Wind Creek Bethlehem, Formerly Sands Bethlehem, Celebrates Grand Opening

Wind Creek Hospitality and PCI Gaming Authority of Alabama’s Poarch Band of Creek Indians celebrated Thursday the grand opening of the tribe’s tenth casino property – Wind Creek Bethlehem.

Wind Creek Hospitality acquired the hotel and casino complex this past spring in a deal that was first announced in the spring of 2018 when the property’s former owner, Las Vegas Sands, agreed to sell it for $1.3 billion.

Thursday’s festivities that included tribal dancers and a visit by tribal princesses marked the beginning of a new chapter in the development of what previously operated as Sands Bethlehem. The property first opened doors in May 2009 at the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant. The hotel and casino complex, which cost $800 million to build, was among the top performers in Pennsylvania’s casino market.

Wind Creek Bethlehem currently features a 183,000-square-foot casino with 3,000 slot machines and electronic table games and 200 table games, food and beverage facilities, a 150,000-square-foot shopping mall, and a multi-purpose event center. Property officials said Thursday that they were in active discussions with state regulators to add online gambling and sports betting to the casino's existing offering.

To celebrate the rebrand and grand opening of Wind Creek Bethlehem, Poarch Band of Creek Indians Chairwoman Stephanie Bryan welcomed elected Bethlehem and state officials and members of the host community. Activities included a ribbon-cutting ceremony and special gaming promotions for the property’s casino patrons.

Commenting on the newest addition to their casino portfolio and its rebrand, Wind Creek President and CEO Jay Dorris said Thursday that “our team has worked to preserve what makes the property a special part of the Bethlehem community while introducing the Wind Creek brand, our Wind Creek Rewards program and our focus towards guest service.”

Planned Expansion

Wind Creek Hospitality invested $15 million into the rebranding of its Bethlehem property. However, the company plans to spend even more on its expansion that is planned to take place in the coming years.

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Even before receiving regulatory approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to acquire the former Sands Bethlehem complex, Wind Creek Hospitality revealed plans to pour $90 million into a new 276-room hotel and add about 42,000 square feet of event space. Company officials said Thursday that they hope to break ground on the new hotel early next year.

The gaming and hospitality firm also plans to invest another $250 million into transforming the historic but now crumbling No. 2 Machine Shop near the main resort building into a 300,000-square-foot indoor adventure and water park and a 400- to 450-room hotel next to the park.

Mr. Dorris said that they are actively developing the adventure park and that a second study that aims to fine-tune its rides and amenities is currently underway. Wind Creek Hospitality has $100 million earmarked for the development of the indoor park and the third hotel and is actively looking for a partner that would provide the remaining $150 million. Mr. Dorris said that while they are yet to identify a partner, informal talks have been occurring since the announcement about the planned expansion at Wind Creek Bethlehem first emerged.

Sources: Wind Creek Bethlehem Celebrates Re-Branding,

At grand opening, Wind Creek pledges to reinvest in Bethlehem property. In fact, hotel construction could start in early 2020,

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