Cumberland Times-News

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March 2, 2013

County supports casino's special liquor license

CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners threw their support behind a special liquor license designed for the Rocky Gap casino and praised progress in development at the site at their business meeting Thursday.

“I think we’re finally going to get a destination resort,” said County Commissioner Bill Valentine. Valentine said progress in renovations at the site were moving along well.

The new reception area is nearly complete and one feature will be a large sports bar with a concrete patio, Valentine said. Guest rooms are being repainted and refurnished when unoccupied.

Commissioners are all in on getting legislation passed to allow Rocky Gap to have the same extended hours as other slots emporiums and soon-to-be casinos already have.

“It’s vital to the operation of Rocky Gap,” said Valentine. House Bill 816 and  companion Senate Bill 629 would allow extended hours for liquor service at Rocky Gap casino through the creation of a video lottery facility license and a concessionaire license.

“We’re committed to making this organization thrive in Allegany County,” Commission President Michael McKay said.

So, commissioners voted to send a letter of support to the respective chairmen of the Senate and House committees.

The annual license fee is $15,000 for the video lottery license and $5,000 for the concession license. That would add $20,000 a year to county coffers, according to a legislative and policy note prepared by the state Department of Legislative Services.

The license would be administered by the county liquor board.

“Food or alcoholic beverages offered by a video lottery operation licensee may be offered only at prices that are determined by the county alcoholic beverages licensing authority to be commensurate with the price of similar types of food and alcoholic beverages at restaurants in the county in which the VLT facility is located,” according to the policy note.

The holder of a video lottery license must also take steps to ensure someone under the influence doesn’t play the slots.

“A video lottery operation licensee must ensure that intoxicated individuals are not allowed to play VLTs and are not allowed in areas of the VLT facility where VLTs are located. 

“The Code of Maryland Regulations requires security operating procedures that ensure that intoxicated individuals are prohibited from entering the VLT facility, or if necessary, immediately re-moved from the facility,” the policy note said.

Officials with Lakes Entertainment, which owns the lodge and resort, have big plans for the next few months.

The gaming operation will start with 550 slot machines and 10 table games.

The casino should open by June, with new conference space available in the fall, Evitts Resort officials have said.

Evitts Resort LLC is a subsidiary of Lakes. The lodge and resort are located in Rocky Gap State Park.

Conference space will be increased beyond what was lost at the lodge to make way for gaming operations.

One of the rooms alone will provide 5,000 square feet of conference space suitable for entertainment and large events, officials with the company have said. Smaller rooms will also be available.

The largest conference room could hold as many as 800 people, officials said.

Contact Matthew Bieniek at mbieniek@times-news.com.

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