The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem grossed the second highest slots revenue in the state last year. Better yet, it generated the most from table games and helped Pennsylvania surpass New Jersey as the second most-profitable state for gaming — trailing only Nevada.
Parent company Las Vegas Sands has invested about $850 million in the property since it officially rolled out its first pair of dice in mid-May 2009 on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant.
Since its opening, the casino has added a hotel, events center and outlet mall.
Robert DeSalvio has been at the helm of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem from the start.
He took a break from his high-stakes job to answer a lucky seven questions for Lehigh Valley Business.
Lehigh Valley Business: Congrats on your success to date. Has Sands Bethlehem and its non-casino properties met the expectations of company management?
Robert DeSalvio: The Sands Bethlehem has shown exciting growth since we first opened our doors in 2009. As we have continued to expand our offerings, such as our hotel in 2011, we’ve seen our highest occupancy to date at 65 percent this past quarter. The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem was a stellar success this holiday season, and the Sands Bethlehem Event Center has been ranked one of the Top 100 theater-sized venues in the world, according to Pollstar.
LVB: Why do you think your casino resort is doing better than the other Pa. casinos?
DeSalvio: The integrated resort model has been a proven success for our parent company, Las Vegas Sands Corp. The Sands Bethlehem is truly a destination; guests have the ability to stay at our hotel, play the slots or tables, dine at an Emeril Lagasse restaurant, shop at the outlets and see a big-name act in our event center. Our property caters not only to a gaming enthusiast, but for those seeking a fun night out or weekend getaway.
LVB: What kind of economic effect has the Sands had on the Lehigh Valley and surrounding areas?
DeSalvio: The Sands Bethlehem employs over 2,000 team members. The outlets, event center and three restaurants on property managed by a third party make up another 800 jobs.
We have been able to give employment opportunities to thousands during one of the worst economic challenges in history. We also have great partnerships with Northampton Community College via its Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival, ArtsQuest, Discover Lehigh Valley and the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
LVB: I know the Sands is part of a group seeking a convention center study. Are there any other non-casino endeavors in the cards that you can speak of?
DeSalvio: We continue to evaluate other retail options on the property.
LVB: The gaming industry has blossomed nationally – and globally – in recent years. To what do you attribute this expansion and do you fear oversaturation is imminent?
DeSalvio: With the spread of gaming options, the industry is providing alternate entertainment experiences. In any growing industry, there is always the risk of oversaturation. However, we operate in an area with 17.5 million people in a 75-mile radius.
LVB: How have the event center and retail shops fared since their introduction?
DeSalvio: The Outlets at Sands Bethlehem had an incredible holiday season. We currently have 21 stores operating with nine to be filled by the end of 2013.
The event center has been averaging an 80 percent occupancy for shows, and is about to celebrate its one-year anniversary. In addition, Vision Bar has been a great addition for those seeking an authentic nightclub experience.
LVB: Who would be your ultimate dream act for the events center and why?
DeSalvio: The Eagles. Their music genre crosses all ages, and their collection is one of the best of all time.
Compiled by John McGran