MGM Resorts International Eyes Sands Bethlehem Purchase In Pennsylvania

[toc]With the possibility of online gaming in Pennsylvania on the horizon, many casino companies are trying to figure out how to get into the Pennsylvania market. Not Sheldon Adelson and the Sands Corporation though. Rumor has it Adelson and company are looking to get out.

MGM Resorts potential Sands Bethlehem buyer

Reports on what could be a billion-dollar sale surfaced last week after employees at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania received an email informing them MGM Resorts International was looking into acquiring the property. Sands officials also informed the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board of the possible forthcoming sale.

MGM currently does not have a brick and mortar presence in Pennsylvania. The company has been establishing more of a portfolio on the East Coast though. The company recently opened the MGM National Harbor in Maryland and are aggressively pursuing opportunities in Massachusetts as well.

Representatives from both casino companies would not confirm the sale rumors. The Allentown Morning Call reports those close to the sale admit the deal is not finalized but that serious talks are taking place.

Online gambling factor in selling?

Sheldon Adelson is emphatically against online gaming. The state of Pennsylvania is seriously considering expanding regulated gambling online. With that in mind, it would make sense for Sands to unload the property knowing it will not be competing in that market.

MGM, on the other hand, is already seeking opportunities to enter the New Jersey online market. Pennsylvania would be the next logical step.

The property also makes more sense in the MGM portfolio. The Sands Corporation generally holds destination casinos in major cities like Las Vegas and Macau. Sands Bethlehem is the lone regional casino holding for the company.

Another factor for the sale could be the recent organization of Sands Bethlehem security guards. The 146-person group was the first to successfully unionize under Adelson’s tenure. The CEO has been vigilant and litigious about keeping organized labor out of his properties, but recently lost a years-long battle with the guards.

One important component of the union negotiations the property would not budge on is that if the property is sold, the union contract is not carried over to the new owners.

Sands Bethlehem key piece of PA casino economy

The property is one of the two highest-grossing casinos in the state with almost $250 million in gaming revenue last year. It is also one of the few casinos in Pennsylvania which also includes a large hotel, an events center, and an outlet mall.

This is not the first time the Sands Bethlehem had a potential buyer. In 2014, Carl Icahn, owner of the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, looked into purchasing the casino. The two parties failed to reach terms. After the sale fell through, Adelson publicly vowed to recommit company efforts to the Pennsylvania property.

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