Sands Bethlehem Officially Changes Name to Wind Creek Bethlehem to Reflect New Ownership

Posted on: July 17, 2019, 02:47h. 

Last updated on: July 17, 2019, 02:47h.

The Sands Bethlehem is now the Wind Creek Bethlehem, this week officially adopting the name of its new owner, Wind Creek Hospitality.

Wind Creek Bethlehem
The signs may have been up for some time, but the name-change became official this week. Will Wind Creek soon be jumping into the online gambling market that its previous owner found so distasteful? (Image: Wind Creek Hospitality)

Wind Creek is the business arm of the Alabama-based Poarch Creek Indians, which purchased the Pennsylvania property, along with its convention center, from former owners Las Vegas Sands for $1.3 billion, a deal that was finalized May 31.

Wind Creek owns casinos in Alabama, Florida, Nevada, Aruba, and Curacao and has vowed to invest a further $340 million improving the property. Phase 1 of the proposed development includes a new 300-room hotel tower to boost the casino’s existing 282 hotel rooms. A 42,000 square feet of additional convention space is also in the pipeline.

The property was built on the former Bethlehem Steel Works, once the center of steel production and shipbuilding in the US, and Wind Creek is also planning to transform the derelict No. 2 Machine Shop, adjacent to the casino, into a 300,000-square-foot water and theme park. An additional 400-room hotel development has been proposed for the theme park.

Nine Million Visitors

Wind Creek Bethlehem is the biggest of the tribe’s properties. For LVS, it was its smallest, and it never quite gelled with the Las Vegas-based company’s penchant for spectacular destination resorts.

Despite its profitability and proximity to New York, LVS was looking to sell its only US casino outside Las Vegas as far back as 2013 when Carl Icahn declared an interest but didn’t ultimately follow through.

In 2017, a sale to MGM Resorts was described as “imminent” by some sources, but they had apparently jumped the gun and the deal never materialized.

The casino rakes in more table game revenue than any other in the state and attracts nine million visitors every year.

The transaction frees up cash for LVS, which is eyeing a $3.3 billion expansion at its Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, the most profitable casino in the world.

Online Gambling on the Horizon

Wind Creek takes over at a time when there are new opportunities for operators in the Pennsylvania gambling market, in the form of sports betting and, as of this week, online casino gaming.

While LVS was virulently opposed to online gaming – chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson once said he would spend “whatever it takes” to wipe it off the earth – Wind Creek is expected to take full advantage.

But in order to grease the skids on the deal, LVS had to go through the humiliating process of applying for an $10 million online gaming license for the benefit of the owners-to-be. It told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board that it would not use the license if the deal did not go through.

The regulator has instructed Wind Creek to pay a $3.75 million changeover fee before it can start using the license.