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by Mark Gruetze

Mark Gruetze writes the biweekly "Player's Advantage" gambling column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in Pennsylvania. His columns are online at He has been a skilled recreational player for more than 30 years, focusing on blackjack, video poker, and poker. E-Mail questions or comments to

Note: This report is based on an April 2016 visit.

Lady Luck Nemacolin (4067 National Pike, Farmington, PA, 15437; GPS coordinates: 39 47' 41.1504'' N; 79 32' 23.298'' W)

The beauty of Lady Luck Nemacolin is not so much the casino itself as the setting.

It's nestled in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania, on the grounds of the Nemacolin Resort ( . The 2,000-acre resort, recently used as a setting for an episode of "The Bachelorette," has a hotel and a restaurant that have received simultaneous five-diamond ratings from AAA and five-star ratings from Forbes. Nearby attractions include three houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, highlighted by Fallingwater, billed as the most famous home in America; Ohiopyle State Park, which features waterfalls, natural waterslides and the busiest section of whitewater in the Eastern states; and Fort Necessity, site of the first battle of the French and Indian War, where a young George Washington took command of a British regiment but wound up surrendering to the French. About an hour away is the Flight 93 National Memorial, honoring the passengers who fought back against 9/11 hijackers before their United Airlines jet crashed near Shanksville, Pa.

Lady Luck, operated by Isle of Capri Casinos, is about 70 miles from Pittsburgh. The casino is a mile from the resort's main entrance, and it's accessible by private vehicle or a resort shuttle. It's one of the state's two resort casinos, meaning it may not have more than 600 slot machines or 50 table games. That's designed to minimize competition with any of Pennsylvania's 10 full-fledged casinos. In addition to keeping the casino relatively small, the license specifies that casino patrons must spend at least $10 each on the grounds to enter. A desk near the entrance sells $10 gift cards and issues a time-stamped pass that must be shown to a security guard before entering the gaming area. I used mine to buy lunch at one of the two dining spots inside the casino.

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