Battle Over Sands Casino Between Hofstra, Nassau County Continues

Long Island Press File Photo

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has continued to accuse Hofstra University President Susan Poser of stymying the development of the Las Vegas Sands Casino.

In January, Blakeman accused Poser of colluding with Florida-based Hard Rock Cafe Inc., in an effort to boost Hard Rock’s goal of opening a casino in Queens.

Given the limited number of state approvals for casino leases, it’s unlikely that casinos in both Nassau County and Queens would be approved.

Both Hofstra and Hard Rock categorically denied any kind of collusion. However, in a press conference on Thursday, Blakeman, accompanied by fellow politicians and pro-casino labor leaders, revealed screenshots of text messages which he claims were between Poser and Robert McBride. In these text messages, Poser purportedly wanted to help Steve Cohen, owner of the New York Mets, get a lease for Hard Rock’s proposed Citi Field-adjacent casino.

“The nickname for Hofstra is the Pride,” Blakeman, whose father and uncle both attended Hofstra, said. “There’s nothing to be proud about today in the administration of Hofstra University. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s shameful. They completely misled and lied to the public. What a poor lesson for the students of Hofstra University.”

Blakeman also accused Poser of patronizing her own student body, saying college students are old enough to make decisions on gambling.

“Las Vegas Sands is taking measures to make sure that there are programs and counseling for people who may have an addiction,” the county executive added. “The people who go to Hofstra University are young adults. They’re at the age where they can make their own choices, And we want them to make responsible choices. There’s all kinds of temptations out there, whether it be drugs, alcohol, or anything else. What the leadership, and Poser, is saying is that their students aren’t smart enough or mature enough to make good choices.”

Despite blasting Hofstra for allegedly aiding a rival casino, Blakeman contended that he does not feel threatened by the development of a casino in Queens, saying that the competition would be good for Nassau’s casino.

“It might be complementary to what we’re doing here,” Blakeman said. “And it provides choices. So we’re not against anybody’s application, and we’re not afraid of the competition.”

Ryan Stanton, executive director of the Long Island Federation of Labor AFL-CIO and a casino ally, asserted that a casino will keep Nassau afloat.

“The Long Island Association had issued a new report assessing that in the last five years, we’re losing roughly 1% of our population year over year,” Ferretti said. “Folks, we need jobs and careers, union careers that allow people to stay. The Sands Integrated Resort proposal delivers exactly that.”

The group called for Poser’s resignation as Blakeman has done previously.

Hofstra has seen its fair share of casino-related woes recently. In January, Blakeman subpoenaed Poser into appearing in front of Nassau legislators, although the court eventually struck it down. Additionally, former Gov. David Paterson, a Hofstra alumnus who now works for the Sands Casino, claimed to the New York Post that Hofstra blocked him from appearing on a panel as punishment for his working for Sands.

“The text messages shared by County Executive Blakeman reflect informal reactions to  press articles with Hofstra University’s consultant and confirm the lack of merit to the  Legislature’s ‘investigation,’” a spokesperson for Hofstra University told the Press. “Hofstra University continues to believe that the public has a right to participate in decision making about redevelopment plans for the Nassau Hub. If Nassau County wished to  embrace those principles, Nassau County would simply restart the process before the  Planning Commission and the Legislature, as ordered by the Court.”