Cumberland Times-News

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May 20, 2013

Final testing for Rocky Gap Casino

CUMBERLAND — As required by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, the Rocky Gap Casino went through final live testing of its operations Monday, with officials hoping to open casino doors for business on Wednesday.

“The tests are to make sure everything is working properly on the gaming floor,” said Scott Just, general manager.

Referred to as controlled demonstration by Rocky Gap Resort owner Lakes Entertainment, the testing was conducted from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. It tested the functions and procedures of the casino’s 558 slot machines and 10 gaming tables.

“The casino is operating like it normally would. It’s real, live betting at the tables and real money is being used,” said Stephen Martino, director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency.

 Once the testing was completed and revenues for the day were collected and counted, an audit will be done to find if any problems are present with the operations. Since the test is held prior to the official granting of its license, the casino is donating any profits to charity.

“We may open May 22, but then it might be May 23,” said Just.

If no problems exist that could cause a delay for the casino, the Gaming Control Agency will sign the licensing paperwork to clear the casino to begin operating.

“We should know something my midday tomorrow,” said Martino.

Martino said paving of the roads leading to the lodge may factor into the official opening as well.

The positive effects for Allegany County are already being felt.

The resort is employing about 350 workers and is expanding with two construction projects. A 215-space parking lot and an addition to the lodge on the lake side in the form of an events center are both under way.

“As a regulator, our work is to ensure that this is a safe and secure facility and it promotes fair play,” said Martino.

Once operating, it will generate revenue for the county to the tune of 5.5 percent annually.

Using current trends as an indicator, gaming has the potential to bring large scale revenue to the area.

In fiscal year 2012, Maryland took in its 15th straight year of record-breaking sales at $1.795 billion, according to Maryland Lottery. In addition to revenue from scratch off games, Keno, Powerball, Pick 3 and 4, Mega Millions, Racetrax and Bonus Match, the state’s big three casinos have thrived as well.

With more sites planned, the current top producer in the state is the Hollywood Casino in Perryville with $118 million in revenue last year. The Casino at Ocean Downs was second with a take of $48 million and the Maryland Live! Casino in Arundel Mills was third with $28.5 million.

Rocky Gap’s table games will feature blackjack, Mississippi stud poker, three card stud, roulette and craps. Video lottery terminals include Wheel of Fortune, Aladdin, Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers and Monopoly.

“If people want to come here and have an enjoyable time, in fact that will happen,” said Martino.

Gone are the days of coins and tokens. The casino will operate with cards that have money or points added and subtracted from it. The cards remain in the machine during play. When finished, players receive a cash-out voucher that can be turned into money at ATM machines or at the casino window.

Officials hope the remote location of the resort, which also has four restaurants and an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course, will encourage customers to spend more time once they plan their visit.

“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.

The casino urges customers to sign up for its rewards club. It will have promotions that can be placed on a player’s card when swiped. Customers receive free spins or credits up to $500 under its Spin to Win program.

Gaming has been a large contributor to efforts statewide. According to the Maryland Lottery, $556 million of its 2012 revenue stream was donated to education, human resources, public safety and more.

Martino said Rocky Gap is a smaller operation than the other casinos operating in the state.

“But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be a very successful operation for this part of the state. It will play an economic development role in Western Maryland,” said Martino.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com

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