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Gettysburg loses battle for casino

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board passed over Gettysburg and the West Shore for the state’s final resort casino license this morning, awarding it by a 6-1 vote to Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Fayette County.

Mason-Dixon Resort & Casino, just south of Gettysburg in Cumberland Township, Adams County, was considered Nemacolin‘s principal rival. Its backers still believe it was the best candidate, spokesman David LaTorre said.

“Nothing changes our mind,” he said.

It’s too early to say whether Mason-Dixon will appeal the decision, he said.

The other midstate candidate, Penn Harris Gaming’s West Shore Casino Resort in Hampden Township, Cumberland County, was widely considered a long shot and was not mentioned in the meeting.

Nemacolin and operator Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. are planning a facility with 600 slot machines and 28 table games, to be named Lady Luck Nemacolin. It will take about nine months to build the $50 million project once the license is formally issued, the companies said in a statement.

Nemacolin and Isle of Capri plan to move forward expeditiously, said 84 Lumber magnate Joe Hardy, Nemacolin’s developer. Hardy’s daughter, Maggie Hardy Magerko, is the resort’s president.

“We’re just so excited,” said Cheri Bomar, Nemacolin Woodlands’ chief counsel.

The meeting took place in the Pennsylvania State Museum auditorium to accommodate several hundred spectators. Opponents of the Gettysburg casino cheered when the vote was taken, and one shouted, “Long live Gettysburg!”

Opponents have long said the planned casino would be too close to Gettysburg’s hallowed Civil War battlefield and would disrupt the area’s rural character.

Gaming board officials said all four license applicants were well-qualified, and board members stressed the difficulty of their decision.

Board member Kenneth Trujillo cast the lone vote against Nemacolin. Before the vote, he said he preferred the Bushkill Group’s proposed Fernwood Resort project in the Poconos.

Tim Stuhldreher

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