People began lining up at 3:30a.m. on Friday, May 22nd, in anticipation of the 9:00a.m. grand opening of the $743 Million Sands Casino. When the doors finally opened at 8:40, a full 20 minutes ahead of schedule, more than 500 people rushed in.
The first crowd through the doors was an older crowd, they entered the casino chanting “Here we go, Sands, here we go!”Some were there just to see the casino, others were there because they wanted to be a part of history, most were drawn there by thousands of slot machines currently residing where Bethlehem Steel had once stood.
The first person to arrive at 3:30a.m. was a retired iron worker.His goal was to be the first one in the door.The parking structure was not yet open, so he parked a mile away and walked back to the casino.Traffic was heavy outside the casino, with cars from New Jersey and Delaware mixing with the locals.
The new Sands is the largest casino in the state.It has two lounges, four restaurants, and 3,000 slot machines.40,000 people are expected to visit the casino during Memorial Day weekend.This will be a true test of the staff of 1,000 casino workers, and also of city workers in their attempt to prevent traffic backups.
During the first trial runs on May 18th and 20th, invited guests spent more than $3.2 million 15 hours.This fundraiser earned $118,000 for 15 local charities.
Sands Casino is the eighth casino built in Pennsylvania since 2004, when slot machine gambling was approved by legislators.