HARRISBURG - The owner of Mount Airy Casino Resort may now reenter his property and exert some influence over the struggling business after state gambling regulators yesterday lifted a suspension of his casino license.
The unanimous vote by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board came seven weeks after Dauphin County authorities dropped perjury charges against Louis A. DeNaples.
"Just the feeling of the owner coming back onto the property is going to lift the burden that's been on this property for a year and a half," said George Toth, chief executive officer of the Northeastern Pennsylvania casino.
The gaming board limited DeNaples' control over the casino, a nod to a concession DeNaples made as part of an agreement with Dauphin County District Attorney Edward Marsico to drop the charges in April.
DeNaples may give advice and back the facility financially, but legal control rests with Toth and the executive team, which includes DeNaples' daughter Lisa. DeNaples also cannot profit from or receive compensation from the casino.
Lisa DeNaples issued a statement welcoming her father back.
"Although he has been physically absent from us, his spirit never left our hearts and minds here at Mount Airy," she said. "Having him back among us is invaluable."
The next step for DeNaples is to undergo a background investigation that is required annually of all casino owners and wait at least several more months to see whether the gaming board will approve his plan to transfer the casino's ownership to his children.
That background investigation may include a review of grand-jury testimony and evidence that led to the perjury charges, although a judge has not decided whether to allow gaming board investigators access to the materials.
Louis DeNaples' license was suspended in February 2008 after he was accused of lying to the gaming board about whether he had connections to organized crime. DeNaples has maintained his innocence.
The gaming board appointed former Shippensburg University president Anthony F. Ceddia to oversee the establishment while DeNaples' license was suspended. Ceddia will continue to observe Mount Airy's operations and report to the gaming board.