Nemacolin Woodlands Resort Awarded Casino Operator License By PA Gaming Control Board
HARRISBURG: The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today awarded a Category 3 license to permit the operation of slot machines at an existing resort to Woodlands Fayette, LLC, operators of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Wharton Township, Fayette County.
The award, made by the seven-member Board at its public meeting in Harrisburg, is the second award of a Category 3 license. The Board has previously awarded the Valley Forge Convention Center with a Category 3 license. Those two Category 3 licenses are the only ones currently available under the Gaming Act, though recent amendments to that law would enable the Board to consider a third such license after the year 2017.
The vote to approve the license was 6-1 with Commissioner Ken Trujillo voting against the motion to award the license to Nemacolin. However, since all four legislative appointees and at least one of the three gubernatorial appointees approved the motion in favor of the award to Nemacolin, the decision met the guidelines of the qualified majority vote provision required to approve a casino license.
The award concludes an in-depth process by the Board in which it received a significant amount of evidence on this and three other applications for this license. Considered but not awarded the license were:
- Mason-Dixon Resorts, LP, to be located at the Eisenhower Hotel, Conference Center and Resort near Gettysburg in Cumberland Township, Adams County;
- Penn Harris Gaming, LP, to be located at the Park Inn Harrisburg West, Hampden Township, Cumberland County; and
- Bushkill Group, Inc., to be located at the Fernwood Hotel and Resort, Middle Smithfield Township, Monroe County.
The Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act presently permits the Board to award two Category 3 licenses to well-established resort hotels in order to create an additional patron amenity. A Category 3 license permits the casino at Nemacolin Woodlands to have a maximum of 600 slot machines in operation. A $5 million license fee must be paid to the Commonwealth for that license. In addition, Nemacolin can petition the Board to operate up to 50 table games at the casino. That can only occur, however, after the Board holds public hearings and votes to approve the petition, and after an additional $7.5 million fee is paid by the license holder for the approved table games certification.
In order to qualify for an award in this category, a casino site must be in a well-established resort hotel with no fewer than 275 guest rooms under common ownership; not located within 15 linear miles of any other licensed slot machine casino; and, already offering substantial year-round recreational guest amenities on their premises.
The Act, along with regulations established by the Board, restricts who can enter the gaming area of a Category 3 casino. Those permitted to utilize the gaming facility include registered overnight guests and patrons of one or more amenities.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort offers 335 rooms, suites, cabins or luxury homes, 31,000 square feet of meeting and banquet facilities, and numerous guest amenities including golf, cross country skiing, an antique car museum, a shooting academy, wildlife habitats, mountain bike trails, an equestrian center, a spa and fitness center, and five swimming pools. In addition, Nemacolin has 14 retail stores in a 55,000 square foot shopping arcade.
Nemacolin has entered into an agreement to have Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. manage the facility which will be named Lady Luck Casino. Officials from the proposed casino resort said during its public hearings that the casino is expected to generate $37 million in annualized tax revenue from slot machines in its first year of operation. Officials from Nemacolin also testified that the casino could be opened within a remodeled existing facility on the property in six to nine months following issuance of the license. In addition to the slot machines and table games, the casino plans to operate two restaurants in this facility while adding approximately 600 new jobs between the casino and the resort.
"This was a challenging decision, but when all was said and done the Board felt the Nemacolin project best fit the intent of the Gaming Act and was best overall for Pennsylvania," said Chairman Gregory C. Fajt. "This decision was the result of a tremendous amount of work by our staff and many citizens of the Commonwealth who took the time to provide the Board with their views both pro and con on each of the projects."
Fajt added that an Adjudication setting forth the reasons for the Board’s Order and Adjudication detailing the reasons for granting Woodlands Fayette, LLC a slot machine gaming license will be issued soon.
Under the Gaming Act, any party with standing in the licensing decision would have 30 days from the date of the issuance of the Order and Adjudication to file an appeal of the Board’s decision to the State Supreme Court. The parties with standing would include all losing applicants in this licensing decision as well as any other party which was granted intervention in the proceedings.
With today’s decision, the Board has now awarded 13 licenses, though one of those awards, to the Foxwoods Casino in facility, was revoked in December and is currently in litigation. Ten casinos are in operation, six Category 1 licensed facilities at horse race tracks and four Category 2 stand alone casinos, all of which can operate up to 5,000 slot machines and 250 table games.
Since the opening of the first casino in November 2006, legalized gaming has returned over $4.7 billion in tax revenue and employs approximately 14,000 persons at Commonwealth casinos.
About the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was established in 2004 with the passage of Act 71, also known as the Race Horse Development and Gaming Act. Pennsylvania’s first new state agency in nearly 40 years, the Gaming Control Board is tasked to oversee all aspects of the state’s casino industry. Currently, the ten casinos in operation in the Commonwealth employ over 14,000 living persons. Legalized gaming has generated over $4.7 billion in tax revenue since the first casino opening in November 2006. That money is enabling property tax reduction for all Pennsylvania homeowners, providing needed funding to Commonwealth’s horse racing industry, and establishing new stream of tax revenue to local governments for community projects. A wealth of information about the Gaming Control Board and Pennsylvania’s gaming industry can be found at www.pgcb.state.pa.us. At this web site, visitors can view videos of Board meetings and on the operation of the PGCB, obtain information on identifying a gambling problem and gaining assistance, look up future meeting schedules and past meeting transcripts, access an interactive map of casino locations, request a speaker for their group, along with much more information.
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