The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

July 1, 2013

Lady Luck arrives: Nemacolin casino pays off with jobs

Randy Griffith

FARMINGTON — Walking down the red carpet, surrounded by photographers, Rosa Uphold of Confluence may have felt like the latest pop star Monday at Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin.

The Mae West Road woman won a Facebook contest to make the official first pull on a slot machine to open Pennsylvania’s newest casino.

The $60 million resort casino includes 600 slot machines, 28 table games and two restaurants.

A collaborative project of Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. of St. Louis and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort of Farmington, Fayette County, the new casino will serve as the model for future Lady Luck casinos, said Virginia McDowell, Isle’s president and CEO.

“We have been welcomed with open arms into Fayette County,” McDowell said. “The enthusiasm for this project has been remarkable, and we are proud to share Lady Luck with the community and Nemacolin Woodlands guests as well.”

Casino developers held several job fairs and training sessions to staff the new Lady Luck Casinos flagship and received about 2,500 applications for the 500 casino jobs, McDowell said.

Nemacolin added another 100 employees for the anticipated increase in business.

“We really had the pick of the best employees,” McDowell  said, adding that Lady Luck Casinos prides itself on helping its customers have an exciting experience.

Those employees include Robert Jobes of Smithfield, Fayette County, who sold his pizza shop and was looking for a full-time job when he heard about the casino opportunity.

“I thought, ‘That sounds like fun,’ ” Jobes said at one of the gaming tables. “I signed up for the class.”

Quality workers are key to the casino’s success, McDowell said.

“We focus on nailing a couple of things: great food, great service, great entertainment, great value in gaming and cold beer,” McDowell said.

Developing the new casino as the latest experience for Nemacolin’s guests tapped into the Fayette County resort’s reputation for customer service, McDowell added.

For Nemacolin founders Joseph Hardy III and his daughter, Nemacolin President and CEO Maggie Hardy Magerko, the casino fulfills a vision dating back almost to 1987, when Hardy bought most of the resort property at auction.

Hardy is also the founder of 84 Lumber Co.

“This is a dream come true, to see my dad be here to dedicate the casino,” Magerko said Monday during ribbon-cutting ceremonies.

Nemacolin’s expansion does not end with Lady Luck. Magerko announced the resort will soon break ground on a new 125-room hotel adjacent to the casino.

“It will be Semicolin, a more affordable way for guests to enjoy the whole Nemacolin experience,” Magerko said.

The sprawling Nemacolin Woodlands resort dates back to 1949, when Pittsburgh

industrialist Willard F. Rockwell of Rockwell International purchased 60 acres for a retreat.

Over the next several years, he added land and established Nemacolin Trails Hunting Reserve, a private game reserve.

Today’s four-season resort features two golf courses, a spa, ski resort, hunting clays, fitness center, off-road driving academy, pet spa, squash, croquet and hundreds of family activities, General Manager Chris Plummer said.

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