Cumberland Times-News

May 21, 2013

Cashing in

Casino at Rocky Gap substantial economic boost

Cumberland Times-News

— As anyone who lives in the area knows, economic gains have been hard to come by in recent years. The opening of the Rocky Gap Casino Resort is one of the biggest boosts the region has seen in some time.

Scores of construction jobs have been needed for the casino property. The resort also is employing about 350 workers.

Then there is the economic benefit to Allegany County taxpayers. Rocky Gap will generate revenue for the county at an annual rate of 5.5 percent. That should mean hundreds of thousands of dollars being pumped into county coffers at a time when every dollar is needed for schools, roads, law enforcement and a myriad of other necessities.

The road to the casino’s opening has been winding and uncertain over the last few years. State legislators had to iron out agreements that would enable the casino owner, Lakes Entertainment, enough of a revenue cut to make a profit. They also had to convince their fellow legislators to give approval to location of a casino in Western Maryland. There also were complicated purchase negotiations with the bond holders who owned the Rocky Gap conference center and golf course.

Our guess is that Rocky Gap will be a big success and a popular drawing card for people living within a 100-mile radius of the facility. Many locals are certain to be frequent customers of the casino and its four restaurants.

When the casino conducted a controlled demonstration Monday, it prompted Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control, to sing the facility’s praises. “I’ve been in a lot of casinos in my life. I would be hard pressed to find one that is as beautiful as this,” said Martino.

We wish Lakes Entertainment and its employees success. If Rocky Gap turns out to be a profitable and appealing tourist and entertainment draw, it will pay out economic benefits to the area for many years to come.