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Evitts scales back Rocky Gap slots proposal

ANNAPOLIS — A planned $65-million casino in western Maryland will be scaled back from 850 slot machines to 500 without a proposed building expansion at the Rocky Gap Lodge and Golf Resort due to trouble finding financing, the company leading the effort said Tuesday.

Tim Cope, president of Evitts Resort LLC, told a state slot machine commission that the company wants to put 500 slot machines inside meeting space in the current facility, with plans to add on meeting space within three years.

“Well, financial markets are tough,” Cope told reporters. “We read the paper every day right? It’s not only local, it’s international, and certainly as a start-up new casino in a somewhat rural area there was a question about if there’s really enough people in that area to support the bigger project.”

The state’s slot machine commission will need to approve the revised plan.

Cope said Evitts is ready to write a check for the new concept, which would cost between $25 and $30 million. The plan could be settled as soon as Friday, if the commission approves the changes.

Cope said the casino could ramp up to 850 machines or more if business dictates further expansion later.

The company still plans to keep all of the employees who now work at the lodge, Cope said. About 100 jobs would be added when the slot machines arrive, about half the new jobs previously planned, Cope said.

Meanwhile, the slots commission could make a decision Tuesday afternoon about awarding a slot machine license to Caesars Entertainment for a Baltimore casino. That is the last of the five casino sites currently allowed under the law that has yet to have a license awarded to a developer.

The Baltimore casino would have 3,750 slot machines, the second-largest in the state. Caesars hopes construction will begin in the second quarter of next year, with a projected opening about a year later.

The casino would be located in downtown Baltimore, not far from Oriole Park at Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium.

Gov. Martin O’Malley has scheduled a special session beginning Aug. 9 for lawmakers to consider expanding gambling in Maryland to allow table games like craps and roulette and a new casino site in Prince George’s County.

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