Representatives from Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and Isle of Capri will go before the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board this week to plead their case in their effort to be awarded the last remaining Pennsylvania Category 3 casino licenses. A Category 3 licenses must be awarded to an established, year-round resort. Pennsylvania state law allows for two such licenses. The first is held by Valley Forge Convention Center Partners.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort Manager Chris Plummer says their application is the only application that lives up to the spirit of the Category 3 Licenses. “Nemacolin is, no doubt about it, Pennsylvania’s most well established, year-round resort,” says Plummer, “we are adding an amenity to our resort to help the resort, to help tourism in Pennsylvania, to generate jobs, generate taxes.” Plummer says the other three applicants are just creating “mini Category 2 casinos.” Category two licenses are awarded to stand alone casinos such as the Rivers in Pittsburgh. Category 1 licenses are reserved for racetracks.
Also pleading their case at the November 16th and 17th hearing will be Mason-Dixon Resorts, which plans to operate out of the Eisenhower Hotel and Conference Center in Adams County; Penn Harris Gaming at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg West, Cumberland County; and Bushkill Group, which will operate out of the Fernwood Hotel and Resort in Monroe County. Plummer says none of those applicants are running facilities like he is running. “People come to Nemacolin to play golf, to eat in 5 star, 5 diamond restaurants, stay in five star lodging, enjoy the spa, and maybe gamble at night,” says Plummer.
Several current casino licenses holders plan to contest one or more of the licenses applications. Among them is the Meadows Racetrack and Casino. A spokesperson at the meadows did not make an official from the company available for an interview. The Meadows is less than an hour and a half drive from Nemacolin. Plummer says the business model they have does not rely on taking player from the Meadows. He says his casino would be a destination for travelers from around the country with 70% of expected guests being from outside of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Plummer says the casino would create 600 new jobs and could be open within 6-9 months of the licenses being granted. Nemacolin has teamed up with casino operator Isle of Capri to file the application under the name Woodlands Fayette. Isle of Capri was part of the failed attempt by the Pittsburgh Penguins to land a license to operate a casino out of the new arena.