Pa. board OKs charges to use new resort casino

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Entertainment,Travel

FARMINGTON, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has approved charges that non-resort guests must pay to gamble at a soon-to-open casino at a southwestern Pennsylvania resort.

Under the plan approved Monday, customers must spend $10 at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort to gain one-time entry into the Lady Luck Casino, scheduled to open in July. Non-resort guests may also buy an annual membership for $45 for access to the casino.

The $60 million casino to be run by Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. will have 600 slot machines and 28 table games, including blackjack, roulette, craps and poker.

The casino remains under construction at the resort about 40 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, along U.S. Route 40 in Wharton Township.

Resort spokesman Jeff Nobers said the $10 requirement — essentially a cover charge that is paid when someone not staying at the resort buys a gift certificate or spends money at a resort restaurant, gift shop or on other amenities — is not going to be "cumbersome."

The $45 annual membership includes discounts at the resorts golf courses and spas, and can be used to obtain those discounts even if the person never visits the casino.

"If you use it once or twice a year, it pays for itself," said Chris Plummer, general manager of the resort.

Nemacolin officials wanted to offer the membership for $25, but the state board balked and required the higher price.

"The board looked at it and they felt $25 was selling it for less than what the market value was," board spokesman Doug Harbach said.

The extra charge is an issue only because Nemacolin, like the Valley Force Casino Resort near Philadelphia, is one of two facilities in the state with a resort casino license. Under state law, such casinos are smaller because they're meant to be an "amenity" to the resort and not a draw unto themselves. The state's freestanding casinos are licensed for up to 250 table games and 5,000 slot machines.

Valley Forge patrons also have to spend $10 at that resort to visit its casino.

People who visit Nemacolin but don't stay at the resort will also be able to visit the casino if they're attending certain types of events, such as weddings or conferences, or if they use its golf courses or shooting range, for example.

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