The Sands Bethlehem casino has confirmed that it will proceed with a $90 million expansion plan that will involve adding a poker room, slot machines, two restaurants and table games. The expansion on the north side of the casino would create the largest gaming floor in the state and expand an already lucrative casino business outside of Las Vegas.
Sands chief executive officer Mark Juliano confirmed that construction work would begin in January 2017, once the project had been approved by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. In a statement, Juliano said “We are well above capacity, particularly on the weekend, and we know there are nights when people can’t find an open slot machine or a seat at a table they can afford. There’s a need to add space to handle the demand.”
The casino currently houses 3,000 slot machines and 237 table games and brings in around 9 million people each year. Now the Sands Bethlehem casino will look to get special approval from the gaming board because the 2004 gambling law set the gaming table limit at 250 tables. If the approval is granted, the Sands Bethlehem facility could end up with more than 300 gaming tables and an additional 380 slot machines. The two-storey, 100,000-square-foot addition on the north side of casino will make room for two restaurants – a noodle bar and probably a Cheesecake Factory.
A new poker room dedicated to high rollers would require 30 new tables, which would be moved from the center of the casino floor, thus freeing up prime space which will be filled with slot machines and card games. The casino recently made a decision to go after VIP players and as a result renovated the top floor of its hotel to install a dozen high-end suites and a private lounge where food and liquor are free for VIP players. As part of this move, 20 to 32 tables will be added to the Paiza lounge, a private gambling parlor reserved for high-rollers who often bet tens of thousands of dollars a hand.
Sands Bethlehem is taking a huge risk with its $90 million expansion. Ever since Pennsylvania made gambling legal, a number of casinos have appeared in Ohio, New York, Maryland Delaware, causing a plateau in statewide gambling revenues. Sands Bethlehem reported net revenues of $140 million in 2015 and is confident that the expansion project will help it boost overall revenue and continue to increase its market share in Pennsylvania.