On May 29, 2019, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a Change of Control petition for the sale of Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort. Two days later, on May 31, 2019, Wind Creek Hospitality officially acquired the casino from Las Vegas Sands Corporation for $1.3 billion, as the transaction closed on Friday. The casino resort facility, which is located in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, will operate as Wind Creek Bethlehem, and will include amenities such as a 282-room AAA Four Diamond hotel, a 183,000 square foot casino floor featuring slots, table games, and electronic table games, numerous food and beverage outlets, a retail mail, and a multi-purpose event center.
The closing of the transaction comes after approximately fourteen months of regulatory review and, most recently, the PGCB’s approval of the transaction. Duane Morris represented Las Vegas Sands in the transaction, providing gaming regulatory and real estate guidance and assistance in other areas, including serving as co-counsel before the Board for Wind Creek Hospitality. Duane Morris attorneys who assisted on this matter include J. Scott Kramer, Greg Duffy, Frank DiGiacomo, Chris Soriano, and Adam Berger.
On May 29, 2019, at a special hearing convened for this purpose, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a Change of Control Petition authorizing the transfer of the entirety of Las Vegas Sands Corporation’s interest in Sands Bethworks Gaming LLC’s to Wind Creek Hospitality, an instrumentality of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The Board’s Order, beyond approving the change in control, allows the casino facility to change its name to Wind Creek Bethlehem, reflecting the casino’s new ownership.
Subject to the Board’s conditions, Wind Creek Hospitality is able to acquire all of the interest in Sands, including its licenses, which include a Category 2 License, a Table Games Certificate, and Interactive Gaming Certificates. The Board’s decision comes after over a year of regulatory review.
Scott Kramer, Duane Morris, appeared for joint petitioner, Sands Bethworks Gaming LLC. Also, Duane Morris served as co-counsel before the Board for Wind Creek Hospitality.
Last week, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Judge Jeffrey Schmehl, granted the Motions to Dismiss of Sands Bethlehem Casino Resort and other Pennsylvania casinos, which were alleged to have engaged in a retaliatory boycott impacting a mixed martial arts (MMA) promoter’s events. Sands Bethlehem was alleged to have engaged in a boycott of plaintiff’s events as a retaliation for a prior lawsuit promoter Ryan Kerwin filed against Valley Forge Casino and Harrah’s in Chester, Pennsylvania.
Sands, Parx and Sugarhouse Casinos and their respective event directors faced allegations that certain emails cited in the Complaint established a conspiracy. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants’ “horizontal group boycott” would put the plaintiff promoter out-of-business. The Court found the emails, at best, demonstrated nothing more than unilateral action by the individual casinos. There was no “plus factor” in the complaint’s allegation that would have shown a motive, actions that were against the individual casinos’ economic interests or, evidence that implied a traditional conspiracy. In the Sands instance, it was alleged that Sands actually emailed with plaintiff offering to contract for MMA events but plaintiff would not agree to Sands’ “inflated terms”.
Judge Schmehl found that nowhere in the Amended Complaint did there appear evidence of “a conspiracy that supports an inference of collusion.” The Court’s holding that plaintiff failed to plead an unlawful agreement precluded an analysis of the other elements of the Section I Sherman Act claim.
The Court also dismissed claims that the defendant casinos (and Harrah’s and Valley Forge) were collective monopolists by keeping essential facilities from the MMA promoter. The plaintiff’s own pleadings that MMA events were staged elsewhere in Pennsylvania, other than the casinos’ event centers, convinced the Court that defendants’ properties were not “essential facilities”.
Sands was represented by Duane Morris lawyers – Manly Parks and Sarah O’Laughlin Kulik.
Monday morning Philadelphia Police culminated a several month investigation by raiding a South Philadelphia storefront and seizing 30-40 computers and equipment. Both myfoxphilly.com, http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/Internet_Sweepstakes_Cafe_Raid_South_Philadelphia_052112 and 6abc.com, http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/Internet_Sweepstakes_Cafe_Raid_South_Philadelphia_052112 reported on the law enforcement activity at the parlor suspected of housing an illegal online gambling operation. The location had been the recent subject of an article earlier this month in the national publication, The Daily, http://www.thedaily.com/page/2012/05/13/051312-biz-sweepstakes-cafes-kelley-1-4/ , GAMBLING ON A LOOPHOLE, which quoted Duane Morris’ J. Scott Kramer
Pennsylvania property owners received increased rebates this year toward their school tax bills as part of the Commonwealth program of using a share of gaming tax revenue to aid citizen’s property tax burden. The payments fulfill the promise of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Act to ”provide a significant source of new revenue to the Commonwealth to support property tax relief, wage tax reduction, economic development opportunities and other similar initiatives. 4 .P.S. 1102 Legislative Intent (2004). However, the signature intent behind Pennsylvania’s creation of a gaming industry, which is now second only to Nevada’s in casino revenue among the states, “to enhance live horse racing, breeding programs, entertainment and employment in this Commonwealth, has not proven as easily achieved. Successive administrations in Harrisburg have sought to lower the revenue originally intended for the benefit of Pennsylvania’s horse racing industry.
Continue reading Pennsylvania Gaming Returns 5th Year of Rebates to Property Owners; Horsemen Stiffed