Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Stars shining in Bethlehem

It looks like the center of the region's casino entertainment universe has shifted about 120 miles to the northeast.

Stars shining in Bethlehem

The Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls

It looks like the center of the region’s casino entertainment universe has shifted about 120 miles to the northeast.

For the past decade, no gambling den has made a bigger investment in show business, or brought in more big-time acts, then Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. But now, Sands Bethlehem is giving the Big B a run for its money.

“Last year, we did 55 shows in six months. This year we’ll probably do upwards of 100-120,” bragged Sands President and CEO Bob DeSalvio during the intermission of last Sunday’s sold-out concert by progressive-rock titans, Yes.

The best part for DeSalvio is that he doesn’t need to waste a lot of time on booking shows in his casino’s Event Center, which  accommodates 2,250 seated patrons and 3,500 people in a general-admission configuration. That task is left to the Philadelphia office of concert-promotion behemoth Live Nation.

“Live Nation’s been doing a great job,” said DeSalvio. “We told them to book as many shows as they can. It looks like we’re going to have at least 15 shows in May and they’re just going to keep booking.”

He added the acts being booked cover a wide swath of the show biz landscape. “We’ve got everything from The Goo Goo Dolls [April 21] to Motley Crue [May 20] to Tony Bennett [July 26] to [comedians] Chris Tucker [May 11] and Brian Reagan [May 12],” he offered. “It’s a great mix of shows.”

As some Atlantic City properties--in particular Revel, which has hosted A-plus-listers like Beyonce, Kanye West and Aerosmith—have discovered, top-shelf acts don’t necessarily translate into casino-revenue gold. But, said DeSalvio, that hasn’t been the case at the Sands.

“Classic rock does very well, but we’re finding that no matter [who the headliner] is, whenever we have a show, the hotel sells out and we have a lot of action in the casino. Clearly, the mix of entertainment and the casino business works really well.”

For a complete list of upcoming Sands shows, go to www.sandseventcenter.com.

Nugget strikes Beach Boys gold

Speaking of big-name musical attractions, Golden Nugget Atlantic City has scored something of a coup by booking pop genius Brian Wilson for a July 20 concert in the intimate Grand showroom. Wilson will be joined by his cousin (and fellow Beach Boy charter member), Al Jardine and David Marks, another original Beach Boy.

Show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $105-$65. For tickets, call 800-736-1420, or go to www.ticketmaster.com.

More fab fakes

 Actually, the biggest names of all can be found at Bally’s Atlantic City, where the spring edition of “Legends in Concert” is running through June 30.

Of course, the names may be real, but the performers are impersonators who perform the signature tunes of Katy Perry, Michael Buble, Tina Turner, Tom Jones and, of course, Elvis Presley (apparently, state law prohibits a “Legends” roster that doesn’t include a faux “King”).

Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, and 7:30 and 10 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $32.50 (adults) and $16.25 (kids 3-16). For tickets, call 800-736-1420, or go to www.ticketmaster.com.

About this blog
Philly native Chuck Darrow has literally covered Atlantic City’s casino scene since Day One: He was there on assignment the night in November 1976 when voters approved legalized casinos.

Since then, Chuck has covered the town and its gaming industry for several area newspapers -- which is why, in some circles, he’s known as “Boardwalk Charlie.”

You can reach Chuck at darrowc@phillynews.com. Reach Chuck at darrowc@phillynews.com.

Chuck Darrow
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