Why It Can't Work.


Actually, I’m reporting from the seventh floor of the parking garage overlooking the Lehigh River and the skyline of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on a hot late summer night. I’m at the Sands Bethworks Casino the former Bethlehem Steel Mill that helped build America. The casino has recently added table games so I’m here to see what this does to the overall facility. I’ve haven’t been here in a year and it’s clear that a lot has changed. For starters the place is a lot busier with substantially more people around and cars in the garage which was constructed with steel ironically, that came from sources not in the United States.

Alright. I'm moving on from imported steel.

So I go to the one level gaming floor which is the only location for gaming at this casino and if I had to name my initial impression it would be Asian. The table games are not segregated on the casino floor, instead they are placed strategically amongst the clusters of spinning slot machines. I think this creates some issues but I’ll discuss this later when I explain the Texas Holdem Poker area. So the first tables I see are two empty craps tables followed by an empty Keno table then the action begins. I didn’t count them but there were at least four Pai Gow tables with Asian dealers doing a brisk business followed by at least four blackjack tables also as busy, the dealers here too were Asian. I look around the immediate area the sea of slot machines has been expanded and the electronic version(s) of blackjack and three card poker are still here and are nearby. If I had to name the demographic population and numbers I’d say there were 500-600 people on this floor including in the restaurants with a breakdown:

40% Asian.

40% Elderly.

10%  Middle Aged.

10%  Youth With Proper ID.

Last year when I was there the casino was in the process of adding yet more restaurants and food options well, they have they now literally offer everything under the sun: Burgers to Chinese to Italian to Salads to the popular Emiril Lagasse. I’ve never been to a casino that offers this much on a single floor. I was there about 8:30 PM and the bar areas were just getting going in terms of activity and the band that was to start playing in the largest drinking area.

The only real problem I see with this entire setup is where they have the Texas Holdem Poker area. It’s only been in operation for about a month, and currently they have no tournaments only cash games $1-2, $3-5. The six or so tables are located directly alongside a substantial bank of slot machines with the electronic noise drifting across the area. It was noticeable I couldn’t hear either the dealers or even the floor manager speaking to any of the players and I was standing just beside them but strangely, this didn’t seem to bother any of the players at the three tables in operation. Guess they didn’t need a dealer to ask them if they need to call or raise. I think it’s helpful to have the dealer state what the raise is, especially during the turn. I’m certainly not an expert at this game but I think there is enough strategy to think about besides chip valuation.

I think the same is true of politics as well.

Later as I was eating a salad in the darkness of the roof of the parking garage getting ready to head south I spent some time thinking about how Bethlehem, Pa. reminds me a lot of Manchester, N.H. especially the location of the mills and the brick type of buildings and the similar layout of both cities. Steel and textiles, a mill city is a mill city but the thought I’ll leave you with is:

If it can work in Bethlehem why can’t it work in New Hampshire?