Bethlehem casino gets name

May 18, 2008 6:21:21 AM PDT
The $800 million slots parlor to be built on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant will be named the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, reviving the Sands name for American gamblers.

Bethlehem's casino will be the only one in the U.S. using the Sands name, though there is one in China and another under construction in Singapore.

"This is a great opportunity to reintroduce the brand in the United States for gaming," casino president Robert DeSalvio said Friday. "All in one, we get a wonderful city, a great brand and a good locational identifier."

The famed Sands casino in Las Vegas, which opened in 1950 and was frequented by Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., was torn down to build The Venetian. The Sands in Atlantic City, N.J., was demolished last summer.

The name of the Bethlehem casino, which DeSalvio said was tested with 18 focus groups and an online survey, made Mayor John Callahan happy.

"We absolutely love it," Callahan said. "It calls out Bethlehem as a destination. From our standpoint, that's exciting."

Tony Hanna, the city's director of community and economic development, also liked it.

"Anytime anybody markets a product and uses the name Bethlehem - for years it was Bethlehem Steel - it I think certainly gives the city more recognition around the country and around the world," Hanna said.

But Esther Lee, a member of the anti-casino group Citizens for a Better Bethlehem, was displeased.

"We used to be known as the Christmas City. I don't like the sound of this at all," Lee said. "This will transform how we are viewed, and ultimately who we are."


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