New Casino Planned for Pittsburgh Area

Feb. 10--What once was a pricey outdoors store, with stuffed caribou and bears adorning its faux mountain walls, will be transformed into a casino if and when Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa is awarded a slot machine license.

The former Woodlands World outdoor store, Nemacolin's scaled-down version of the popular Cabela's chain, was closed this year, with its stock moved to a smaller store in downtown Uniontown. The now-empty building, along Route 40 in Fayette County, is about 50,000 square feet, large enough to accommodate not only the 500 slot machines, but also restaurants, a lounge or even a stage.

Detailed plans are scheduled to be revealed around April 7, said Jeff Nobers, spokesman for the Nemacolin resort and 84 Lumber Co., both of which are controlled by businessman Joe Hardy.

Subsequently, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the agency that reviews casino applications and issues the licenses, will hold a public meeting to discuss the plans. The meeting is scheduled for May 2 at the Holiday Inn hotel in Uniontown.

The Adirondack-style building is past the entrance to Nemacolin, and away from the heart of the resort. The closest overnight lodge is the upscale Falling Rock, which opened in 2004.

The Woodlands World store opened just two years before that. At the time, Mr. Hardy hoped it would be home to an animal sanctuary, an auditorium and other attractions that would cover 20 acres.

But the store never generated enough visitor traffic to make that possible.

Nemacolin, 70 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is one of two applicants in the running for the two licenses being reserved for resorts, meaning they are virtually guaranteed a casino license, unless something prohibitive shows up on their respective applications.

Seven Springs Mountain Resort, in Somerset County, is the other resort-casino applicant.

[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (KRT) -- 02/13/06]