- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

ANNAPOLIS | The state Board of Public Works gave final approval Wednesday for a casino to be built at a state-owned Western Maryland resort.

The three-member board unanimously approved a $54-million deal to allow private development of a 50,000-square-foot casino at Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort in Allegany County.

The casino will be developed and operated by Evitts Resort LLC and Lakes Maryland Development LLC, which received approval from a state commission in April to run the site.

The facility is expected to open in the summer of 2013 and will have 850 slots machines, eventually expanding to 1,000.

State officials hope that a casino will improve business at Rocky Gap, which opened in 1998 but has continually lost money due in part to its remote location.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp praised the deal’s potentially impact on state revenues while Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot, a Democrat and ardent critic of gambling, said he supports the transaction because it will get the debt-addled resort off the state’s hands.

Rocky Gap was one of five slots locations approved by voters in a 2008 referendum.

A state work group is currently discussing legislation to legalize table games at Rocky Gap and the other sites, as well as add a sixth casino in Prince George’s County.

The group will meet Wednesday afternoon to potentially finalize legislation which could be considered during a special session next month.

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