|By Emilie Lounsberry and Craig R. McCoy,
The Philadelphia InquirerMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Oct. 11, 2007 - The opening of a slot-machine resort in the Poconos by a Scranton multimillionaire has been delayed while gaming regulators complete their final review of the casino.
Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the state Gaming Control Board, said yesterday that the board and businessman Louis A. DeNaples had agreed to delay the scheduled Monday opening of the $412 million Mount Airy Casino Resort.
The board needs more time to complete its final regulatory review, McGarvey said. He said the delay has nothing to do with a Dauphin County grand jury investigation involving DeNaples.
"These are separate issues," he said.
On Tuesday, lawyers for DeNaples asked the state Supreme Court to appoint a master to investigate alleged leaks to the news media.
Theodore John P. Chylack, an attorney with the law firm Sprague & Sprague, declined to comment. "I do not respond one way or another with respect to anything involving a grand jury," Chylack said yesterday in a telephone interview.
Last week, in declining to answer questions, lawyer Richard A. Sprague said it was "outrageous" to seek information about "a matter you believe is under seal."
"I believe you are violating the laws of Pennsylvania," he said.
The grand jury is examining whether DeNaples misled the gaming board during hearings to win his gaming license.
Last week, Chylack and Sprague asked the high court to shut down the investigation, contending it was politically inspired and little more than a fishing expedition, several sources said.
While it remained unclear whether that request will succeed, Justice Ronald D. Castille issued a stay blocking the testimony of several key witnesses until the full court can consider the matter.
Chylack also declined to comment on last week's request, or on the focus of the investigation. Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr., citing the secret nature of the grand jury, also declined to comment yesterday.
McGarvey said none of the five other slots casinos in Pennsylvania had opened on the originally scheduled dates. The delays ranged from a few days to several weeks, he said.
"We're looking at everything in the facility," McGarvey said. Among the issues under review, he said, are training, staffing, power systems, and the certainty that the Mount Airy facility's 2,500 slots communicate with the state's central casino computer system.
In addition, he said, board investigators are completing background checks on the people DeNaples named to a panel that will monitor the casino's finances.
After his original choices drew criticism, DeNaples proposed three new candidates late last month: Bradford S. Smith, a former New Jersey gaming regulator; Robert D. Peloquin, a former federal prosecutor; and Barbara A. Lang, a former casino auditor in New Jersey.
The fourth candidate is former federal prosecutor Sal Cognetti Jr.
Kevin Feeley, a spokesman for the casino, said DeNaples remained hopeful Mount Airy would open this month. McGarvey said he was unwilling to forecast a date, but said an opening by Oct. 31 was "certainly a possibility."
Contact staff writer Emilie Lounsberry at 215-854-4828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inquirer staff writers Mario F. Cattabiani and John Shiffman contributed to this article.
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