Developers of a resort casino in Oxford announced Tuesday that the operator of a Las Vegas casino has been chosen to handle operations at the site in western Maine.

Black Bear Development hired Silverton Casino, which runs a 90,000-square-foot casino seven miles from the Las Vegas strip, as a consultant to design the gaming floor, hire experienced managers, oversee advertising and branding, and set the menu at the resort’s restaurant. Terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.

“We vetted several very capable companies,” said Scott Smith, spokesman for Black Bear. “In the end, their expertise and their success in marketing a very similar rustic … casino lines up with our vision.”

Silverton Casino is owned by Ed Roski, chairman and chief executive officer of Majestic Realty Co., a large commercial real estate company based in California. Roski is a part-owner of basketball’s Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings hockey team.

Silverton is one of the few casinos in Las Vegas that aren’t owned by a gambling conglomerate such as MGM or Harrah’s Entertainment, said Craig Cavileer, president of Silverton.

This is the first time that Silverton Casino, which opened in 1994, has agreed to run operations at another gambling facility, he said. Black Bear and Silverton have been in negotiations since January or February.

Black Bear Development, which plans to open its casino next spring, is required by the state to hire a gaming company that meets several criteria, said Patrick Fleming, executive director of Maine’s Gambling Control Board. Once an application for Silverton Casino is filed, he will review the company’s financial records, do criminal background checks and interview top executives, Fleming said.

Black Bear and Silverton can work together pending approval from the state, but the casino cannot get a license to open before the investigation is complete, Fleming said.

Smith said state regulations meant that Black Bear Development had to go outside of Maine to find a company to help run the casino, but the casino will continue to be owned by Mainers.

“The competencies required by Maine, you have to leave Maine to secure,” he said.

Hollywood Slots in Bangor – the only racino or casino now operating in the state – is owned by Penn National Gaming, which operates or has a financial interest in 26 facilities across the country. Hollywood Slots offers slot machines, and will ask Penobscot County voters in November to allow it to add table games.

For months, casino opponents have speculated that Black Bear Development would not name an operator until after the votes Nov. 8 on two ballot questions that could expand gaming in Maine.

Question 2 proposes new racinos in Biddeford and Calais. Question 3 proposes a casino in downtown Lewiston, about 20 miles from the site in Oxford.

Dennis Bailey of Casinos No! criticized the selection of Silverton Casino, saying voters were told before they approved the casino in Oxford last year that it would be operated by Maine people.

“Throughout the campaign for the Oxford County casino, voters were told this one would be different, that it would be completely owned and operated by Maine people,” Bailey said in a prepared statement. “Now, we know that was just part of their scam.”

Smith said Silverton Casino will act as a consultant, not an owner. “The Maine ownership group is intimately involved and retains control,” he said.

When it comes to competition, Cavileer said he’s not concerned about November’s votes on other gambling facilities. In Las Vegas, he competes with nine other casinos within a three-mile radius.

“We can only respond and work hard to be competitive,” he said.

Cavileer said his company will help Black Bear hire an experienced staff to run the casino by searching nationwide for the best talent. He said the contract between the companies includes “incentives built in for us to perform.”

In Las Vegas, the Silverton Casino has more than 2,000 slot machines and 30 table games. It also has a 300-room hotel and a 117,000-gallon aquarium that features performing “mermaids.” Last month, the hotel drew local press coverage for what was believed to be the first-ever mermaid convention.

Smith said Black Bear will work with Silverton to decide how many slot machines and table games will operate in Oxford. The 27 acres off Route 26 have been cleared in preparation for a parking lot for 1,100 vehicles and a 65,000-square-foot casino with dining and a bar. On Friday, workers began pouring concrete.

“Folks will come to a really well-executed place to play slots, table games and have some fun,” Smith said.

MaineToday Media State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: [email protected]