assembly members and local officials. Meanwhile, the Long Island bid will be reviewed and approved or rejected by a five-member panel with representatives from the governor, county executive, local Assembly member, state senator and town supervisor.

As the battle for a Long Island casino intensifies, the outcome remains uncertain. Hofstra's opposition and the complex approval process pose significant hurdles, but Nassau County remains determined to bring the project to fruition, citing the economic benefits it promises.

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