CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- About 1,000 judges and lawyers will descend on The Greenbrier for a judicial conference in June -- but they won't be gambling in the resort's new $80 million underground casino.
The Greenbrier will close the casino during the three-day conference at the request of the event's sponsor, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. It will be the only time the Casino Club has shut its doors -- other than Christmas Day -- since opening last July.
"It's an awkward thing," said Jim Justice, The Greenbrier's owner. "You're going to have guests here that won't be able to go to the casino. But it's an agreement we have with them, so that's what we're going to do, and we're delighted to have them."
Federal law doesn't restrict the Richmond, Va.-based federal appeals court from having a conference at a facility with a casino. But the group didn't want people to view its decision to hold the event at The Greenbrier as an endorsement of gambling, an executive with the 4th Circuit said Wednesday.
"The judicial conference of the 4th Circuit is a meeting mandated by statute and supported by public funds, and we do not want our use of The Greenbrier to be viewed as a tacit endorsement of gambling activities," said Caron Paniccia, assistant executive of administration for the appeals court.
The 4th Circuit has notified conference participants that The Greenbrier's casino will be closed during the event, Paniccia said.
The federal appeals court has held conferences at The Greenbrier in past years -- before the resort got its gambling license. The 4th Circuit puts on the event every two years, and usually rotates the conference between The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs and The Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va.
"They're a great group," Justice said Wednesday. "They pretty much fill up the entire hotel. They've been coming here for years, and we don't want to lose that tradition."
Justice acknowledged that closing the casino for three days -- especially with the 710-room hotel packed with guests -- would hurt the resort's bottom line.
"It will be a hit," he said. "That's all there is to it. But if you have guests that fill up the hotel, you appreciate that too."