by Michael J. Shapiro | March 09, 2018
Las Vegas Sands is selling its Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pa., to gaming company Wind Creek Hospitality, which is owned and run by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Wind Creek will pay $1.3 billion for the resort, which Sands first opened in 2009 on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant. The hotel was added in 2011, and the events center debuted the following year. The parties expect the deal to close later this year or in early 2019, as it is subject to review by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and other regulatory agencies, as well as other customary closing conditions.
 
Sands Casino Resort grossed more than $243 million in 2017 from table games alone, by far the most lucrative of the state's 12 casinos. The property accounted for roughly 27 percent of the statewide total in table-games revenue for the year. The Vegas-style resort in Lehigh Valley is about 80 miles from New York City and includes a 282-room hotel, a multi-purpose event center, numerous restaurants, a 150,000-square-foot mall and a 183,000-square-foot casino with 3,000 slots and 200 table games.
 
"Sands Bethlehem has become one of the leading regional entertainment and gaming destinations in the United States, and we are extremely proud of the positive contributions the property has made for Bethlehem, the Lehigh Valley and Eastern Pennsylvania," said Sheldon G. Adelson, Las Vegas Sands chairman and chief executive officer.  "We are pleased to have built a strong foundation that can be the basis for the property's future success and, more importantly, we are proud to have delivered on our promise of bringing thousands of good-paying jobs, generating significant economic impact and revitalizing a site of sentimental and historical importance."
 
Wind Creek will add the Bethlehem resort to a portfolio that already includes nine gaming and entertainment facilities in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Aruba and Curaçao. Three of the casino resorts are on the tribe's reservation lands in Alabama. The acquisition diversifies Wind Creek's holdings and provides access to a Northeast customer base. In turn, the Wind Creek Rewards program will provide those customers with access to gaming escapes in the Caribbean and Southeastern U.S.
 
"The addition of this fantastic team and property to our portfolio furthers our desire to secure a long and prosperous future for our tribe," said Stephanie Bryan, tribal chair and CEO of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. "We look forward to working with our new team members and the community to cement Wind Creek Bethlehem's position as the premier entertainment destination in the Northeast. We are proud of our ability to become valued partners with communities surrounding our Wind Creek Hospitality properties."
 
Sands Bethlehem president Brian Carr doesn't expect the transition to affect day-to-day operations and the customer experience at the resort. "We've become an important regional entertainment destination because of our commitment to our customers," said Carr. "That's not going to change, regardless of what the sign on the top of the building might read."