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Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, debuting to public on Monday, provides hundreds of jobs

| Friday, June 28, 2013, 12:03 a.m.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
A crew with E.gads work to install an exterior sign at Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands photographed on Thursday, June 27, 2013, during a media tour highlighting the casino. The casino will officially be open on Monday, July 1, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Dealer Jarod Smith, of Connellsville, stands at a gaming table inside Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands during a media tour on Thursday, June 27, 2013. The casino will officially be open on Monday, July 1, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Children as young as 14 are sneaking into casinos to try their luck at a roulette wheel or slot machine — a costly problem for Pennsylvania gaming operators who are lobbying for tougher penalties for underage gamblers.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Dealer Nathan Kulikoski, of Perryopolis, and Table Game Supervisor Joe Tromba display casino chips at a roulette table inside Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands photographed on Thursday, June 27, 2013, during a media tour highlighting the casino. The casino will officially be open on Monday, July 1, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Lone Wolf Bar inside Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands photographed on Thursday, June 27, 2013, during a media tour highlighting the casino. The casino will officially be open on Monday, July 1, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Chips rest on a craps table at Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands photographed on Thursday, June 27, 2013, during a media tour highlighting the casino. The casino will officially be open on Monday, July 1, 2013.
Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Dealers stand at their gaming tables inside Lady Luck Casino at Nemacolin Woodlands during a media tour on Thursday, June 27, 2013. The casino will officially be open on Monday, July 1, 2013.

Jarod Smith has a college degree in gaming and casino management, but the 27-year-old Fayette County man had been unable to land a job in his field for seven years.

His luck changed for the better when Isle of Capri hired him as a dealer at Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, which will hold its grand opening at noon on Monday.

“I'm glad Isle of Capri gave me the opportunity to get my foot in the door,” said Smith of Connellsville, during a media tour of the casino on Thursday. “I was working construction before this, and this is way better.”

The $60 million casino at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort is the 12th casino to open in Pennsylvania. A partnership between Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington and Isle of Capri, it features 600 slot machines, 28 table games, a restaurant and a lounge.

Smith is one of approximately 500 dealers, slot technicians, servers, cooks, waitresses, security officers, housekeepers and others who found jobs with the casino, said Jill Alexander, Isle of Capri spokeswoman.

Like Smith, Nathan Kulikoski, 22, of Perryopolis, said he was looking for a better job than the one he had as a convenience store clerk when the casino opportunity arose.

“I've always enjoyed casinos, so I thought I would give it a shot,” said Kulikoski, noting that running the roulette wheel for the casino is “a lot more fun” than his old job.

“I was trying to get into the railroad, but they weren't hiring anytime soon, so I came up here,” Kulikoski said.

Others, including executive chef Christine Hale, 46, of Morgantown and sous chef Scott Bloom, 41, of Vanderbilt said their new jobs at the casino will allow them to remain closer to home and family.

On Thursday afternoon, employees were preparing for two invitation-only “test nights” that served two purposes: to raise money for charity and to give Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officials a chance to observe the casino in operation, said Rich Laudon, the casino's general manager.

Kevin O'Toole, executive director of the gaming board, pointed out the test nights assist in ensuring the casino is in compliance with all state regulations.

“We want to make sure the games work properly,” O'Toole said, adding everything from the slot machines down to the table games' playing cards and chips have been inspected. Personnel underwent background checks, and various security measures are in place to ensure money is properly counted and patrons aren't doing anything to improperly tip the odds in their favor, he said.

“If anybody comes into the casino and thinks they can get away with any cheating activity, they are barking up the wrong tree,” O'Toole said.

Nemacolin holds a Category 3 resort gaming license, meaning patrons at Lady Luck will be required to spend at least $10 on resort amenities before being allowed into the casino, per state law governing its special license.

Patrons can gain entry in a number of ways, including by showing a receipt at the door that reflects the minimum in resort purchases, said Chris Plummer, general manager of the resort. Ten-dollar gift cards, which can be purchased at the casino entrance, qualify to gain entry, he said.

People who purchase an annual $45 “Nemacolin Experience” membership have unlimited access for 12 months for themselves and a guest. The memberships are good for special rates and discounts at the resort's other amenities, as well, Plummer said.

It is unknown how much in tax revenues the casino will generate, said Doug Harbach, gaming board spokesman, but he noted that the state's other 11 casinos generate approximately $4 million a day, or $1.5 billion a year.

Laudon said Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, Isle of Capri's 16th casino, is expected to become the “flagship of the Lady Luck brand.” At least 500 guests are anticipated on opening day, he said.

“We're very proud of how this has turned out,” Laudon said. “A lot of hard work got us here today.”

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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