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Sand Bethlehem's Slots Expansion to Be Place on Hold Due to Lower Machine Earnings

Even before the first dollar was placed into the slot machines at Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem in May 2009, casino operators were stating that they planned to add more two thousand slot machines in November 2009. Now that the facility has been open for 3 months, there is just one problem with that slots expansion plan: the existing three thousand slot machines are not earning enough.

Sands officials refused to comment on the revenues, but results do not lie. According to the revenues released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on August 17th, 2009, that in July 2009, Sands' take per day was $211 per slot machine. Gaming analysts states that the number places the casino closer to having too much machines than not enough machines.

Joseph S. Weinert, the senior vice president of New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group said that usually, below $200 means that you may want to see whether you have too many slot machines. He said that the ideal earnings for each slot machine is $250 to $300.

When Sands opened its $743 million casino on May 22nd, 2009, officials said that they planned to add two thousand slot machines as early as November 22nd, 2009. Under state gaming law, casinos can open with a maximum of three thousand slot machines but can apply to increase it to 5,000 slot machines after 6 months.

During the media tour before the opening of the casino, Sands Bethlehem President Robert DeSalvio pointed out to the huge, unused area of the casino floor where the new slot machines would be place. But with the current results, the slots expansion seems uncertain for November. Sands spokesperson Ron Reese said that they are not backing away from the slots expansion but they are reviewing the situation before making any decision.

DeSalvio said that the casino still plans to apply for slots expansion. Since its opening day, Sands has settled into being the 4th busiest casino facility in the state-behind two casinos near Philadelphia and one near in Pittsburgh-with earnings similar to those being earned at the smaller Hollywood Casino near Harrisburg.

Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson said that he is not disappointed with the revenue results in Bethlehem. He said that that he believes that with the continued marketing and solidifying its customer database, the casino is in the right track to be one of the most successful casinos in the state.

The casino's gross terminal revenue-which is all the money left in the slot machines after winners are paid-was a respectable $19.6 million in July and gaming experts like Weinert said that it takes 2 to 3 years for a casino facility to build a player base and improve its revenue potential.

Over the past 3 years, the state Gaming Control Board has approved applications for slots expansion. But they have been made by casino facilities that often have players waiting in line to play.

For example, the Meadows Casino outside of Pittsburgh was given permission to expand in March from 1,800 machines to more than 3,700 slot machines, but its slot machines were often earning more than $400 a day.


Tuesday, 08 September 2009
Marissa Patterson