MGM Backs Out Of Sands Bethlehem; Proposed Bill A Factor?

[toc]This week, Pennsylvania’s Sands Bethlehem Casino revealed a potential sale to MGM Resorts International had fallen through. At least one local news outlet wonders whether proposed legislation in Pennsylvania may have caused MGM to shy away from inking a deal.

The Morning Call floated the bill theory based on what the publication was told by analysts.

“It remains unclear why the sale fell through, but analysts have said changes proposed by the state legislature could be enough to give a potential buyer pause,” wrote reporters Matt Assad and Nicole Radzievich.

Those legislative changes would greatly expand the state’s gambling laws to include DFS, plus airport and internet gambling. In this respect, PA would follow in the footsteps of its neighbor; NJ online gambling is a thriving, legal industry.

Juliano email said Sands Casino had a buyer

What’s unclear about this whole situation is how interested MGM was in the first place. The Morning Call reports Sands CEO Mark Juliano sent an email to employees telling them the casino had an interested buyer.

Because Sands is part of Las Vegas Sands Corp., it would’ve made sense for the parent company to come out with a statement on the supposed sale.

However, Las Vegas Sands never made an official comment about the situation, leaving us to wonder how legitimate the MGM sale really was.

Sands is a thriving revenue generator

The supposed buyout of Sands wasn’t really based on any red flags or failings. In fact, Sands is widely considered one of two heavyweights in the state of PA, along with Parx.

According to the 2016-17 fiscal year numbers from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Sands Bethlehem trails only Parx in revenue. The two casinos make up more than 20 percent of the slot revenue the state received in December 2016 from its 13 casinos.

Those same statistics show Sands was the leader in table game revenue as well, accounting for more than 25 percent of the state’s table games revenue in December 2016.

Sands is a poker powerhouse

Aside from being a top-tier revenue generator in slots and table games, Sands also has a reputation as the top poker destination in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Some experts have gone as far as to crown it the king of poker in the region, citing its facilities as a big reason why people flock to the Bethlehem property for No-Limit Hold ’em, Limit Hold ’em, Omaha 8 or Better, Pot-Limit Omaha, and other state-approved games.

Sands offers Las Vegas-style amenities that include comped drinks, massage services, and other perks, as well as nearby 24-hour restaurants and cafes.

Like the competing Hollywood Casino, Sands’ poker room has a bad-beat jackpot that, at the time of publishing, was north of $370,000.

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About the Author

J.R. Duren

A three-time winner of the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest, J.R. Duren works as a freelance writer with a focus on the NJ online gambling and online casino industry. He writes for a number of publications, including Bespoke Post, Our Amazing Norway, Barcelona Metropolitan, Snooth, and the Villages Daily Sun.