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Wait continues for Category 3 casino applicants - abc27 WHTM

Wait continues for Category 3 casino applicants

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Dennis Owens
abc27 News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) - Like a slot machine in motion, the wheels continue to spin at the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. And the wait continues for applicants in two midstate communities hoping to hit the jackpot with a resort license.

One is the Park Hotel in Hampden Township, Cumberland County. The other is the Eisenhower Resort near Gettysburg. They are two of the four applicants who began the gamble a year and a half ago.

There have been hearings and presentations, paperwork and lawyers. A source for one applicant says they've spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on their project and suspects the other three applicants have done the same.

And they'll have to spend a bit more time awaiting a verdict. There are two new board members who must wade through mounds of paperwork and reams of testimony.

Dave LaTorre, a spokesman for Mason-Dixon resort in Adams County, says the delay is understandable. "Asking someone to come in and make a decision like that immediately, I think, would frankly be an injustice to the system," LaTorre said.

Board members are typically mum about pending applications, but new member Keith McCall said he's already up to speed on the issues and the applicants. He knows where he'd like the new casino to go. He wouldn't tell abc27 News, but did say this about the No Casino Gettysburg protesters, some of whom were present at the board meeting in Harrisburg last week:

"Out of hand you just can't discount their concerns. We all know it and love it as hallowed ground so it certainly will weigh on the decision making process," McCall said.

"I think McCall will be surprised to find at our public hearing we had far more supporters speaking in support of our project than the opposition," LaTorre said.

It is widely believed that the Category 3 license was created by the legislature with Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Greene County in mind. It was assumed by some that Nemacolin would sail through the process. The deadlock on the board indicates that's not so.

Recent media reports have pointed to money troubles for Nemacolin's financial backers. A Gaming Control Board spokesman says he can't comment on those reports, but board members are aware of them. Their Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement can still make recommendations should new and relevant information about the applicants come to light.

While the Gaming Control Board isn't talking about Nemacolin's potential problems, their competitors sure are.

"If the state wants to approve a license for a property that really isn't gonna make money then give it to Nemacolin," LaTorre said. "You need a compass, a GPS, and a helicopter to find it."

It could still be several months before the resort license is awarded. Part of the problem is the qualified majority requirement for the seven-member board. All four of the board members selected by the four legislative caucuses must agree on the winning applicant along with one of the three governor's picks.

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