Restaurateur, 6 others push for table games to be part of Nemacolin casino
Table games and slots go together like hamburgers and french fries, according to a Fayette County businessman who spoke in favor of bringing blackjack and roulette to the Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands in Fayette County.
“I can't imagine the casino without table games,” said Fred Zeigler during a public hearing Thursday at the Wharton Township Municipal Building before three members of the state Gaming Control Board. “It's like McDonald's without french fries.”
Zeigler, owner of the Stone House Restaurant in Farmington, was one of seven people who spoke in favor of Woodlands Fayette LLC's request to have table games at the casino. The speakers said the table games will draw more visitors to the Laurel Highlands, create additional jobs and increase tax revenues.
No one spoke against allowing table games at the resort.
The board in April 2011 granted Nemacolin the state's final resort casino license. The $60 million casino, which will be operated by Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., is under construction and will open this summer, according to Arnold Block, chief operating officer for Isle of Capri.
Block, who spoke during the hearing, said the casino will include 600 slot machines and 28 table games. Isle of Capri, he said, paid the $7.5 million table games authorization fee and other expenses required to bring them to the resort.
Rich Laudon, vice president and general manager of Lady Luck, said the casino will employ 400, with 130 for the table games. Table games are projected to generate $1.4 million in gaming taxes, with a 2-percent local share, he said.
John “Jack” Lewis, a Wharton Township supervisor, said he wants to use the tax revenues to buy equipment, build storage sheds and to pave and maintain roads. The casino is “like a dream come true” because of its potential for jobs and tax revenues, he said.
“We're going to do everything in our power in the township to keep it secure,” Lewis said. “Wharton Township will be able to do things we've never been able to do.”
Lewis said the township receives $75,000 in property taxes toward its annual budget of approximately $1 million. He did not have estimates on how much the casino is expected to generate in taxes, but Nemacolin officials have previously said they anticipate gambling will create $1.3 million a year in taxes for Wharton, $2.1 million for Fayette County and $37.7 million for the state.
Laudon said the casino has received 1,000 job applications and has hired nine senior managers, two of whom are from Pennsylvania. Laudon said casino jobs will include dealers, cashiers, security officers, bartenders, valet drivers, waiters and waitresses.
He said salaries will vary, depending on positions.
“We'll be competitive,” Laudon said. “We'll try to stay in similar pay ranges to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.”
The process for hiring dealers has begun, with 100 people having visited a Feb. 2 informational meeting on dealer school. Laudon said the first dealer school starts on Monday and will last five to 11 weeks.
Others who spoke in favor of table games at the casino were Wharton Supervisor James Means, state Sen. Rich Kasunic, state Rep. Tim Mahoney, Muriel Nuttal of the Fayette Chamber of Commerce and Ronald Virag of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau.
Nemacolin's founder, Joe Hardy, and his daughter, Maggie Hardy Magerko, resort owner and president, attended but did not offer any testimony.
Construction on the casino began in October in the resort's former Wild Side entertainment center. In addition to slots and table games, it will house two restaurants. The general contractor is Keating Building Co. of Philadelphia, Block said.
Linda Lloyd, hearing officer, said a transcript of Thursday's hearing will be provided to the full gaming board before a public vote on the request.
Lloyd said the board has 60 days from the date the petition was filed to render a decision. According to the gaming board's website, Woodlands Fayette filed for the table games' authorization on Jan. 9.
Isle of Capri owns and operates 15 casinos in six states and has an annual payroll of $253 million, according to Block. Nemacolin hosts 350,000 guests annually and has an annual payroll of $23 million, according to Chris Plummer, general manager.
Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Connellsville diners can again ‘Savor the Avenue’
- Mother of Fayette County killer wants to testify in closed courtroom
- Acme teen excited to experience fair as queen
- Dawson Grange Community Fair stands out by staying free to attend
- Woman threatened with knife at ATM in Uniontown
- Fayette County’s head detective named chief adult probation officer
- Ceremony, parade mark start of 61st annual Fayette County Fair
- Connellsville cancer patient gets some ‘Satisfaction’ at Rolling Stones concert
- Fair weather expected for opening of Fayette County Fair
- Hundreds to participate in Nicholson Memorial Bike Run to benefit cancer patients
- Former Fayette County Democratic chairman, county commissioner Lebder dies at 94