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Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem Resumes Construction on its
 300-room Hotel, Now Scheduled to Open in May of 2011

By Matt Birkbeck, The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

April 7, 2010 --Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem will resume work on its 300-room hotel in May, and the hotel will be open by May of 2011.

During a hearing today before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Sands Casino President Robert DeSalvio announced that work was schedule to resume to finish the hotel project that was halted when the economy soured in November of 2008.

His announcement came during a hearing in which the gaming board approved Sands' application to have its license renewed for another three years, and its application to add 89 tables games, such as blackjack, craps and roulette, this summer.

DeSalvio said work on the shopping mall and events center that was also halted in November of 2008, would have to wait.

"The market isn't there yet," DeSalvio said during the Gaming Control Board meeting in Harrisburg. "We have no commitments from retailers yet."

DeSalvio said Sands was willing to take on a partner to finish the mall and events center, but he reiterated that Sands has no plans to sells its Bethlehem casino.

"Our chairman (Sheldon Adelson) already said that those rumors were untrue," DeSalvio said. "We've heard nothing about it since then, so you can put that to bed."

DeSalvio said work in the shopping mall and events center that was also halted in November of 2008, would have to wait until the market improves.

The gaming board at the same meeting, was also scheduled to approve a request by Mount Airy Casino to add tables games to its Monroe County casino.

More than 100 students from Northampton Community College will be among the nearly 500 new employees Mount Airy Casino Resort will hire to support its table games expansion.

Mount Airy CEO George Toth said at a hearing today in Harrisburg that the NCC students will be hired as dealers to help man the 68 table games the casino plans to add this summer.

The students are the first to have entrolled in table games classes offered by the college at its Monroe County campus in Tannersville. A similar program at NCC's Bethlehem campus will train students to work at the Bethelehem Sands casino.

Toth said table games should bring a 30 percent increase in revenues for the struggling casino, whose revenues are last among casinos statewide.

"The Poconos is a tough market and a fairly depressed region and we don't have a population base surrounding us," said Toth. "We are a true destination resort."

Sitting behind Toth was Louis DeNaples, who gave up control of Mount Airy last year in a deal with Dauphin County prosecutors, who dropped perjury charges after charging him with lying to the gaming board about his mob ties.

DeNaples remains the guarantor of nearly $300 million in loans to J.P. Morgan Chase.

Toth said that debt was refinanced on Tuesday, and proclaimed Mount Airy "financially strong."

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Copyright (c) 2010, The Morning Call, Allentown, Pa.

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