Judge upholds Nemacolin casino license

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Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, the posh Fayette County pleasure spot and would-be casino operator, has won its latest court battle with an opponent who wants to build a casino near Gettysburg instead.

The state Supreme Court on Monday denied an appeal filed by Mason-Dixon Resorts L.P., which had contested the decision that awarded a casino license to Nemacolin in April 2011.

Nemacolin, in a statement, said it is now free to begin construction on the casino, which will be called Lady Luck and managed by Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.

The casino should open sometime in 2013, the company said, with 600 slot machines, 28 table games, a restaurant and a lounge.

In March, when the case was contested before the state Supreme Court, Mason-Dixon Resorts argued that Nemacolin's casino application did not meet the letter of the Pennsylvania gaming law because the resort did not have enough guest rooms and was not placing its casino and slot machines "in" the hotel area. Instead, the casino is being planned for a separate building on Nemacolin property, more than a mile away from the resort's main lodge.

Mason-Dixon also argued that Nemacolin was not financially sound, and thus a bad investment for the state of Pennsylvania and the state's gaming control board.

The Supreme Court disagreed with all of those arguments, as well the one offered by Mason-Dixon that Joe Hardy, founder of Nemacolin and parent company 84 Lumber, was of unsuitable character to own a casino license due to various incidents of "wrongdoing," incidents that were "unsupported" and never resulted in criminal charges, the court wrote.

If it had succeeded in wrestling the casino license away from Nemacolin, Mason-Dixon had hoped to put its own casino at the Eisenhower Hotel in Adams County.

Read the full Supreme Court opinion at http://pgne.ws/d8dFo.

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Bill Toland: btoland@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2625.


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