There is a reason Sheldon Adelson is a billionaire. He can be a ruthless businessman. His company, Las Vegas Sands Corp., is proving that to be the case with its actions since selling Sands Bethlehem Casino for $1.3 billion.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians will soon be the owners of the Pennsylvania casino. The tribe’s company, Wind Creek Hospitality, took a big risk with the purchase. However, the property’s success and the chance to be a part of the PA online casino industry.
Now though, all that is in jeopardy. And Adelson and Sands are mostly to blame.
Sands lobbying for an NYC casino
Part of the reason Sands Bethlehem is one of the top-performing casinos in the state is its proximity to New York City. The Big Apple is just 86 miles away. That makes Sands Bethlehem just about the closest resort-style casino to the city.
Currently, there are no large casinos in the five boroughs. More than one casino company is trying to change that. Last week, representatives from both MGM and Sands met with New York lawmakers about an NYC casino project.
Adelson started the push for an NYC property late last year. In other words, once he sold his Pennsylvania casino, he began the push for a casino that would massively impact the customer traffic at that casino.
The NYC casino is far from a sure thing. Just six years ago, the state agreed to expand gambling with upstate commercial casinos.
All of those projects are financially floundering, so putting a casino in the city that would further negatively impact those properties is a tough sell. Especially when you consider that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position on gambling expansion is not to consider new projects that have a negative financial impact on existing ones.
Thank Adelson for the new Wire Act opinion, too
The attack on Sands Bethlehem isn’t just limited to pillaging its New York customer base. Adelson is also purportedly behind the new interpretation of the Wire Act released in January.
A longtime crusader against online gambling, Adelson certainly appreciates the new DOJ interpretation of the gambling law. The new view casts such a wide net that just about any type of gaming that involves an internet connection is at risk.
This means the online gaming industry Poarch Band of Creek Indians bought its way into is suddenly at risk. The good news for the group is that the delays the Wire Act is causing on launch dates actually helps them more than hurts them.
Because the Sands Bethlehem sale is not final, Wind Creek cannot really move forward on its online gambling plans. Sands representatives appeared in order to apply for the casino’s interactive licenses before the deadline. That is about all the progress they have made.
In the short term, the delay will shorten the window between when competitors launch and Sands Bethlehem launches online. However, the broader view is that the potential ramifications for the entire industry could be disastrous.
Wind Creek still moving forward with PA casino plans
Lehigh Valley Live recently reported on Wind Creek’s plans for the Bethlehem property. The deal includes the sale of the outlet mall, events center, and some of the historical steelworks.
Additionally, one of the first projects is a $190 million expansion that includes 300 new rooms. Another idea floating around is an indoor water park.
Wind Creek remains committed to making the property a success. But they can’t be happy that the current owners seem committed to making the new owner’s life as difficult as possible.