The bilevel mall, which is connected to the cavernous gaming floor and serves as a bridge to the Sands' new hotel, represents the next phase of expansion among Pennsylvania's gambling halls as they strive to look more and more like their Atlantic City rivals and offer shopping and entertainment.
Janice Woolley, 46, of Easton, and her mother, Kathy Svanda, 70, of Bethlehem, took their business to the new Coach Factory before lunchtime Thursday. Calling herself "a faithful Coach shopper," Woolley was sporting a Coach purse and shoes and was about to buy two new Coach handbags of the same style - a gold one for her, a pink one for her daughter.
"They're great," she said of the prices. Each bag had a regular retail price of $328 and was on sale for $99.
Quality brands at discounted prices are why the mall has been a draw, Sands president Robert DeSalvio said. The remaining stores - Van Heusen, Bass, Izod, Tommy Hilfiger, Dressbarn, Under Armour, and Art of Bread by Georges Perrier - are to open in the spring.
DeSalvio said the mall was part of the Sands' progression into a fully integrated resort destination, a signature of parent company Las Vegas Sands Corp., which owns similar casino resorts in Las Vegas, Macau, and Singapore.
"We've brought the whole package here," he said as he toured the new stores Thursday. "It's the same model we've used worldwide, and it's been a success."
The nearly three-year-old Sands Bethlehem operation - which sits on the former Bethlehem Steel site - added restaurants behind celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse in its first year. In July 2010, it added table games. Then came the 300-room hotel over last Memorial Day weekend.
DeSalvio said the casino planned to add 7,000 square feet of meeting space by March 1 for conventioneers and groups. A 2,250-seat events center will follow in May; it will hold its first concert act, Incubus, there on May 16.
Figures the state Gaming Control Board released Thursday showed Sands Bethlehem led the state last month in table-game revenue. With 135 tables, the Sands grossed about $10 million, while Parx's 184 tables took in $9.7 million. Harrah's Chester and SugarHouse finished third and fourth, respectively.
In January, the Sands was second in slots revenue, at $22.5 million, behind Parx.
Thus far, Las Vegas Sands has invested close to $1 billion in the Bethlehem property, the biggest among the 10 casinos currently open in Pennsylvania. (On Tuesday, Valley Forge Casino Resort announced that it would open March 31 as the state's 11th casino.)
Gaming analysts say the Sands' footprint - it occupies more than 100 acres - allows it to keep adding customer amenities. Though other Pennsylvania casinos, including Parx and Mohegan Sun, have retail shops, the Sands is the only one with a full-fledged mall.
"I think you will see this on a property-by-property basis," said analyst John Kempf of RBC Capital Markets Corp. "Not all Pennsylvania casinos have a footprint conducive to adding retail space" of this size.
January Table Games Revenue CasinoJan. 2012 TablesJan. 2012
Gross RevenueJan. 2011 TablesJan. 2011
Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem135$9,995,786100$7,090,822
Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack125$7,045,533122$5,616,750
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs84$4,299,66084$3,293,804
Mount Airy Casino Resort72$3,664,44980$2,969,761
Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course69$2,950,28058$3,022,143
The Meadows Racetrack and Casino78$2,548,06568$2,885,453
Presque Isle Downs and Casino53$1,307,98448$1,726,388
Source: Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
Contact staff writer Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2594 or email@example.com.