Residents Petition Against Sands Casino at Nassau Coliseum
A petition opposing the proposed Sands Casino at the site of Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has garnered more than 1,500 signatures.
Early this year, Las Vegas Sands announced a proposal to turn the Uniondale venue into a resort-like tourist destination that would include a casino. Residents from across Nassau County have formed a nonpartisan group called Say No to the Casino Civic Association, which is calling on the county legislature to reject the proposal.
“This casino will change the character of Nassau County and the surrounding neighborhoods and will lead to an increase in crime, traffic and noise pollution,” the change.org petition reads. “It will also put a strain on our local law enforcement and governments.”
In his State of the County address on March 1, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said that in order to approve the Sands casino proposal, “it must be world-class, with a luxury hotel and entertainment component; it must bring significant revenue to the county and surrounding areas, including construction and permanent jobs; and third, it must have the support of the community.”
Residents have raised concerns about the Sands casino bringing an increase in crimes, such as drunk driving and human trafficking, a decrease in home values, and impacts on air and water quality.
Jacqueline Ghosh, a Garden City resident who relocated from Reno, Nevada, says she has “seen first-hand how gambling can destroy lives and families” and that a casino nearby would have “given us pause” when moving to Nassau.
“In nursing school, the ER nurses called weekend night shifts the ‘gun and knife club,’ from the non-stop availability of gambling and alcohol,” she says of her time in Nevada. “Please do not let a casino into our community. However attractive Sands might make this deal seem, the house always wins.”
Other residents noted that they would like to see a different project built at the site. A big draw of the casino is the potential for union construction jobs and the jobs that a large resort would create long term. However, residents believe that the social ills of a casino would outweigh the economic benefits.
Deidre Benoit, of East Meadow, says she would rather see “something more worthwhile at the HUB, like a medical research facility, to further create cures rather than a blighted complex that creates poverty, prostitution, alcoholism, crime, drugs and gambling addiction.”
Residents also want to see Nassau focus on other issues that they do not believe a casino would solve.
“Nassau County has many needs; a Las Vegas-style casino is not one of them,” says George Krug, of Garden City. “We need housing and open community spaces. Instead, our county is eagerly embracing casino gambling and all the social ills that surround such places. Would Nassau residents really be proud to say, ‘What happens in Uniondale stays in Uniondale?’’
Las Vegas Sands has said that the development would include “outdoor community spaces, four and five-star hotel rooms, and a world-class live performance venue honoring the long legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum.”
Robert G. Goldstein, Sands chairman and CEO, says the project would provide thousands of union jobs in construction in operations.
“Our proposed project would be designed to produce tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for the local community on an annual basis, potentially offering property tax relief for residents,” he said. “The project would also provide a lift for local businesses through a robust procurement program and support a broad range of community organizations and causes.”