Tucked in a part of Southwestern Pennsylvania well known as a five-star vacation destination since the early 1900s, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is a rather small PA casino operation that represents just one of many guest amenities that are a part of the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
The property seems content to stay a small, local operator. It did not apply for any online casino licenses. Additionally, it is the only casino in Pennsylvania not to apply for a $10 million sports betting licenses.
Here is some background on the property, which is currently owned by Eldorado Resorts, but managed by Churchill Downs.
The Laurel Highlands history
The Laurel Highlands area became a popular retreat for wealthy Pittsburgh industrialists and merchants in the early 1900s. In the 1930s, a number of vacation retreats and summer homes were built.
Pittsburgh industrialist Willard F. Rockwell built a summer home and hunting and fishing area on 60 acres of land in the Laurel Highlands that became the Nemacolin Trail Hunting Game Reserves by 1968.
The 12-suite Nemacolin Inn opened on the property in September 1970. An 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, and tennis courts were added two years later. The property was then sold to Cordelia Scaife May, who turned it into a private conference center.
However, the Rockwell family bought it back in December 1981, making it a public resort once again. Over the next six years, the property was transformed into a full-service resort. The Nemacolin Inn was upgraded to feature 26 rooms and two restaurants. Plus, an 18-hole course and pro shop, two tennis courts, two swimming pools, and a private airstrip were added.
Lumber king Joseph A. Hardy bought the Nemacolin property at auction in June 1987. Hardy and his daughter Maggie Hardy-Magerko have since transformed the property into a 2,000-acre, world-class resort. Hardy-Magerko took over full ownership in 2002.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort now features 335 luxurious rooms and suites spread out across a number of townhouses, private luxury homes, a boutique hotel, and a clubhouse.
The property also includes the Woodlands Spa, the five-star Lautrec Restaurant and 36 holes of golf on two championship courses.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin history
In January 2010, Nemacolin Woodlands Resort announced plans to apply for a resort gaming license with the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. It also announced it had reached a casino management and marketing agreement with Isle of Capri Casinos to manage the proposed casino.
Nemacolin Woodlands was granted the final Category 3 resort gaming license offered by the state in April 2011 and plans for Lady Luck Nemacolin were revealed.
The $50 million casino project was expected to include 600 slot machines, 28 table games, a casual dining restaurant, and lounge fully integrated into the guest experience at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.
The entire project was to be funded by Isle of Capri Casinos and complete within nine months.
The project was expected to boost Laurel Highlands tourism. Hardy-Magerko said her family had built the crown jewel of Pennsylvania tourism over the past 20 years. The addition of Lady Luck Casino was expected to give guests an important new amenity that would attract even more people to the resort.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin opened to the public on July 1, 2013. The final construction costs of converting a bowling alley and arcade at Nemacolin Woodlands into a casino was upwards of $60 million. The Category 3 resort casino now features 600 slot machines, 27 table games, and two restaurants: Otis at & Henry’s and Lone Wolf.
Isle of Capri called the property the flagship of the Lady Luck casino brand.
In 2017, Nevada-based Eldorado Resorts Inc. acquired Isle of Capri and all its gaming operations, including Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin revenues
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board unanimously voted to renew the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin’s Category 3 casino operator’s license in December 2016. The license was renewed for an additional three-year period.
At the time, it was revealed that Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin had generated $112 million in gross revenue from the play of slot machines and table games since it opened. Plus, it had paid more than $53 million in gaming tax revenue over that same three-and-a-half-year period.
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin posted $33,981,632 in gaming revenues in 2016. This included $29,326,854 in total slots revenue and $4,654,778 from table games. Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is the lowest grossing casino of the 12 operating in the state of Pennsylvania.
Casino games at Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin
With 600 slots, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin doesn’t offer as many titles as some of the state’s larger casinos. However, there is still a good variety featuring everything from penny and nickel slots to high-limit slots. Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is also committed to offering new slot games on a regular basis.
With close to 30 table games, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin has all the table game basics covered and more. The casino features blackjack with side bets, craps, roulette, criss-cross poker, four card poker, Mississippi stud, and let it ride games.
Unlike most Pennsylvania casinos, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin has no plans to offer an online casino.
About Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin owner Eldorado Resorts
Eldorado Resorts Inc. now owns and operates 19 casino and gaming properties in 10 states. This includes Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. The company’s casino brands include Lady Luck, Eldorado, and Isle of Capri.
Eldorado’s properties feature more than 20,000 slot machines and VLTs, more than 550 table games, and more than 6,500 hotel rooms.
In Pennsylvania, Eldorado also owns and operates the Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie. This property features 1,500 slot machines, more than 40 table games, and seasonal live thoroughbred racing.
Eldorado Resorts was founded in Reno, Nev., in 1973.
The Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin advantage
Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is not one of the state’s largest casino properties and it isn’t very close to any of the state’s major city centers. However, its advantage lies in not trying to be anything it is not. It is a Category 3 resort casino and it knows it.
Like the bowling alley and arcade it replaced, Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is simply an amenity for guests of the 2,000-acre, world-class Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and other vacationers in the Laurel Highlands region where it lies. Revenues may be low, but so are operating costs. It may not be to the same scale that Parx Casino or Sands Resort Bethlehem are, but Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin is certainly still a success regardless of that fact.
Guests of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort on a rainy summer weekend will certainly attest to that.