Sands Bethlehem With an Eye on Improvement

October 20, 2014

Say what you will about Sheldon Adelson and his misguided – some would say self-serving – grievances against online gambling, the Pennsylvania casino brandishing his company’s name is doing something right.

In terms of gross revenue, Sands Bethlehem is far and away Pennsylvania’s most successful casino, only rivaled by Northern Philly’s Parx.

Its diversified selection of table games regularly outperforms the market, exhibited by the $17.7 mm it took from casino patrons in August – the most grossed in one month by any PA casino, ever.

Thanks to its selective targeting of New York’s Asian communities, the Baccarat tables are so jammed that the casino might as well introduce poker style wait lists.

Its most popular restaurants tout the name of one of the world’s most brand identifiable chefs.

The poker games are soft, the graveyard shift dealers sharper than anyone could reasonably expect, and the comps…well, I’ve seen far worse.

Yes, as much as I hate to shoot praise towards any structure associated with old Sheldon, the casino mogul’s East Coast playground is in my estimation the single biggest reason why Atlantic City is rapidly sinking into the sand upon which it was built. And why? Because the Sands does it better.

So it really comes as little surprise that the now five year old casino is readying to secure its place among the East Coast’s heavyweights via a series of planned improvements.

Sands fourfold plan


The focal point of Sands PA’s vision of the future revolves around expansion. Part of the immediate plan is to reinvent the dilapidated No. 2 Machine Shop as a Bass Pro Shops.

So what’s a Bass Pro Shops? Well, apparently they sell all sorts of fishing products. That, and they’re quite popular among outdoorsmen. Doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a place that would attract slot junkets, but what do I know?

Still, even if Sands PA’s casino patrons never once step foot in the Bass Pro Shops, just the presence of the new structure will help to augment their perception of the casino and its outlying area.

Other expansion plans include the construction of a second hotel tower, effectively doubling the total number of available rooms up to 600, and a 75,000 square foot convention center attached to the Bass Pro Shops, capable of housing upwards of 500 people for special events.

The proposed enhancements are still pending approval by Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the city council, but should all go smoothly, expect the new facilities to open sometime in 2016.


The Sands Bethlehem lives and dies by its Asian Games. Unfortunately, a portion of the patrons bused in from New York’s Asian communities are exploiting the casino’s generosity by selling their $45 free play tickets and then loitering in the casino until the next bus comes.

So that would explain all the dudes sleeping at the Monopoly machines.

Casino patrons are fed up, and I for one could do without lurkers begging me for a red bird every time I win a hand at Pai Gow. In response the Sands has adapted a new policy whereby anyone selling their ticket is to be immediately evicted from the casino.

Furthermore, those who attempt to enter the casino carrying large bags will be denied entry.

Whether or not these seemingly harsh new policies will threaten the Sands profit margins is yet to be seen, but considering that the offenders rarely gamble, I can only see them benefiting the house.

If they’re actually strictly enforced, well that’s another story.


Television personality and world renowned chef Emeril Lagasse is known for his New Orleans style cuisine, not Italian food.

Thus, the decision has been made to replace his underperforming Italian Table with a Cajun-themed restaurant. Those hunkering for Italian needn’t worry however, as the Sands is supposedly bringing in a yet to be named Italian chef to start up a new restaurant.

In addition, Sands’ swanky Chinese restaurant Chopsticks is being partially converted into a noodle bar, supporting the popular theory that noodle bars are a mandatory fixture of US casinos.

Casino floor

Much of the chagrin of poker grinders, Sands has removed a section of its poker room. In its place, why more table games of course.

Among the new games are Criss Cross Poker (no clue what that is), and another 14 variations of BlackJack (that’s an exaggeration).

Via the reallocating of casino floor space, it appears that the Sands is ceding its unspoken war with Parx Casino for poker supremacy. Probably a smart move, considering Parx’s majestic poker room is housed in a separate building, touts bigger tournament guarantees, more tables, better food service, and supports an all around friendlier poker playing environment.

On a side note, the Sands also has a new President: 36-year casino vet Mark Juliano, who is fresh off a stint as chief casino officer at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

Welcome to the party Mark, now make sure to keep your boss preoccupied until online gambling is legalized in Pennsylvania.

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