Rocky Gap casino could open as early as May 22

Western Maryland resort was one of original slots locations but has been plagued by financial woes

April 26, 2013|By Chris Korman, The Baltimore Sun

Maryland's gaming control commission granted Rocky Gap Casino Resort preliminary approval Friday to begin gaming operations on May 22, pending the results of a controlled demonstration two days prior.

Rocky Gap would become the state's fourth casino, and its smallest. Evitts Resort, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Lakes Entertainment, plans to have only 558 slot machines and 10 tables games available, and has said it will hire 250 employees for its gaming operation. The casino will be open 24 hours a day. Table games will include blackjack, roulette, three-card Poker, Mississippi Stud and craps.

The Casino at Ocean Downs, which was granted permission by commission to operate 24 hours a day during the busier summer season, has 800 electronic gaming machines but has yet to announce its plans for adding table games.

Evitts settled for installing the casino in existing space at the resort after it was unable to find financing for a $62 million expansion that would have delayed the beginning of play until next year. Rocky Gap was previously owned by the Maryland Economic Development Corp., a quasi-public organization that lost millions trying to establish the Western Maryland property as a rural vacation and convention destination.

Bidders were slow to make a play for the Rocky Gap slots license in 2007, and it was not until 2011, when the tax rate for the facility was dropped from 67 to 50 percent, that Evitts entered the picture.

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