After on May 29, 2019, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board signed off on the transfer ownership, the $1.3 billion purchase of Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has been finalized by PCI Gaming Authority D/B/A Wind Creek Hospitality, the gaming arm of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians.  

The upscale, Las Vegas-style casino resort, located in the Lehigh Valley region of eastern Pennsylvania will be rebranded as Wind Creek Bethlehem.

we hope that all team members want to continue their work here as part of the Wind Creek family

Current amenities:

In addition to the 183,000 square foot casino floor, amenities at the Pennsylvania property that is approximately 80 miles from New York City currently include a 282-key, including 28 suites, AAA four-diamond hotel, a 150,000 square foot retail mall, spa and salon, Kids Quest & Cyber Quest, over 12,000 square feet of meeting space, three bar/lounges and 10 food and beverage outlets. The casino floor offers about 3,000 slots and electronic table games,  including live dealer stadium gaming terminals, and more than 200 table games, including a 26-table Poker Room.

According to the official press release

Wind Creek Hospitality plans to invest some $340 million in updates and expansion of the property, which will include the construction of a hotel with 300 rooms to be located adjacent to the casino. And in an effort to attract families and non-gamers, the redevelopment of the No. 2 Machine Shop into a 400-450 room hotel (the property’s 3rd) and a 300,000 square foot indoor water and adventure park.

President and Chief Executive Officer for the principal gaming and hospitality enterprise of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians [Wind Creek Hospitality], James Dorris, said…

“One of the things that drew us to this property is the quality and experience of the service-minded employees. Each of the nine executives has accepted a multi-year contract with us and we hope that all team members want to continue their work here as part of the Wind Creek family. We will need them as we grow the offerings at Wind Creek Bethlehem. “

Existing holdings:

The purchase of the Pennsylvania casino resort is Alabama’s only federally recognized tribal entity’s largest property to date and adds to its portfolio which includes Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Atmore; Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Montgomery; and Wind Creek Casino & Hotel Wetumpka, all in Alabama. Additionally, Wind Creek owns the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino in the Caribbean, and the Wa She Shu Casino & Travel Plaza in Gardnerville, Nevada. The Atmore, Alabama-based company also operates a parimutuel facility in Mobile, Alabama; greyhound racing and poker in Pensacola, Florida; and a poker room in Gretna, Florida.

Past attempts:

The acquisition was first announced in March 2018, however, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation had reportedly been intermittently attempting to offload what is one of Pennsylvania’s most profitable casinos since 2013. It wasn’t the first attempt. In March 2017, the casino and resort company owned by Sheldon Adelson inked a deal that would have seen rival casino operator MGM Resorts International purchase the venue for around the same ($1.3 billion) price. The agreement, however, fell through as the bet would have come with considerable risk, considering the uncertain future of gambling in the Keystone State, with the possibility of New York City legalizing gaming in the near future.

According to an earlier report, Wind Creek has earmarked $15 million for rebranding in the first 90 days of ownership.

Other PA news:

In other news for the state of , approximately 8 months after Governor Tom Wolf signed a massive gambling expansion bill, online casinos will all launch on July 15. The launch will make the Commonwealth the fourth state with legal online poker and the fourth with statewide mobile sports betting.

The state’s Gaming Control Board also recently announced the iGaming Self-Exclusion Program, which will allow voluntary exclusion from the new iGaming activities for ‘sports wagering and casino-like games’ that will soon be available in the northeastern U.S. state for residents who would like to prevent themselves from gambling online.