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Pa. SC affirms selection of Nemacolin resort for slots license

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Aug 21, 2012


PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in a majority ruling Monday, affirmed the state Gaming Control Board's selection last year of a proposed casino project in Fayette County for a slot machine license.

The casino will be located at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pa.

In its 46-page opinion, the Court approved the board's decision awarding the resort a Category 3 gaming license, saying it found "no error warranting relief."

Mason-Dixon Resorts LP had appealed the board's decision to award Woodlands Fayette LLC such a license.

Mason-Dixon was one of four applicants that applied for the single available slots license.

The company had proposed to operate a gaming facility at the Eisenhower Hotel in Adams County.

The other applicants for the license were Woodlands, with its facility at Nemacolin; Penn Harris Gaming LP, with a proposed facility to be located in Cumberland County; and Bushkill Group Inc., with a proposed facility to be located in Monroe County.

All four submitted their applications to the state gaming board between June 2007 and April 2010.

The board, along with its Bureau of Licensing and Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, conducted a review of the applicants, their principals and their proposed facilities. In addition, it held public hearings.

It also heard testimony from witnesses presented by the applicants, reviewed what was considered a "voluminous" documentary record and received more than 35,000 written comments from the public in support or against the applications.

On April 14, 2011, the board awarded the slots license to Woodlands in a 6-1 vote.

In its 106-page order and adjudication, dated May 20, 2011, it wrote that Woodlands should be awarded the license "because it possesses the finest well-established resort hotel out of all the applicants and is best positioned to benefit from the addition of a Category 3 licensed facility."

Soon after, Mason-Dixon filed a petition for review with the state Supreme Court, claiming the board erroneously awarded the slots license to Woodlands.

Chief Justice Ronald Castille, writing for the majority, noted that there may have been other applicants for the license, including Mason-Dixon, whose facilities may have been more "appropriate" for the award.

"Our task, however, is not to determine for ourselves which of the facilities was the best one, but instead to pass upon the specific claims raised, under the standard of review established by the (Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming) Act," he wrote.

"Finding no error warranting relief," the majority affirmed the board's order and adjudication awarding the license to Woodlands.

"We are pleased that the Supreme Court affirmed the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's decision to select Lady Luck Nemacolin for a Category 3 resort license," Virginia McDowell, Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.'s chief executive officer, said in a statement Tuesday.

"We designed a project that will exceed the goals of the Pennsylvania Gaming Act by boosting tourism, creating jobs and boosting state revenues while adding an exciting new amenity to this premier resort.

"Much work has been done already, and much work continues including obtaining remaining necessary approvals from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board."

McDowell said the company anticipates construction of the project -- called Lady Luck Nemacolin -- to start as soon as all of the approvals are in place. After which, she expects the casino to open in nine to 12 months.

"The addition of Lady Luck Casino will give our guests an important new amenity that, we believe, will allow us to attract new guests to Pennsylvania from all over the country and world," said Maggie Hardy Magerko, president and owner of Nemacolin.

"We are pleased with this decision and look forward to working closely with our partners as we create an outstanding amenity at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort."

The casino is expected to include 600 slot machines, 28 table games and a casual dining restaurant and lounge.

Located in Fayette County, Nemacolin is one of North America's premier resort destinations, earning a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star rating and a AAA Four Diamond Rating.

Nemacolin also has been named one of Travel + Leisure magazine's 500 Best Hotels in the World.

Situated on nearly 2,000 acres, the resort features 318 luxurious guest rooms, suites, townhouses and private luxury homes.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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