Sale Of Sands Bethlehem Could Bring 6:5 Blackjack To Pennsylvania

According to an article by Matt Assad in The Morning Call, there is a major casino sale about to happen. According to his sources, Las Vegas Sands has reached an agreement to sell Sands Bethlehem to the rapidly expanding MGM Resorts International. The rumored sales price for the 2nd largest casino in Pennsylvania is $1.3 billion.

Neither Las Vegas Sands or MGM Resorts International have commented on the deal. An official announcement of the sale could happen in the next few weeks. If the sale Sands Bethlehem to MGM Resorts International happens it would take about six months from announcement to close.

Timeline To Become An MGM Resorts International Property

Last year MGM Resorts announced the purchase of the remaining 50% of Borgata in Atlantic City on August 1, 2016. Although MGM Resorts International is operating the Borgata today, the transition has been slow. The New Jersey casino will finally begin integration into the M Life Rewards system. They should become part of the MGM Resorts International in April 2017. The conversion should take a few months before Borgata is completely integrated into the MGM Resorts International system.

If we use a similar timeline, Sands Bethlehem should have a new name and begin integration into the M Life Rewards system sometime in the second quarter of 2018.

Profit Growth Plan

A major part of the integration for Sands Bethlehem into the M Life Rewards system includes assimilating existing processes with MGM Resorts International’s Profit Growth Plan (PGP). This plan is an effort to minimize expenses and maximize profits and has been a boon for MGM Resorts International. PGP is a massive project and was expected to generate $400 million for the company last year.

The casino portion of PGP includes increasing the house edge of games whenever possible. The main target of the house edge increases has been recreational blackjack players. Recreational gamblers typically play hands under $25. They’re almost always subject to winning only 6:5 when dealt a natural blackjack.

You’ll find the blackjack rule mostly in Las Vegas and now with some games at MGM National Harbor in Maryland. We’re still a few weeks from seeing if MGM Resorts International will implement a 6:5 blackjack payout at the Borgata in Atlantic City.

New Blackjack Rules In Pennsylvania?

When MGM National Harbor opened in Maryland last year, the gaming commission altered their blackjack rules to allow 6:5 payouts. Three of the six casinos in Maryland now pay 6:5 when a player is dealt a natural blackjack in some of their game. If MGM Resorts International completes the purchase of Sands Bethlehem they might make a similar request to Pennsylvania officials that they made in Maryland.

Earlier this year Pennsylvania’s Gaming Control Board Executive Director, Kevin O’Toole said the following about blackjack:

“I don’t foresee any changes….Our board has consistently recognized their responsibility to protect the gaming public in all aspects of legalized gaming. Part of that is to have rules of the game that provide an appropriate house advantage to the casino but something that still meets a standard of reasonableness and a standard of fairness. We’re pleased with how we have accomplished that in games that have been on the books since 2010.”

Pennsylvania blackjack rules currently pay 3:2 for a natural blackjack and have dealers standing on soft 17. Players may double after splitting a dealt pair and players may surrender. If the projected timeline holds true Pennsylvania residents should keep an eye on the blackjack news in 2018.

Will There Be Online Blackjack In Pennsylvania Too?

According to, Pennsylvania will see online gambling in the near future. While Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson has been against online gambling, MGM Resorts has been a proponent in every state they operate. Perhaps a push to change brick and mortar casino rules will coincide with a push for online gambling.