The state of Pennsylvania passed a law in 2004 to grant a limited number of gaming licenses throughout the state.The tax revenue from this gaming would be used to provide property tax relief at the local level and to channel additional tax dollars to host cities and counties.The Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVSC) applied for a license as part of a proposal to redevelop one of the largest brown-field properties in American history and to convert that blighted property into a billion dollar mixed-use entertainment complex in Bethlehem, PA.
The LVSC was competing against numerous other gaming proposals across the region, and in order to win approval for a license from the State Gaming Board, LVSC would first have to gain support of government officials at the county and city level, and ultimately, of the citizens of that host region.The new gaming law was controversial, as was the proposal to bring gaming to Bethlehem, PA, a culturally conservative area with strong roots to the MoravianChurch.Furthermore, the proposal was complex from a historical perspective, as it required the appropriate treatment for the proposed redevelopment of the properties that once made up the heart of America’s now defunct steel industry, and indeed, the region’s central role in our country’s industrial revolution in the early 20th century.
Serving as the company’s pollster of record, V&A was hired as a member of the senior consulting team to help design and implement a public affairs strategy to win local support for the proposal, to address a seemingly endless number of regulatory and government hurdles, and to ultimately win the competition for a license to operate a casino in Eastern Pennsylvania.V&A helped craft a communications and lobbying strategy to secure the necessary support, including providing key insight about how to win support fromthe old-timers in Bethlehem with a plan to “Preserve the Legacy of Bethlehem Steel.”
Over the course of two years, our team grew voter support for the project to a nearly 2-1 margin in favor of the plan, achieved multiple approvals from city and county government and won the state gaming license.
LVSC breaks ground on the project in the Spring of 2007 and will create thousands of jobs and bring millions of dollars of investment into the city.And, LVSC will preserve much of the old Bethlehem Steel structures as part of the theme of the new entertainment complex, including a partnership with The Smithsonian to establish and build a National Museum of Industrial History in Bethlehem, PA.