Casino empire suddenly hinges on Bethlehem —

Current Affairs

Heh. The news that the town fathers in Bethlehem PA had decided the way to revitalize the southern part of the city by bringing in a Casino was a bit of a puzzler years ago. (I was in still priest in a parish in the city when the saga began.) Most of us thought that the project would be a minor one for the Sands, and they’d not really be committed in a major way to its success. Since the city government really wanted this to work, it looked like a collision between the city’s wants and company’s offerings was going to be inevitable.

But that was then, this is now:

“Thanks to a global recession and a decision by the Chinese government to limit people who can travel to Macau to gamble, suddenly the casino that lies in the shadows of the hulking blast furnaces on the south bank of the Lehigh River is as important to Sands as it is to the city that hosts it.

”It would have been inconceivable two years ago, but Bethlehem is now Sands’ best hope to avoid bankruptcy,” said Bill Lerner, a Wall Street analyst assigned by Deutsche Bank to follow Sands. ”It could literally be the factor that keeps Sands from violating its debt covenants. It’s that important.”

Sands’ big bet on Bethlehem comes at a time when some question the company’s model — gambling coupled with luxury hotel suites, malls and upscale restaurants — in a newly minted age of frugality spawned by plunging stock markets and high unemployment.”

Read the full article here.


Well the good news I suppose is that all eyes are going to be on the project now.

My friends still in Bethlehem tell me that there’s already been conflict between the developers and the residents of the area. (My old parish is within easy walking distance of the new Casino site.) And there’s been a great deal of concern about what sorts of folks might be attracted to the new facility when it does open.

But now maybe those concerns might lesson a bit? The company needs a win here, and that’s going to be hard to do if the local community decides to not play along once things start rolling.

Still, the idea of a Casino empire rolling the dice on its survival in the middle of America’s Christmas City, is pretty disconcerting.

I can’t wait to here if there’s any major difference to the traditional fall and winter activities as a result…

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. “Will be see,” as our Russian friends say. Sands seems pretty interested at this point to be on our good side, and have offered food, a portion of the “take” from their test days, and some part-time jobs for some of our Soup Kitchen guests. Our numbers for lunch (M-F) are up from about 120/day to 135. We don’t know if that’s the economy, the influx of part-time, minimum-wage workers, or both. Stay tuned for news from the Christmas City, and from Trinity Bethlehem. Please God I won’t be writing from the Atlantic City of Pennsylvania a few months from now!

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