Pennsylvania’s Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem continues to break the precedent set by owner and operator Las Vegas Sands Corporation by embracing the latest in casino and gaming technology.

In the summer of 2016, Sands Bethlehem spent $5 million putting in a 150-seat stadium gaming installation. It began featuring baccarat and roulette. At the time, it was the largest installation of live electronic table games in the country.

The stadium gaming hybrid

Earlier this month, it got even bigger with the addition of live dealer blackjack stadium gaming.

Stadium gaming is reportedly popular in casinos in Asia. However, it remains relatively new in the United States.

The concept is a hybrid game. It combines the speed and ease of use of a slot machine with live table games. In fact, the stadium terminals appear similar to slot machines. However, each player uses their own machine to interact with live dealer table games. The live games are run the middle of a stadium-like set up filled with terminals.

The games can be viewed  on video at each terminal. The terminals are programmable and allow players to choose from several different languages.

Players use the terminals to place bets on the live table games. Stadium games often feature much lower limits than those available at traditional table games on the casino floor.

The stadium games also run much faster, with computers, rather than live dealer, collecting and paying off bets. The cash out process is also like that of a slot machine, with players hitting a button and receiving a voucher.

Live dealer blackjack stadium gaming

Sands Bethlehem’s new 44-seat live dealer blackjack stadium offering allows players to connect to two live blackjack tables at once. Players can bet on both games at once and a variety of side bets.

“Live Dealer Blackjack Stadium Gaming is an exciting new addition that offers players a customized and action-packed experience,” Sands Bethlehem president and hief operating officer Brian Carr said in a press release:

“With the ability to play two games at once and a $5 minimum, this offering will give our guests an exciting new way to play one of the world’s most popular casino games.”

Stadium gaming critics claim it’s simply a way to hook younger players who grew up with video games and computers.

Table game tax rates in Pennsylvania

While they are a slot and table game hybrid, stadium gaming installations in Pennsylvania are taxed at the same rate as table games. In Pennsylvania, slots are taxed at a rate of 54 percent, while the rate on table games is only 16 percent.

The reason for the difference in the tax rate is the larger number of employees required to run table games versus slots. However, stadium gaming requires far fewer employees per gambler than traditional table games.

Sands Bethlehem, which opened in May 2009, houses more than 3,000 slot machines and 200 table games. However, the property has long been the state’s table game revenue leader.

In fact, Sands Bethlehem reported more than $235 million in table game revenues for the fiscal year that ended in June 2017. This represented a three percent increase over the previous fiscal year and was tops in the Pennsylvania casino industry.

Breaking Sands’ technophobic traditions

Sands Bethlehem embracing the latest in land-based casino technology appears to be a bit of a break from Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s traditional technophobic policies.

Las Vegas Sands and founder Sheldon Adelson remain the largest opposition to online gambling in the United States. Adelson has spent millions backing efforts to pass federal legislation banning online gambling.

Plus, he has spoken out against online gambling, claiming sites cannot prevent underage, intoxicated, or out-of-state players from accessing them. The online gambling experience in New Jersey has proven these claims false.

Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire

Martin Derbyshire has spent more than a decade traveling the globe in his capacities as a reporter, editor, and video producer in the world of high stakes poker and gambling. He covers the industry for a variety of publications, including USPoker.com, PlayUSA.com, and PlayPA.com.