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HARRISBURG, PA-Before scheduling a second round of applications for the two available Category 3 gaming licenses, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board held hearings to clarify and potentially alter the rules governing this category. It applies to “well-established” resort hotels and limits the number of slot machines to just 500, designed for use by hotel guests.

The only two entities that previously applied for these licenses have withdrawn their applications, as GlobeSt.com reported. They are Farmington-based Nemacolin Woodland Resort and Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Champion.

Nemacolin’s withdrawal was a business decision based on an apparent misinterpretation of the regulation. It cited a rule that required guests to spend $25 on non-gaming purchases before being permitted to play the slots.

Seven Springs’ ownership is a stakeholder in the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Major League Baseball prohibits team owners from also owning gambling venues.

Tad Decker, PGCB chairman, noted that “two very good applicants” had pulled out for various reasons and says, “We want to make sure that does not occur again.” The objective of the hearing was to clarify the “legislative intent for this class of license,” and also allow the board to consider “possible changes to make ownership of this category license more practicable.”

Testimony was presented by representatives from Lake Harmony-based Split Rock Resort, which is an entity of Vacation Charters Ltd.; Bushkill-based Fernwood Hotel & Resort, which is a Resorts USA Inc. property, and Las Vegas-based Aurora Gaming, which does not have a resort in Pennsylvania. Doug Harbach, spokesman for PGCB, tells GlobeSt.com that the three are potential applicants and says, “several others have contacted our agency, expressing interest.”

Input at the meeting suggested the board consider time shares in determining the number of guest rooms, which, according to current legislation, must be no fewer than 275 rooms under common ownership. It also called for a clearer definition of when a person is considered a patron of the resort’s amenities and therefore eligible to play the slots and asked for a clearer definition of how a facility can be designated “well-established.”

No date has been set for opening the application process. Harbach says, “We expect to announce a date and timeframe for applications next month.” The process itself could begin as early as next month, he adds.

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