[toc]In a surprising move, the president of one of the top-performing casinos in Pennsylvania announced he is stepping down.
Mark Juliano started as President of Sands Bethlehem in 2014. Three years later, he is moving on. The departure appears to be Juliano’s decision. It comes at a time when the casino is at the top of its game. However, the property is not without its turmoils.
Juliano’s tenure modernized Sands Bethlehem
Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s owner Sheldon Adelson put Juliano in charge of the Bethlehem property in 2014. Juliano’s hiring came shortly after Adelson announced he was no longer considering selling the property.
Sands Bethlehem has always been the black sheep of sorts of the Sands portfolio. While every other property is a destination resort, Sands Bethlehem is a casino that caters towards locals. It is decidedly not a vacation destination.
Nonetheless, Juliano found plenty of reasons for young gamblers to visit Sands Bethlehem. He brought in restaurants helmed by celebrity chefs. Additionally, he oversaw the installation of the country’s largest electronic table games stadium.
As a result of its profitable table games and increased attendance, Sands Bethlehem is one of the most profitable casinos in the state. It took in over $140 million in revenues in the first quarter of this year.
Resignation comes as a surprise for Bethlehem
With Sands Bethlehem thriving, Juliano’s departure is certainly surprising. Bethlehem Mayor Robert Donchez admitted to the Allentown Morning Call that the news was a shock to him. Roger Hudak, chairman of the South Side Task Force, echoed those sentiments.
“I thought he was doing a great job. His charge was to grow the business and he did that. I’m just not sure what’s going on over there anymore. I’m going to miss him.”
Brian Carr is the new president of the casino in the wake of Juliano’s exit. Carr previously served as senior vice president of finance and administration for the property.
What exactly is going on at Sands Bethlehem?
Granted, Juliano ran a profitable casino. However, Sands Bethlehem is not without its issues. Recently the casino has been all over the news for a variety of reasons.
First, it was because Juliano announced a $90 million expansion to the property. This was good news for the Bethlehem area, especially after Sands balked at the idea of voluntarily paying the controversial $10 million casino host fee.
In March, there were rumors abound that Sands Bethlehem was selling the property to MGM Resorts. While neither company ever confirmed the rumors, it seemed like a done deal. In fact, the casino even called off its expansion plans. At the time it seemed to be a signal the deal would happen.
Yet, just as suddenly as Juliano resigned, the deal fell apart. The prevailing opinion is the uncertainty about gambling expansion in Pennsylvania resulted in its collapse. While MGM Resorts is for online gambling, the notion of added competition in the form of video gambling terminals (VGTs) in bars and truck stops across the state may have given them cold feet.
After the deal died, Adelson and Sands Bethlehem launched a $1 million video campaign against the gambling expansion bill.
The gambling bill is still in limbo, awaiting a final compromise. Now it appears Sands Bethlehem is in a similar boat with a new crew at the helm.