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Alabama-Based Poarch Band’s $1.3B Purchase of Pennsylvania Casino Approved

In a “landmark transaction” for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved the Tribe’s $1.3 billion acquisition of Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.

Wind Creek Hospitality, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians’ gaming authority, announced the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved its $1.3 billion acquisition of the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem on Thursday. Board approval of Las Vegas Sands Corp.’s sale to the Tribe followed a 14-month regulatory review and customary closing conditions, the Tribe said.

“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,” said Wind Creek President/CEO Jay Dorris.

Amenities at the Sands, a Las Vegas-style casino — which is about 80 miles from New York City and 97 from Empire City — include a 282-room AAA Four Diamond hotel, a 183,000 square foot casino floor featuring 3,000 slots and electronic table games, 200 table games, numerous food and beverage outlets, a 150,000 square foot retail mall, and a multi-purpose event center. “We are thankful for the strong foundation that Las Vegas Sands provided for us over the past decade,” Sands President and COO Brian Carr said. “It is exciting to now shift our focus to the future as we begin the process to rebrand the property to Wind Creek Bethlehem.”

WCH anticipates an immediate effort to expand the property to include construction of a 300-room hotel adjacent to the casino. WCH also plans to move forward with renovation of the existing No. 2 Machine Shop Bethlehem Steel site with ideas such as an adventure and water park that will include a 400 or so room hotel.

Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Chair and CEO, Stephanie Bryan remarked, “The purchase of the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is a valuable addition to the Tribe’s existing gaming portfolio. This investment will expand and complement our already extensive Wind Creek Hospitality (WCH) brand’s offerings, and bring added economic growth to the Lehigh Valley.”

The Pennsylvania acquisition adds one more casino to Wind Creek’s growing portfolio of 10 properties spanning Alabama, Nevada and Florida, as well as on the Caribbean Islands of Aruba and Curacao.

“Diversification of our business efforts across regions is an important part of our strategy and this acquisition will provide our product to customers who previously had little or no access [to it],” Dorris previously told Native Business.

The move into the Northeast with the Sands has the Tribe thinking about further expansion. “We believe there remains great potential with the property and will consider expansion possibilities when appropriate,” said Dorris, adding that a marketing possibility the Tribe sees is in giving Sands customers from the cold Northeast a chance to redeem their Wind Creek Rewards for stays in Wind Creek’s Caribbean resorts.

Pennsylvania is one of only four states that currently offer online play for money (the others are neighboring states New Jersey and Delaware, plus Nevada). “Online play for money is part of the gaming environment in Pennsylvania and it is likely that we will provide an online venue through which customers in Pennsylvania can play for money,” Dorris noted.

Wind Creek Hospitality’s other properties include Wind Creek Atmore, Wind Creek Wetumpka, and Wind Creek Montgomery in Alabama; Wa She Shu Casino in Nevada; Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino; and Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino; as well as racetracks in Alabama and Florida.

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