The PGCB sets May 29 date to review Sands Bethlehem sale; new owner unveils $340 million expansion project for the casino
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will finally review the sale of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem at a special meeting scheduled for May 29 in Harrisburg. The gambling regulator will conduct the required review of the deal more than a year after it was first announced.
It was in March 2018 when Las Vegas Sands announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to sell its smallest hotel and casino resort to Wind Creek Hospitality, the gaming and hospitality arm of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for $1.3 billion. The PGCB has so far been mum on the transaction, but the regulator’s approval is one of the conditions needed for its eventual closure.
Bethlehem officials hoped that the board would rule on the deal during its regular meeting on May 15, but those hopes were killed when regulators did not include the Sands Bethlehem in their agenda for Wednesday. However, PGCB’s Chairman David Barasch said at the start of the May 15 meeting that board members have set a May 29 date for a special meeting during which they will finally voice their opinions on the proposed transaction.
If the gambling regulator approves the deal on May 29, it could close by the end of June. However, local news outlet The Morning Call reported earlier this week that Wind Creek Hospitality getting the nod from the PGCB might not be a smooth sail. The company could be asked to present its plans on how it would handle increased competition in the Northeast gambling market and whether online gambling and sports betting is something it has considered to add at Sands Bethlehem once it takes over the property.
Wind Creek Hospitality Ups Planned Expansion Investment
Wind Creek Hospitality said earlier this year that it planned to invest $190 million into expanding Sands Bethlehem. That expansion project included the addition of a new $90 million hotel tower with 300 rooms and potentially the development of an indoor water park.
The company unveiled on Thursday an even more ambitious plan involving a $340 million revamp of the property and the addition of multiple new facilities to its existing offering. While the addition of a water park was previously just a floating idea, it now seems that Wind Creek Hospitality will add such an amenity.
The company has earmarked $250 million to convert the site of the No. 2 Machine Shop near the existing hotel and casino complex into a 300,000-square-foot adventure and water park. The park will also include several food and beverage facilities as well as retail space. About 105,000 square feet of the new complex’s floor area will be designated for water attractions.
Wind Creek Hospitality will also build a hotel with between 400 and 450 rooms at the water park. Plans for the $90-million, 300-room hotel are still in place.
Wind Creek Hospitality will rebrand Sands Bethlehem as Wind Creek Casino and Resort to reflect the change of ownership.
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