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Owner Gives Update On Casino Plans In Western Md.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- The owner of the Rocky Gap Lodge & Golf Resort in western Maryland said Thursday that the company hopes to have a casino open in late May and new meeting space completed by late fall.

Tim Cope, president of Evitts Resort LLC, told a state commission the casino will have 558 slot machines and 10 table games. He said construction on new meeting space at the facility near Cumberland will begin around the time the casino opens.

"We are under the design phase of that now," Cope said. "We anticipate starting construction on the new meeting space in May, slightly before the casino itself opens, and then with the new meeting space to be open to the public late fall -- October, November timeframe."
Cope also said there will be slightly more meeting space at the facility than before, and he left open the possibility that the casino could expand. The casino is licensed to have up to 850 machines.

Meanwhile, the state's Video Lottery Facility Location Commission approved a draft request for proposals for a new casino in Prince George's County, near the nation's capital. The casino can be within a four-mile radius of an area that includes National Harbor on the

Potomac River and the Rosecroft Raceway.

MGM Resorts, which wants to build a casino at National Harbor, waged an unprecedented advertising battle in Maryland last year with Penn National Gaming, which owns Rosecroft, over a ballot question to allow the casino and table games. Voters approved the ballot question. The two companies raised most of the roughly $93 million spent on advertising. Penn National also owns a casino in Perryville, north of Baltimore, and a large casino in West Virginia, just over Maryland's border.

The Prince George's County casino could have up to 3,000 slot machines and table games such as blackjack and roulette, but it could not open until either July 1, 2016 or 30 months after a casino opens in Baltimore. The Baltimore casino is estimated to open in the summer of 2014, said Stephen Martino, the lottery director.

The deadline for proposals will be 90 days, or about the middle of May. The commission could award a license perhaps as soon as the end of the year, Robert Howells, of the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, said.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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