🔥 Visiting the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania - Martz® Trailways

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Bus • 1h 56m. Take the bus from New York to Bethlehem Westbound /.


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With a steady flow of Asian gamblers busing in from New York, Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem has hired more than Mandarin-speaking.


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Sands Bethlehem casino attracts Asians from New York who ride bus to court at the Sands casino in Bethlehem, as Yuli Cui of Flushing, N.Y.


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Twice a day, they descend on unmarked bus stops off Main Street to secure a $15 seat to the Sands casino in Bethlehem, Pa. Many do not.


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Sands Bethlehem casino attracts Asians from New York who ride bus to court at the Sands casino in Bethlehem, as Yuli Cui of Flushing, N.Y.


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S/S. SAT. SUN. New York, NY (PABT). Lv. △ □. Sands Casino Bethlehem. Ar.


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If the ID is not stamped with “DISABLED GUIDE”, the person accompanying the disabled passenger must purchase a ticket to board the bus.


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For this story, Sands officials declined all comment, saying the company does not discuss internal company business.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} The disabled former construction worker is one of the few non-Asians catching the Sands bus to Bethlehem. Once they start riding the buses, it's hard for them to stop," Kwang Kim said. He gives up and goes home. Kwang S. They're riding the bus to live, and living to ride the bus. Wearing a plaid shirt, a sideways Yankees cap and a smile that appears to touch both ears, he rides the bus twice a day. Petho and a handful of others are left behind without tickets. So evident that south Bethlehem's Touchstone Theatre's latest project is "Journey: Dream of the Red Pavilion" — a stage performance portraying how the surge of Asian visitors to Bethlehem is changing the community. That gives him just enough time to grab dinner and get to Fay Da for the 7 p. But stopping it could make matters worse. You don't see that in other cultures. The buses pour in seven days a week from neighborhoods in Chinatown and Brooklyn, but the flow out of Flushing, in Queens, has become a deluge. Every day. The shift is perhaps most evident in the workforce at the Sands, where more than Chinese-speaking workers have been hired to help welcome a new population of visitors who speak primarily Mandarin, Cantonese or Fujian dialects. As soon as they enter the casino, it's a status change. She's been to the casino hundreds of times over the past three years and, like almost every other time, she's doing her best to kill five hours until her bus returns. Many are low-income and some are even homeless, revealing that for some, riding the bus to the Sands is not only a way of life but a way to live. But that's where bus hosts like "Bobby" sit and sip their coffee for the hour before each motor coach is ready to depart. The free-play giveaway by the casinos and the high-demand ticket system promoted by the bus companies surely encourage gambling abuse that seems to take advantage of the elderly and low-income, said Kim's chief of staff, Yuh-Line Niou. Timothy Fong, director of UCLA's gambling studies program, said little study has been done on gambling among Asians, but his surveys show that it's more prevalent than in the general population. Cui is among thousands of bus riders who flood into the Sands on more than 50 buses a day from heavily Asian-populated New York City neighborhoods in Flushing, Chinatown and Brooklyn. The Census says its population was 44 percent Asian, but in the bustling downtown business district where the buses depart, it's not uncommon for a visitor to walk for blocks without seeing a non-Asian face. Many are homeless men who prefer spending their time on the buses than going to a shelter. He's been making the Bethlehem run for more than a year and he's a nightly regular, but his inflamed tonsils kept him from his regular seat the previous week. What about how sad what they are doing to Bethlehem is? DeSalvio has said the casino welcomes the diverse player makeup and is proud of the diversity in its workforce. But with that arrival comes a double-edged sword that often accompanies such change. Built with tree branches, wood and a canvas tarp for cover, it sits just 30 feet from the canal path used by joggers and bikers, and yet it's completely out of view behind a thick patch of trees. Kim, president of the Korean Community Center, still tries. The smell of Chinese and Korean cuisine wafts across Main Street, as bumper-to-bumper traffic tries to push through the crowds of people hurrying into crosswalks from bulging sidewalks. On one side is a casino and city embracing a new population, but on the other is a veneer of hostility from some not as welcoming. Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem is arguably Pennsylvania's most successful gambling hall. In between calls, he's approached by people wanting a seat on the 7 p. Collectively, they attract more than 8 million visitors a year. It's a phenomenon that's happened quickly, since the Sands casino opened in , and one that becomes more noticeable by the day. But there is one place where the Sands is unmatched: at the tables. It's evident in the group of men who walk a mile from the casino each day to perform tai chi in the park next to the Steelworkers Memorial. In Bethlehem, a city with an Asian population of 2. New Bethany Ministries Executive Director Diane Elliott said she's noticed an increase in non-English-speaking Asian clients at New Bethany's South Side shelter and soup kitchen, but she didn't realize they were likely Sands casino bus riders. At a. With its expertly laid floor made from river stones embedded in the dirt, and bag of rice hanging from a branch, it has a distinctly Asian style. As the 7 p. During the day, the spacious, nondescript shop has some of the tastiest pastries and cakes in the downtown, but at night it becomes the unofficial outlet for casino trips to the Sands, organized by bus companies with such names as Golden Mega, Lucky 9 and Baccarat There's no ticket booth, no Internet presence and no bakery employees who have anything to do with filling the buses. Others are recently emigrated senior citizens who followed their children to America and find the green spaces surrounding Bethlehem's waterways, the canal path and even Lehigh University's campus a daily respite from their busy concrete neighborhoods in New York. So much change brought on by the pursuit of a tiny plastic card loaded with free casino money. We come every day. I'll be interested to see if that transition is ever made. Bethlehem police say it was built by Sands casino bus riders who, in good weather, use the shelter daily to relax until their buses return to New York. That's never a problem for Dongbi Jin, a year-old immigrant from the Fujian province of China. This is our only income. By the time the bus arrives in Bethlehem after 9 p. Those are the people Kwang Kim tries to help with rental assistance grants, job training and social programs at the community center 2 miles from downtown Flushing. His most recent survey showed that even though Asians make up less than 14 percent of California's total population, they account for more than 30 percent of the patrons in the state's casinos. A part of you knows it's not acceptable and a bit predatory," Niou said. That's the position Stephen Petho, 66, of the Bronx is in on this chilly night in January. Fully 20 percent of the Sands' more than 2,member workforce is of Asian descent, more than doubling since , according to the casino's annual diversity report filed with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Huddled at a table with her friends, Cui, 50, plucks a tangerine from the bagged lunch she brought from home. Another Twitter user, Michele Ryder of south Bethlehem, wrote: "So many comments about how 'sad' this thing is with the people on the Sands buses. Only Parx Casino, benefiting from a much larger population zone outside Philadelphia, brings in more gambling revenue. Kim has urged local police to crack down on idling buses that pollute the air and clog streets, and he's seeking legislation that would give tax breaks to local business owners willing to provide space for senior citizens to socialize. It was clearly built by someone with time to be meticulous in constructing a winding stone path that leads to the river. The bus is full, he tells them in Mandarin, but they can stand by and hope someone won't show up or will give up their seat for the right price. We're not going to do something that cuts off their only income. A block from Main is the Fay Da Bakery. Nestled among the trees along the north side of the Lehigh River is the hand-built shelter with a prime view of the Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces and enough bench seating for 10 people. Being poor does not give you a free pass to … litter, loiter, and trespass. Some simply like to gamble, and the deal the Sands is offering is better — and closer — than what they can get at casinos in New Jersey or Connecticut. But one thing she almost never does is gamble. The steady flow of buses has brought with it a cultural change of sorts on both sides of the route. On Facebook and Twitter, some complain about Asian bus riders napping along the greenway, sleeping on top of picnic tables or resting atop pieces of cardboard and newspaper, often with their shoes placed neatly to the side. It's evident in a handmade shelter with its intricately laid stone path to the Lehigh River, built, according to city police, by Asian bus riders. The Sands has the highest number of Asian workers of any casino in Pennsylvania, and virtually all of them are fluent in Mandarin — a necessity to provide good customer service to the casino's wide-ranging clientele, DeSalvio said. And among the most recent additions to the Lehigh University curriculum is a credited class that partners with Touchstone to follow the emerging trend. For some, their immigration status and lack of English make it difficult to find work. All those Chinese-speaking workers help the casino welcome the visitors on the gaming floor, but out in the city, not everyone is so accommodating. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}The endless hum of whirling slot machines washes over the food court at the Sands casino in Bethlehem, as Yuli Cui of Flushing, N. Once he gets back on the bus, Petho will be able to reclaim his regular seat, so long as he rides, and tips, every day. A spectacular vantage point from Kim's 10th-floor downtown office includes a bird's-eye view of the more than 50 casino buses that leave Flushing every day. Bobby works entirely through word of mouth, and on this February day his cellphone rings almost constantly. They're big shots for a little while," Kwang Kim said. And the Sands can credit that dominance to all those buses streaming in from the east. Back in New York, the urban neighborhoods whose populations are dominated by Asian immigrants have quickly become casino bus towns, where downtown streets are clogged by idling tour buses boarding people en route to Atlantic City, Connecticut and, most frequently, Bethlehem. Sometimes she walks the scenic path through south Bethlehem or visits the bookshop at Lehigh University, and sometimes she window-shops at the Sands outlet. Maybe they can find a seat on one of the four other Sands buses that will leave by 11 p. Rows of shops with names printed in Chinese are broken by a few familiar chains such as Burger King and McDonald's. I mean really. A few are there to turn the casino odds in their favor. On the Bethlehem side of the route, a gentle culture shift has begun as thousands of Asian visitors find the city each day by casino bus, many of them fanning out across the South Side to while away the hours until they return. It's a physical sign of the Asian culture that quite literally rolls into Bethlehem each day. He sees 20 to 30 community center members a year — most of them elderly — who are addicted to riding the casino bus. Still, Bobby had to keep every seat filled, so now Petho is back on the waiting list. I'm sorry to say, most go back. You ride every day and you tip every time or you don't get a ticket. VIPs coming tomorrow. It's not a cycle that New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, whose district includes downtown Flushing, is comfortable with, but it's one he acknowledges he has little power to change. A photo of people resting beneath the Fourth Street bridge was posted on Twitter last July with this comment: "If these were year-old kids loitering on the Bethlehem greenway would the police still look the other way? Ryder said she believes the Sands has a "social obligation" to deal with the bus visitors.