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Nassau County Executive accuses Hofstra University, Queens Casino developers of collusion

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Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman has accused Hofstra University of collusion with Queens casino developers, specifically targeting a bid that jeopardizes Nassau County’s pursuit of one of three coveted casino licenses in the state.

The accusation, implicating prominent figures such as hedge fund magnate Steve Cohen and entertainment giant Hard Rock International, centers around an alleged coordinated effort to undermine Nassau County’s casino project in favor of a rival proposal near CitiField, the home of the New York Mets.

Blakeman, at a press conference, unveiled evidence of collusion, presenting an internal email from a lobbyist to Hard Rock and Steve Cohen’s team. The email disclosed a plan to consult Hofstra University on opposing the Nassau project, a move Blakeman contends violates the stringent guidelines of the casino licensing process, which prohibits collusion to stifle competition.

In response to these allegations, Nassau County officials have issued subpoenas to Hofstra University and its president, demanding correspondence records with Hard Rock, Steve Cohen, Cohen’s company, and their lobbyists. The president of Hofstra has been summoned to testify before the county legislature at an upcoming hearing on Monday.

This accusation adds a new layer to the ongoing conflict between Nassau County and Hofstra University, stemming from Hofstra’s opposition to the redevelopment of Nassau Coliseum into a gaming and entertainment complex. The university has previously voiced concerns over the societal impact of gambling on its students. The disagreement escalated last year when Hofstra legally challenged Nassau County’s agreement with Las Vegas Sands, a case that jeopardizes the proposed redevelopment. Nassau County has appealed the decision.

Hard Rock International, in response to the allegations, asserted that it has had no communication with Hofstra University and remains committed to integrity, honesty, and transparency in the licensing process. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Hofstra stated that the university would respond to the subpoena in compliance with the law, framing it as an attempt to distract from a fair and open process regarding the transfer of Nassau County land. As of now, there has been no comment from Steve Cohen or his representatives on the matter.

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