BERLIN – Ocean Downs officials this week announced a new general manager has been appointed to oversee slots operations at the historic racetrack near Berlin, but it remains uncertain just when the facility will be ready for business.
Ocean Enterprise 589 LLC, the licensee of the slots casino project at Ocean Downs, announced this week Joe Cavilla, a seasoned casino industry executive with over 25 years of experience, has been appointed general manager of the new slots operation under construction at the track. Cavilla’s appointment signals a move by the parent company to hire from within.
He has served in a variety of senior-level positions including executive director of slot operations at Delaware Park Racetrack and Slots, another facility owned and operated by William Rickman, Jr. Cavilla was also the director of slot operations at the Showboat Casino Hotel in Atlantic City.
“We are extremely delighted to have Joe join our team and we are confident in Joe’s ability to oversee the successful development and operation of our casino,” said William Fasy, chief operating officer of Ocean Enterprise 589 LLC.
After the Maryland Video Lottery Location Commission awarded the first slots license in the state to Ocean Downs last September, a rather ambitious plan to open the facility by Memorial Day weekend of this year was announced. However, the start date was moved back indefinitely last December when a preliminary investigation of the old clubhouse area, expected to house the first 600 slot machines, revealed a handful of problems with asbestos and the structural steel of the old facility.
After those obstacles were overcome, demolition of the old grandstand at Ocean Downs began in January, but a new target date for the implementation of slot machines at the historic racetrack remains uncertain. Fasy said in January the asbestos and structural steel issues set the project back about two months.
This week, however, Ocean Enterprise 589 LLC Executive Vice President Andrew Gentile said the casino is still expected to open later this year although a specific date for the opening has not yet been determined.
The video lottery commission in September voted unanimously to approve track owner William Rickman, Jr.’s application for one of five slots licenses in the state with a plan for 800 machines in the short term with the potential to expand to as many as 1,500 in the future. The approval set in motion an ambitious plan to convert the existing 34,000-square-foot grandstand at the track into a gaming facility to accommodate 600 machines at first with an additional 200 added within a year of the casino’s opening.
For his part, Cavilla said the planned $45 million project will complement the live racing and simulcasting currently offered at Ocean Downs and become an integral part of the community.
“We are committed to offering our guests a fun and entertaining gaming experience,” he said. “We look forward to developing a strong and cooperative relationship with the local community and establishing a successful video lottery operation.”