Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem customers surprised, disappointed to learn of sale discussions
Monday, March 01, 2010
By COLIN MCEVOY
BETHLEHEM Reports of Las Vegas Sands Corp.'s plans to sell its Bethlehem casino didn't stop customers from flocking to the slots parlor Sunday for some gaming and relaxation.
But while several customers expressed confidence a sale of the casino would not lead to closure, most were nevertheless surprised and disappointed by the news. }
"It's a shock," said Nancy Bartholomew, a Glendon resident who spent her 65th birthday at Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. "Even as bad as the economy is now, there's still a lot of people gambling here today."
The Express-Times reported Saturday that Las Vegas Sands wants to sell its South Side slots parlor because the company is disappointed in the facility's financial returns.
Las Vegas Sands is hoping to sell its Bethlehem facility before completing its partially finished hotel, mall and conference center, according to a person with direct knowledge of high-level discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Ron Bartholomew, Nancy's husband, feels Sands' current problems are a symptom of the recession and that the company would be better off holding onto the casino.
"Once the economy picks up, there's a lot of money in this, what with the casino, the mall, the hotel," said Ron Bartholomew, 64. "When the economy recovers, which it will, then it'll be a good thing for Sands."
Mike Davis, a 56-year-old Perkasie resident visiting the casino Sunday, said he thought the upcoming addition of table games and the construction of the new hotel would help Sands overcome its concerns.
"I think the hotel would help tremendously," Davis said. "This is really a daytrip for people. People like to come to see shows and entertainment and it's just not there yet."
Bethlehem City Council members have expressed disappointment over Sands' intentions to sell and said they would like an explanation regarding the company's future plans.
A Sands spokesman declined to discuss the potential for a sale Friday but said the company is hopeful for better financial returns from Bethlehem.
Davis questioned whether Sands could even find another buyer during such an economic climate. Others customers, however, disagreed.
"It's already built," said John Perez, 54, of Bethlehem Township, Pa. "Your biggest investment is building and that's done. Somebody will come in and undercut them and get it for a good price."
Nancy Bartholomew, determined not to let the news ruin her birthday, also expressed confidence that Sands would find another buyer if it continued to pursue a sale.
"I can't see them closing it down," she said. "I like the motif here, the Bethlehem Steel stuff, the brick walls. I don't want to see it going away."