No slowing Sands' casino expansion plans
Fresh off the continued success of its integrated resorts in Macau and Singapore, Sands took the next step in creating a similar development at its Bethlehem, Pa., property with the grand opening of a luxury hotel yesterday. The casino portion of Sands Bethlehem, which houses 3,000 slot machines and 123 table games, had opened in May 2009.
“When the casino opened two years ago, [Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO] Sheldon Adelson promised that if table games were eventually approved in Pennsylvania, we would build a hotel here,” said Robert DeSalvio, president of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, at the grand opening. “We are now fulfilling that commitment to create a destination casino resort in Bethlehem.”
The $30 million Sands Hotel includes 302 rooms, including six Presidential Suites and 16 Executive Suites, with the latest in modern amenities such as wireless Internet, media hubs and high-definition flat-screen televisions. The facility also includes an indoor pool, a fitness room and 5,000 square feet of flexible meeting space.
Sands Bethlehem site plans call for the opening of a retail mall and a convention center large enough to handle trade shows and other functions by February 2012.
“In the end, Sands Bethlehem will be a smaller version of the larger integrated resorts we have developed in Las Vegas and Asia,” said Michael Leven, president and COO of Las Vegas Sands. “This resort will be nice and comfortable, family-oriented not fancy-it will fit the atmosphere of Lehigh Valley.”
The development drivers for Sands Bethlehem remain its proximity to New York City and recent legislation that cleared the way for table games at Pennsylvania casinos. Prior to the table games, Sands Bethlehem generated $40 million in annual EBITDA, according to Leven. Since table games were added, EBITDA has climbed to $100 million per year. “We’re the closest casino to New York City that offers live table games,” Leven said. “We now get 37-40 buses per day full of people looking to play table games. Assuming there is no additional competition, we should be able to maintain a $100 million annual EBITDA.”
In addition to being monetarily successful, Sands Bethlehem has garnered unwavering support from the local community, thanks to the 1,800 jobs and the $6.7 million annual economic impact it has had on the city.
“The opening of this hotel is a real milestone for Bethlehem,” said Bethlehem Mayor John B. Callahan. “People said it would be impossible to redevelop the Bethlehem Steel, a 1,800 acre Brownfield site. Now we have a casino and the largest hotel in all of Lehigh Valley. Sands has shown great faith in us, committing to build through though economic times, making this impossible redevelopment possible.”
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands Corp. continues to be linked to potential casino resort development in Florida, Massachusetts and other emerging U.S. markets. More likely, however, is that the company will play off its successes in Singapore and Macau and pursue gaming opportunities in Asia. Indeed, earlier this week, Adelson let it be known Sands first preference for future casino development is Asia, and the company has its eye on gaming circumstances in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Adelson also mentioned Sands will go through with plans to build a “EuroVegas Strip” in Spain, and was exploring sites capable of handling upwards of twelve 3,000 room integrated resort properties near Madrid and Barcelona.