After renovation and rearrangement, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Lehigh Valley unveiled its new poker room last week. After a brief interruption for the move in mid-March the new space next to the Molten Lounge is now fully up and running with several upgrades for an improved player experience.
The Earl of Sandwich would not approve
The change is a sad one for poker players who also enjoy a good deli sandwich while they play. The new room has moved the poker tables away from the main casino floor and into the space previously used to house the satellite Carnegie Deli eatery at Sands Bethlehem. This was one of the final remaining Carnegie locations after its famous flagship restaurant closed at the beginning of last year.
The new 26 table room boasts an overall updated environment similar to the upgrades competitor Parx Casino added in its new poker room earlier this year, such as new tables with comfort features like a USB charging port for each seat, and a perimeter of nineteen 55-inch LCD televisions around the room. Typical amenities such as table-side dining and massage service of course continued to be offered as before.
While the new poker room has many features for a better poker experience, the move has actually less to do with poker at Sands Bethlehem and is more about other casino games. In transferring the poker tables into the old deli (losing its 27th table in the process) Sands is going to be able to backfill the previous poker space with additional table games, now permitted to go beyond the previously imposed limit of 250. The planned changes will allow the casino to add 14 more traditional banking tables, 29 more stadium gaming terminals, and 74 more slot machines.
This is a good trade for Sands, as it works out to a 7% increase to overall table game capacity in exchange for a single poker table that was rarely in use. The additional 2% increase in slot machines will also prove convenient for Sands’ $30,000 April Slot Tournament on Friday the 13th, and the $10,000 Super Slot Tournament on Monday the 23rd.
Recent poker revenues have already been steady at Sands, with February reporting no month-over-month change from January, which itself had a 5% drop from December, though both months still were still 1% above the six-month average.
Both months so far in 2018 also saw year-over drops from last winter, down 10% for January and 3% for February. This, however, is comparable to the 5% January and 4% February drops for Parx, which opened its new poker room mid-January. It should be noted that January of 2017 was an inordinately poor weather month.
Based on typical poker activity at Sands versus capacity and the results Parx has seen, it is unlikely the new room will affect poker revenues significantly but should improve player satisfaction. Beyond the quality of life upgrades, poker players will finally be isolated from the hollers of table game players and the dings of slot machines.
Table game revenues are more likely to be positively affected.
Sands’ poker tournament schedule will continue the same as before, with daily tournaments at the $75 to $300 dollar levels. Its Bad Beat Jackpot promotion is still running, with the current jackpot up over a whopping $350,000 at this time.