On Monday, May 22, the Nassau County Legislature is likely to vote in favor of handing over the lease of the 70+ acre Nassau Coliseum site to Las Vegas Sands. This is a reckless and irresponsible move.
Since the LVS proposal was announced in January, the legislators have neglected to do any independent analyses of the revenue projections, and have not accounted for any of the real, quantifiable negative impacts that communities across Nassau County will surely face if the casino is built.
If the legislators had done even some quick back-of-the-envelope math, they would have identified several red flags right away.
LVS has promised the county about $60m in annual payments. That represents only 1.4% of Nassau County’s $3.8B budget. Why give LVS the keys to our county for a mere 1.4%?
Plus, research shows that when a casino moves in, property values decline by 3-10%; the county’s depressed property tax base will significantly offset, if not erase, LVS’ payments.
Erecting a $4 billion structure whose operations will strain our transportation infrastructure, expose residents to increases in crime and gambling addiction, and depress surrounding area property values, all for a mirage of a 1.4% bump, seems like a wildly inefficient idea.
And studies show that casinos actually impede economic growth in the communities they invade. Patrons are enticed to stay in the windowless, timeless casino until their tour bus leaves, or they empty their pockets, whichever comes first. When casinos move into communities similar to ours, they pull sales, and employees, from surrounding businesses, especially the small ones.
LVS is projecting an astronomical $2B in revenue per year from the casino. That translates into at least 20,000+ patrons per day, 365 days a year.
Our already strained infrastructure cannot handle that increase. Why should we all sit in even more traffic so LVS can rake in their billions?
To drive patrons in such astounding numbers to the casino, they will lure in the most vulnerable among us with an inundation of predatory marketing messages – messages that we, and our children, will be exposed to.
A lion’s share of LVS’ spoils will be squeezed from the pockets of Nassau residents who will gamble under the false hope of a big win. Some will develop gambling addictions – rates of gambling addictions rise in direct correlation to proximity to a casino.
The unions will enjoy short-term employment to build the casino if it’s approved. But, in 18-24 months of work, the unions will have built a $4 billion home for hundreds of slot machines that are designed and honed to be as addictive as possible.
Unions will be needed to build whatever we choose to put there, let’s champion a project that can generate revenue for the county while benefitting the community.
Long Island has a rich tradition of innovation and engineering. Charles Lindbergh took off on his trans-continental flight a stone’s throw from the HUB. The capsule that landed on the moon was designed and built a few miles down the road at Grumman. We can do better than a casino.
We can’t rely on the hope that the New York State Gaming Commission will choose not to award Sands one of the three casino licenses. We need to make our voices heard loud and clear that a casino is wrong for Nassau County.
Allison O’Brien Silva
Allison O’Brien Silva lives in Manhasset with her husband and three girls. She grew up in East Meadow, just across Hempstead Turnpike from the Nassau Coliseum. She is one of the organizers of the Say NO to the Casino Civic Association.