[toc]Right now, the space between the Sands Casino and the Lehigh River is a parking lot.
If recent plans submitted to the Bethlehem Department of Community and Economic Development have anything to say about it, that parking lot will be a nearly 100,000-square-foot table games room that will include a restaurant and dedicated poker rooms.
The Morning Call published its story last Thursday, but couldn’t get confirmation from the casino’s CEO Mark Juliano.
“Plans filed with the city show a multi-level, nearly 100,000-square-foot expansion on the north side of the casino, adding more than 35,570 square feet of gambling space,” reporters Matt Assad and Nicole Radzievich wrote.
Based on tax filings submitted by the casino in 2015, the paper estimates the project will cost the casino $40 million.
Expansion planned to include restaurants, 13 more tables
Plans revealed that the Sands wants to knock out the back wall of its existing gaming room to extend the facility into the aforementioned parking lot. In addition to added table games space, the expansion would include restaurants with seating for 215 customers.
Both Lehigh Valley Live and Scranton’s The Times-Tribune reported on the expansion, but were only able to provide details already included in The Morning Call’s piece.
According to all three papers, the Sands has 237 gaming tables. The state only allows 250 in one facility, so the Sands will have to apply to get those 13 remaining tables.
Expanded gambling latest development in busy year for Sands
While talk of debt and casino closures has plagued across-the-border competitor Atlantic City, the Sands has enjoyed a prosperous year in Bethlehem.
This past July, the casino debuted a stadium-style electronic table games room in which dozens of patrons could bet on one live table from their own individual terminals.
While the opening of the new “stadium” is a relatively progressive concept that has yet to take hold in the United States, it may become more popular if the Sands shows its stadium is as profitable as it is novel. The main benefit to the casino: Only one dealer has the table from which dozens of gamblers can wager.
Fewer casino employees and more electronic gambling terminals would serve to, in Juliano’s own words to the Pennsylvania Senate in June 2015, “undermine the intention of Pennsylvania’s gaming act.”
This led to one Pennsylvania casino asking whether Juliano is more concerned about the spirit of the gambling legislation or his own casino’s bottom line.
Local leaders seem to support gaming expansion
While the introduction of the electronic gambling stadium may have raised eyebrows within the Pennsylvania casino community, there is no doubt that the alleged expansion of the Sands will open up more jobs for the Bethlehem community.
Local leaders went on record to say that the expansion would be a good thing for Bethlehem and would benefit local business because it would attract even more visitors to the former steel town.
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