1 resort casino OK'd; Nemacolin back in picture?

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HARRISBURG -- The state Gaming Control Board today approved the first of two resort casino licenses, giving one to the Valley Forge Convention Center west of Philadelphia.

The complex has two hotels and meeting facilities and will put the 500-slot casino within one of the hotels, said attorney Adrian King, a former member of Gov. Ed Rendell's administration. The $42 million slots parlor could be open in nine months.

The gaming board took an unexpected action regarding the second resort casino license. It allowed the only applicant, the Bushkill Group, an additional 90 days to provide further details for its application for a resort in the Poconos, but the board also opened up the application process to any other bidders.

Officials of Nemacolin Woodlands resort in Fayette County had originally sought a resort casino license but later changed their mind. Some House Republican legislators said privately they have heard that Nemacolin may be interested again.

A major Nemacolin official is millionaire Joseph Hardy of 84 Lumber, who is also a political ally of House Democratic Whip Bill DeWeese of Waynesburg. When Mr. DeWeese was the House Democratic leader in 2005, he named former state Rep. Jeffrey Coy to the gaming board. It was Mr. Coy who moved to open up the application process.

Nemacolin spokesman Trey Matthew said no one at Nemacolin knew about the board's plan to reopen applications and the issue of a slots license hasn't been discussed. But he didn't rule it out.

"We'll take anything into consideration,'' he said.

The 2004 slots law provides for seven racetrack/casinos, five stand-alone casinos and two resort casinos. The latter group can only have 500 slots, whereas the other 12 can have up to 5,000 slots.


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