A proposed expansion of $100 million by Sands Bethlehem might have a green light now that a casino expansion referendum in New Jersey has failed.

Good news for PA casinos from NJ

Pennsylvania casinos stood to face increased competition if its neighbor to the east had approved a ballot measure on Tuesday.

The matter in front of voters? Whether to allow the state to offer up to two new casino licenses in the northern part of the state. To date, casino gaming only takes places within the city limits of Atlantic City.

But that measure was struck down handily by voters. In fact, the margin was so wide as to make it unlikely another attempt will be made any time in the near future.

Casinos in the eastern part of the state — especially Sands — can now officially breathe easier that they won’t have more competition in the region.

And that might mean additions to the Bethlehem casino.

What Sands is planning

A possible expansion in excess of $100 million has been waiting in the wings for Sands. But those plans had been on hold until the North Jersey referendum was resolved.

The Morning Call is reporting that Sands is going to move ahead with the expansion now that new casinos won’t be built in NJ:

“It’s going to be one step at a time, but they can now move forward,” said Roger Hudak, the longtime chairman of the South Side Task force, who regularly meets with Sands officials to discuss future plans. “With that vote out of the way, they’re ready to develop the rest of the property.”

What would the expansion include?

Here’s what the money would be spent for:

  • An expansion of 100,000 square feet would include a new poker room, restaurants and offices, The Morning Call reported. The existing poker room would make way for more space on the main casino floor.
  • A second hotel would be built.
  • A new convention center would also be constructed.

Is Sands waiting for anything else?

The North Jersey casino effort might not be the only matter in play, as far as whether Sands moves forward on the expansion.

Efforts to legalize PA online casinos via the legislature have been going on for much of the past year but are on hold right now.

However, there have also been rumors that Sands — which is against online gambling — has been using its possible expansion as leverage to stop progress on legislation.

Online gambling appears as if it will be considered again at some point in 2017, but will Sands move on the expansion before the legislature decides what to do with iGaming? We’ll find out if and when ground gets broken on the expansion.