When Lady Luck Casino opened in July 2013, it was hailed as a casino for the “not-so-high-rollers.”

It featured $5 craps. $10 blackjack. A rustic log-cabin facade and a resort whose spacious pool deck gave way to an emerald expanse of grass and Pennsylvania’s undulating hills.

On September 14, the western Pennsylvania casino will attend a hearing at which the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will begin to decide whether to renew the casino’s operator license.

The hearing is a standard process that takes place every three years as stated in the regulations laid out in section 1326 of the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act.

Woodlands Fayette, LLC, is the operator of the casino.

Jobs, access to gambling advantages of opening

When Lady Luck Nemacolin opened in 2013, local residents praised the Fayette County facility for the jobs it created.

A couple of weeks after the casino’s debut, Lady Luck provided nearly 500 jobs, 340 of which went to residents of Fayette County.

The casino also created a new option for residents in that part of the state. The two closest casinos, Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and Meadows Casino, are located more than an hour’s drive away.

Slot license didn’t come easy for Lady Luck

Lady Luck made headlines long before its doors opened, however. The casino’s owners, Woodlands Fayette LLC, won a casino license from the PGCB, beating out three other management groups who proposed sites in various locations in the state.

The PGCB finally awarded the slots license to Woodlands Fayette by a vote of 6-1 in April 2011.

According to Legal News Online, part of the board’s reasoning in awarding the sought-after license to Woodlands’ existing resort property was because, “it possesses the finest well-established resort hotel out of all the applicants and is best positioned to benefit from the addition of a Category 3 licensed facility.”

The decisive decision did not sit well with competing company Mason-Dixon Resorts LP, who filed a petition requesting that the state Supreme Court review the legitimacy of the decision.

The gist of its argument, a 2012 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article pointed out, was that Woodlands Fayette wasn’t eligible for the license because its slots facility was more than a mile away from its hotel. State regulations for Category 3 slots licenses say that the license will be awarded to a facility that places the slots “in” their hotel, not in a different location.

The case would come down to the court’s interpretation of the word “in,” one of the judges hearing the arguments observed.

There were other arguments put forth by Mason-Dixon’s attorneys, two of which were that the resort didn’t have enough rooms to meet the 275-room requirement, and that the resort was not “financially sound.” The opposition held that the gaming board didn’t perform adequate financial due diligence.

In the end, the Supreme Court backed the board’s decision, saying there wasn’t enough proof to withdraw Woodlands’ license and once again make it available to applicants.

Gaming board invites input from citizens

A recent press release from the PGCB announced the license renewal hearing would take place at 10 a.m. on Sept. 12 at the Wharton Township Municipal Building.

Those who want to contribute comments to the hearing can mail their opinions to the following address:

PA Gaming Control Board
P.O. Box 69060
Harrisburg, PA 17106
Attention: Board Clerk

Comments can also be emailed to [email protected] or fax them on 717-265-7416. All comments must be submitted on or before Sept. 12.