Bethlehem's Sands bests Parx for June

Posted: August 01, 2013

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Sands Casino Resort smoked the competition in table-games revenue in June - generating nearly $17 million, nearly double the take of second-place finisher Parx in Bensalem.

But that wasn't the most notable milestone for the four-year-old Lehigh Valley casino. For the first time since it debuted in May 2009, Sands toppled perennial leader Parx in total gaming revenue.

Sands had total casino revenue from both slot machines and table games of $40.6 million in June, just edging out Parx's $40.1 million.

"That was huge. We just had our best quarter ever for both revenue and profit," Sands president Robert DeSalvio said Tuesday as he gave a tour of the kitchen of the Steelworks Buffet & Grill, to be one of 10 restaurants when it opens next Wednesday.

Constantly adding to its massive footprint on what used to be the Bethlehem Steel works has been the casino's strategy. Recent additions include a 302-room hotel, a brand-name outlet mall, and a spa.

The ramp-up of its poker room and table game offerings from 152 to 183 tables in 2012 has helped to drive revenue and traffic, DeSalvio said.

Sands has been No. 1 in table- games revenue among the dozen Pennsylvania casinos for the last 19 months - something not lost on Parx.

"We believe that the Sands' hotel helps itself with its table- games revenue," Parx spokesman Marc Oppenheimer said, "especially with business that comes from the New York metro area. We do not have plans to add a hotel to the Parx property. We will always be reviewing that decision, and it could change in the future."

Sands also competes with Atlantic City and Connecticut gambling halls for New York and North Jersey patrons, especially on tables.

"Sands is marketing very heavily into the New York City market, and continues to do well grabbing high-value customers who may have gone to either Atlantic City or the Connecticut casinos before," said gaming analyst John Kempf of RBC Capital Markets L.L.C. "Their location is a big advantage over the other two markets, although the hotel also helps.

"We have heard that they have a strong focus on the New York Asian market in Chinatown and Queens. There are plenty of billboards all around the city. Other Pennsylvania properties also market [in New York], but Sands has been more aggressive and successful."

The Asian clientele filled the casino's lobby Tuesday. The baccarat tables seemed a particular attraction.

Parx generated $9.1 million from 166 table games in June - just over half of Sands' take. SugarHouse (with 58 table games) and Harrah's Philadelphia (with 121 tables) finished third and fourth respectively, at $6.7 million and $6.3 million.

"I come here for the [table] action," said Leroy Bruch, 48, of Bethlehem, who visits twice a week. He was planted at a Texas hold-'em table.

DeSalvio said the casino's success has to do with having everything on site.

"I believe the reason is our integrated resort strategy," he said. "Customers come here for the complete experience. We have it all."

Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2855,, or on Twitter @SuzParmley.

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