In a throwback to a time when Pennsylvania was known for thriving steel-making towns, Las Vegas Sands
The $743 million project is very well placed, as it is closer than Atlantic City to most people in New York and northern New Jersey. And while a tough economy like this may seem like a bad time to open a new casino, Pennsylvania's budding gaming industry -- which was only legalized in 2004 -- reported year-over-year growth of nearly 14% in April.
Sands Bethlehem is just another step that Sands has taken to further diversify itself outside of the Las Vegas Strip. Strip giant MGM
As I've noted in the past, the Motley Fool's CAPS community hasn't had a particularly sanguine view of the casino industry. And Las Vegas Sands -- which sports a two-star rating out of a possible five -- is towards the bottom of the community's list. In fact, just recently, Frenchyx, one of CAPS' All-Stars, rated the stock an underperformer, citing its debt load and reported losses. Given the economic uncertainties and that heavy debt burden, I can't completely disagree.
At the same time though, I really like Sands' property portfolio, which includes the Venetian and Palazzo in Vegas; Sands, Venetian, and Four Seasons in Macau; and now Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania. And the company has plans for further development in Macau, as well as more diversification through a project in Singapore.
I fully expect that Sands could continue to take some lumps, but for those with a stomach for risk, I wouldn't wipe this stock off the radar.