Pennsylvania’s leader in table games is finally getting its new owner.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) officially approved the sale of Sands Bethlehem Casino to Wind Creek Hospitality, an affiliate of Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The $1.3 billion deal wrapped Friday, finalizing a process that began in March 2018.

Wind Creek’s rebranding and renovations begin immediately

The casino will be renamed Wind Creek Bethlehem. The new owners will invest $15 million in rebranding efforts, which will include changing out signs at the entrance, hotel, event center, and outlet mall.

According to Lehigh Valley Live, renovation efforts will go much further. Approximately $340 million will be spent to add another hotel tower with nearly 300 rooms and create an additional 42,000 square feet to the event center.

Water park planned to enhance tourism

The Wind Creek group is also hoping to build a 300,000-square-foot water and adventure park, along with a third 400-450 room hotel on the property.

In comments made to the PGCB, Wind Creek officials declared their desire to make the Bethlehem property the “No. 1 resort destination in the Northeast.”

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Ownership change should bring greater focus to the casino property

The sale of the Bethlehem Sands casino should also bring a healthy change of perspective. The Bethlehem casino will become just the 10th property owned by the Wind Creek group.

It is estimated that 20% of Wind Creek’s earnings will arrive via the Wind Creek Bethlehem. In contrast,  Sands Corporation has a much larger portfolio that includes international mega resorts.

Employees will stay on under new ownership

Employees at the Bethlehem casino, which has been open for more than a decade, will also be able to stay on with the new management team.

“One of the things that drew us to this property is the quality and experience of the service-minded employees,” Wind Creek Hospitality President and CEO James Dorris said in a press release Monday. “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.”

Wind Creek will look to build on Bethlehem’s gambling success

According to PennLive, Pennsylvania’s total casino revenue in 2018 was the highest total ever. Sands Bethlehem played a key role in that, finishing first in table games revenue and third in slot machine revenue among Pennsylvania’s casinos.

Now, the new owners will look to enhance those numbers. Many upgrades are planned for the property. Wind Creek Hospitality will also introduce its rewards program to its new customers. The Wind Creek Rewards program offers travel perks to its Caribbean resorts Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino, and Renaissance Curacao Resort and Casino.

With all that is planned for the property, the future for Wind Creek Bethlehem should be an exciting one.

Alicia Miller Karner, Bethlehem’s community and economic development director, may have said it best to the Morning Call.

“To have the sale in our rearview mirror allows us to really look forward to the development.”