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Pennsylvania Gets Casino Games: Atlantic City's Death Knell?

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/23/2010
Pennsylvania Casino Games

Legal poker was played for the first time in the State of Pennsylvania this week as table games came to the state's casinos.

Also legal for the first time: roulette, blackjack, craps, baccarat, mini-baccarat, Big Six, pai gow, sic bo, three-card poker, three-card Texas hold 'em, let it ride, caribbean stud poker and even the childhood card game of war.

Up until now, the state's seven casinos only offered slot machines.

Gambling911.com was on hand at the Sands Casino and Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsyvlania, this week as table games were getting underway.

It was Wednesday afternoon and the casino, on the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Corp. steel-making plant, was packed.

Saturday night will be a zoo.

A dozen 10-person tables were full in the brand new poker room.

A 15-minute wait was average to get into a $1-$2 no-limit Texas hold 'em game.

Elsewhere on the floor, craps tables buzzed, roulette wheels spun and blackjacks were recorded.

Forty table game tables were set up and most were in use.

Bizarrely, the casino had a heavy New York City feel, even though the Big Apple is 75 miles away.

Bethlehem, it turns out, has the closest full-scale casino to the nation's largest city, so New Yorkers were in abundance.

The casino is also running a daily bus from Chinatown in New York to the casino, and there's now an Asian tea room at the Sands for the many Asian players.

The Sands has half a dozen restaurants--two operated by TV chef Emeril Lagasse--and more are to open.

A hotel and entertainment complex is being built across the street.

Casino table games in Pennsylvania are expected to be the final death knell for gambling in nearby Atlantic City, New Jersey.

With profits down substantially the last few years at Atlantic City casinos, since Pennsylvania got slots casinos, profits will now tumble even more since full-scale gambling in now available in the Keystone State.

At one time half of all Atlantic City gamblers were from Pennsylvania, with a quarter just from the Philadelphia area.

Now Philly has two casinos of its own.

People in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton hub of Pennsylvania, also called the Lehigh Valley, used to have to drive 150 miles to Atlantic City for a gambling fix.

Now Bethlehem, known as the "Christmas City," has a casino.

All Atlantic City can offer now as an enticement to Pa. gamblers is the ocean, and it's polluted.

By Tom Somach

Gambling911.com Staff Writer

tomsomach@yahoo.com

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