Over a year after the deal was announced, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has finally approved the sale of the $1.3 Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem to an affiliate of an Indian Tribe. The transaction which was announced on Wednesday, May 29 by Wind Creek Hospitality which is affiliated to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PCI) Gaming Authority – the PCI operated under the Wind Creek Hospitality brand and it will be paying the state a change-of-control fee of a whopping $3.73 million. Now that the state’s gaming control board has approved the sale and the transaction, the deal could close as early as tomorrow (Friday, May 31).
“We are pleased with the decision of PGCB and anticipate moving quickly to close the transaction. I look forward to welcoming all the Sands Bethlehem employees to the Wind Creek family,” Wind Creek chief executive officer Jay Dorris said.
Once the deal closes, the next move will be the transition of the property to Wind Creek Bethlehem. According to a 47-slide presentation that was shown to the gaming control board during the Wednesday hearing, Wind Creek has already set aside at least $15 million which will be used specifically for rebranding expenditures – these activities are expected to be complete in about 90 days.
What to Expect
Obviously, Wind Creek Hospitality has many other things planned for the property beyond the rebranding plans. One of the most notable plans that Wind Creek Hospitality has is the establishment of a hotel and meeting space – this particular expansion is set o take about two years and will cost the tribe approximately $90 million. The hotel is set to have up to 276 rooms while the meeting space will cover at least 42,000 square feet. Already, the property has a 282-room casino hotel as well as a 27,000-square-foot meeting space and therefore the expansion will only serve to complement the existing features.
Also in the pipeline are plans to transform Sands Bethlehem’s crumbling No. 2 Machine Shop into a 300,000-square-foot adventure and water park which will also include a 400-room hotel. This is expected to cost around $250 million – even though this seems quite costly, Wind Creek is convinced that the expansion will strengthen the property which currently boasts of up to a whopping 9 million visits per year.
The hotel expansion is being seen by the tribe as a way of unlocking a totally new revenue model and earnings potential. Wind Creek will be pursuing this goal by growing its food-and-beverage, lodging, and meeting space offerings in order to satisfy the growing demand in the region.