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$1.3B Sands Casino sale up for approval today

The Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem. (Photo by Christopher Holland) –

Sands Bethworks Gaming and PCI Gaming Authority go before state gaming regulators today in hopes of winning approval for the $1.3 billion sale of the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem.

PCI, which does business as Wind Creek Hospitality and is based in Alabama, plans to buy the casino, the event center, the outlet mall, a hotel and several other vacant buildings at Sands. Plans for the sale were announced in March of last year.

During a special meeting scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will consider a petition for change of control of the casino from Sands Bethworks to PCI and to issue a Category 2, stand-alone casino, license to PCI. Both are needed before the sale can be finalized.

If it goes ahead, the sale won’t just bring about a change in ownership. It also is likely to bring changes to the property itself.

Wind Creek previously announced plans to add 300 rooms to the 280 rooms in the property’s current hotel. It also said it plans to create an indoor adventure water park.

The former Bethlehem Steel Machine Shop No. 2, which is located near the casino would be turned into a spa with fitness center and a pool, as well as a five-bay lounge for meetings and ceremonies.

Officials with Wind Creek have said they would like to begin construction and renovation work as soon as the sale is finalized.

Alex Michaels, president and CEO of Discover Lehigh Valley, the tourism authority for Lehigh and Northampton Counties, said he is rooting for the sale.

“I think Wind Creek is going to be a tremendous asset and they will really jumpstart activity in this whole area and take it to the next level,” he said.

The Sands opened in May 2009 as a slots-only casino and added table games in 2010. The hotel opened in 2011.

Wind Creek said it intends to rename the casino Wind Creek Bethlehem.

Wind Creek operates six casinos, two tracks and poker rooms in Alabama, Florida, Nevada and the Caribbean.

Writer Stacy Wescoe has her finger on the pulse of the business community in the Greater Lehigh Valley and keeps you up-to-date with technology and trends, plus what coworkers and competitors are talking about around the water cooler — and on social media. She can be reached at stacyw@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 4104. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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