ROCKY GAP  — The upcoming vote on legalizing table games may dictate the timing and precise plans for changing the Rocky Gap conference center into a gaming parlor and the timing of rebuilding lost conference space.

Representatives of Lakes Entertainment met with county officials and legislative delegation members Thursday to discuss their plans for the lodge and resort. Evitts Resort LLC, which owns the lodge and resort, is a subsidiary of Lakes Entertainment.

Evitts did not present its building plans at the Thursday meeting, said Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine. He said he expected the plans to be presented at the meeting.

“Now they’re working up some preliminary plans,” Valentine said and demolition and construction should move quickly after the referendum.

Commissioners remain most concerned about the conference space.

“We don’t want to give up 10,000 square feet of conference space and end up with 5,000,” Valentine said. He said the casino area would probably be open by the first day of June 2013 and a new conference center four to six months later.

“We’re still in the development phase,” said Ivan Lanier of Greenwill Consulting Group, which represents Evitts in Maryland. “We certainly understand our obligation to replace existing conference space.”

The plans will have to be approved by The Video Lottery Facilities Commission and the Department of Natural Resources.

The outcome of the statewide referendum to expand gambling in Maryland and allow table games will also influence the plans, Lanier said. The configuration of the gaming rooms would likely change to make more space for table games along with the slot machines, he said.

The current plan calls for renovation of the existing facilities to convert 20,000 square feet of existing convention and meeting space into a slots parlor with a minimum of 500 video lottery terminals, a bar and a food outlet, company officials have said.

The total cost of the Rocky Gap acquisition and development project is expected to be between $25 million and $30 million.

The purchase price was about $6.8 million and Evitts signed a lease for 260 acres for 40 years with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, according to company filings with the SEC.

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

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