Monday, June 30, 2008

Seminole Tribe Adds Table Games To Florida Casino

Feather News

The Seminole Tribe's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, located in Hollywood, Florida dealt its first hand of blackjack last Sunday, 17 years after the Tribe first began seeking table games.

The Seminoles signed a gaming compact with Florida Governor Charlie Crist in November 2007 and opened a total of 71 table games last weekend. Fifty-five of the tables are for blackjack and the rest of the games are pai gow, mini-baccarat, Let It Ride and Three Card Poker.

The Seminoles held a recruitment drive in the Hartford Convention Center earlier this year, saying they needed to hire 3,650 dealers for its Florida casinos.

The Mohegan Tribe and Foxwoods combined employee about 4,700 dealers.

The Seminole Tribe, which generated $1.4 billion in 2006 gaming revenues in Florida, bought the Hard Rock International hotel and restaurant chain for $965 million in 2006 and last month announced a partnership with the New York Yankees to build a chain of steak houses. The first steak restaurant will open in the new Yankee stadium in Bronx, NY, where the Seminoles will also open a Hard Rock restaurant.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Tribe's WNBA Basketball Team Loses to Phoenix

Feather News

Phoenix beat the Connecticut Sun on Sunday by a score of 87-80 and before a crowd of 9,518 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Foxwoods To Lay Off Less Than 200 Employees

Feather News

Foxwoods casino will lay off less than 200 middle-management and hourly employees, citing rising gas and food prices and the result of a review conducted by Foxwoods' interim President Barry Cregan.

The reduction will amount to about 1% of the total workforce at Foxwoods, according to the latest statements made by Foxwoods officials.

Cregan said, "This has been a difficult week for all of us. It is always sad to see fellow employees lose their jobs. As organizations develop, they often grow more than necessary during a sustained period of economic success."

Mohegan Sun officials said their plan is to reduce the casino workforce through attrition, meaning that when certain employees leave their job, the casino would not fill the position with a replacement.

The Foxwoods' laid-off workers will be paid two weeks severance pay for each year they were employed, up to 13 years, and health benefits.

The Mashantucket Pequot tribal government recently laid off 170 out of approximately 900 tribal government employees in a move to cut the cost of its government.

In related news, dealers at Foxwoods casino filed a complaint with the tribal gaming commission over a change in the way tips are distributed by creating separate tip pools at Foxwoods and the newly-opened MGM Grand at Foxwoods casino, both located on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation.

Dealers who voted to join the United Auto Workers union last November said that the new changes in the tip pool will harm dealers at Foxwoods if high-stake table games are moved to the MGM Grand casino run by the tribe next door to Foxwoods.

Since the November dealer's vote at Foxwoods, the UAW has been unable to negotiate with casino management.

Similarly, in Atlantic City, the UAW won representation to unionize dealers at 4 casinos in Atlantic City but cannot get casino management to sit down and negotiate with them. The UAW won votes at Trump Plaza, Caesars, the Tropicana Casino and Bally's Atlantic City. The UAW lost elections to organize dealers at Trump Marina Hotel Casino and the Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort.

About 3,000 newly-unionized casino employees held a rally last Saturday in Atlantic City to protest the stalled talks between the casinos and the UAW.

Tribe's WNBA Basketball Team Beats Atlanta

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribe's Connecticut Sun basketball team beat Atlanta Friday night by a score of 109-101 before a crowd of 7,612 at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Atlanta set a league record after it lost all fourteen games it has played since the start of the season.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tribe's WNBA Basketball Team Loses To Detroit: Now In Tie For First Place In Conference

Feather News

The Tribe's WNBA basketball team, the Connnecticut Sun, lost to Detroit last night, leaving both teams tied for first place in the Eastern Conference. Both teams are 11-4 for the season.

Last night, Detroit beat the Connecticut Sun 70-61 before a crowd of 8,636 at Detroit's Palace of Auburn Hills. Two nights earlier, The Connecticut Sun beat Detroit at the Mohegan Sun Arena by a score of 85-68.

The Connecticut Sun play Atlanta tonight in the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Rhode Island's Twin River Racetrack-Slot Parlor Asks For State Relief

Feather News

The Twin River racetrack-slot parlor in Lincoln, R.I., has offered the state a one-time payment that exceeds a half-billion dollars in exchange for the state slashing its tax on slot machine revenue.

A Twin River spokeswoman said if the state doesn't accept the offer, then Twin River would have to consider bankruptcy, according to the Boston Globe.

Twin River is offering to pay the state a one-time sum of $560 million for the state to cut its tax on slot machine revenue from 61% to 25%.

Twin River's owners include Len Wolman and Sol Kerzner, two of the partners that built and managed the Mohegan Sun casino, which opened in 1996. Both Wolman and Kerzner are also working with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to build a $1 billion casino in Massachusetts under the same federal Indian gaming law which allowed the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes to operate casinos on reservation land.

Kansas Court Upholds Casino Law

Feather News

The Kansas Supreme Court today upheld the constitutionality of a 2007 expanded gambling law that allows the state to go forward with its plan to have four large casinos built.

At issue was the Kansas Constitution's requirement that gambling be owned and operated by the state. The state says its control over the distribution of casino revenues and other oversight responsibilities satisfies the ownership requirement.

The court noted the state "will receive gambling revenue, own casino software, monitor electronic games and have the authority to enter into management contracts and supervise casino managers."

Casino developers should own the casino buildings, equipment and will operate the casinos but the Supreme Court case was decided after casino developers signed agreements with the state.

Supreme Court Justice Eric S. Rosen wrotej, "It is unnecessary that the state own the physical plant associated with the lottery. It suffices that the state own the game, or the scheme, or the enterprise. Such a definition is consistent with a standard review favoring the constitutionality of the (law)."

The Mohegan Tribe has partnered with Kansas City-based RED Development and Olympia Gaming of Las Vegas in proposing a $792 million casino in the Wyandotte-Kansas City region of the state. Five groups have submitted a total of six proposals for a casino in Wyandotte-Kansas City, including the group in which Mohegan is a partner.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe recently pulled out of negotiations for a casino in another region of Kansas called Sumner County.

Decisions on the winning proposals are expected to be made in September.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Photo: Mohegan Reservation Boundary

New York Governor And Lawmakers Help With Catskills Mega-Resort

By Ken Davison
Feather News

Monday was the New York legislature’s last day of its regular session this year and the Mohegan Tribe heard nothing of its pending bid to operate a VLT slot parlor in New York City but did learn of a last minute agreement struck between Governor David Paterson and lawmakers that seeks to create a mega-resort in the Catskill Mountains, about 70 miles from the Tribe’s Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor in Pennsylvania.

In the agreement that Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno calls “one of the largest development projects in all of upstate New York,” the Monticello Raceway would be moved to the site of a formerly renowned Catskills hotel and be re-made into a mega-resort that would include a 750-room hotel and 4,000 VLT slot machines.

Empire Resorts, which operates the Monticello Racetrack, will partner with Concord Associates. The Monticello Raceway currently operates 1,500 VLT slot machines but another 2,500 would be added under a plan that would move the racetrack two miles away to the 160-acre site of the former Concord Hotel.

The bill reduces the state’s take on VLT slot revenues generated at the Catskills resort. The state will reportedly cut the tax rate by over half, from 58% to 25%, upon the resort achieving certain economic development benchmarks, such as job creation.

Casinos have been touted as a way to lure tourists back to the once-popular Catskill Mountains but those plans have almost entirely evaporated. In January, the U.S. Department of the Interior denied two proposed Indian casinos in the Catskill Mountains. The Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans of Wisconsin and the St. Regis Mohawks were told that their proposed Catskills casinos were too far away from their reservations.

The federal decision against the two tribe's casinos in the Catskills as well as federal denials for other off-reservation Indian casino proposals across the country was a blow to the Mohegan's own diversification efforts, in particular a partnership with the Menominee Tribe that hopes to build an off-reservation casino in Wisconsin.

Although the selection of a builder-operator of a VLT slot parlor at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens was not made before lawmakers left until the next regular session in January, the governor or legislative leaders can call lawmakers back into session for urgent business and likely would for the VLT slot parlor at Aqueduct.

The road to the Aqueduct VLT franchise began last summer when then-Governor Eliot Spitzer requested proposals for an operator of three N.Y. racetracks and VLT slot parlors at two of them – Aqueduct and Belmont racetracks. The entity that has ran those racetracks for the past half-century was selected to continue running them for the next 25 years and it was also decided to request new proposals to build and operate the VLT slot parlors. It was also decided that a VLT slot parlor would be added only at the Aqueduct Racetrack and not Belmont, also in Queens.

Governor Spitzer’s decision to select the New York Racing Association to continue operating the three racetracks infuriated Capital Play, the group in which the Mohegans are a partner, which lost in their bid for the racetrack franchise. Capital Play aired television commercials critical of the governor and the New York Racing Association.

Governor Spitzer resigned, which further delayed a decision on the builder-operator of the VLT slot parlor but perhaps boosting Capital Play’s shot at the 30-year VLT slot parlor franchise. Capital Play, comprised of a group of Australian horse racing executives, the Mohegan Tribe and two other companies are competing against two other groups for the Aqueduct VLT slot parlor franchise.

The Seminole Tribe, through its Hard Rock Entertainment subsidiary, is partnering with SL Green Realty Corporation and the third group is Delaware North, which currently operates New York racetracks with VLT slot parlors.

Both SL Green and Capital Play issued press releases on the legislature’s final day in regular session last Monday. SL Green’s press release stated that it secured the support of the New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council and the Building and Construction Trades Council. Both Trades Councils also appeared in Capital Play’s press release later that day.

New York Racing Association, the winner of the racetrack franchise, said he would like the VLT slot parlor franchise to be awarded to either The Seminoles or Delaware North but not Capital Play.

A key reason why New York Racing Association was awarded the franchise to run the three racetracks was largely due to their ownership claims on the land at all three racetracks.

Last week, current Governor David Paterson said more time was needed for background checks and further review of the financial projections of the three competing proposals before a selection could be made.

Notes on diversification timeline: Mohegans made announcement to patner with Menominee Tribe for casino in Wisconsin on January 7, 2004. The intent to purchase Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania was announced by the Mohegans on October 15, 2004.

Slots Down, Table Games Up In Atlantic City For Month Of May

Feather News

Atlantic City casinos reported a drop of 1.5% in slot revenues while table game revenue increased 9.5% in May, when compared to the same month last year.

The 11 Atlantic City casinos recorded $289.6 million in slot machines revenue and $125.7 million in table game revenue in May.

May had one more Friday and Saturday, busy days for casinos, than last year. "The calendar was on our side this month, but we'll take it," said Larry Mullin, president of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

Economic Downturn Viewed To Harm Las Vegas Resort Earnings For At Least Another Year

Feather News

The Wall Street bond rating firm Moody's Investors Service issued a report that said the economic current downturn will be sharper than the period that followed the World Trade Center attack in 2001 and will further dampen earnings for the next 12 to 18 months.

"Las Vegas largely sidestepped trouble by using price discounts to lure skittish travelers," the report said. "Now, with consumers' anxieties centered on their economic well-being, that strategy is unlikely to be as effective. Las Vegas operators are preparing for an extended period of weak demand will have to turn to other levers, such as reduced capital spending or less aggressive financial policies, to hold up through the next year or more."

The report highlighted the popularity of Las Vegas as a destination resort city, "In a nation where vacations are considered a virtual birthright, it seems inevitable that Las Vegas will remain high on the list of tourism hot spots."

Tribe’s WNBA Basketball Team Beats Detroit

Feather News

The Tribe's Connecticut Sun basketball team beat Detroit tonight by a score of 85-68. Attendance at the Mohegan Sun Arena was reported to be 7,501.

Monday, June 23, 2008

New York Legislators May Delay Award Of Aqueduct VLT Slot Machine Franchise

Feather News

Today is the last day of New York's current legislative session but it appears that officials are not yet ready to select the group that will build and manage a 4,500-machine VLT slot parlor at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, N.Y.

Among the three groups bidding to build and manage the VLT slot parlor at the racetrack is the Mohegan Tribe, through its partnership with Australian-based Capital Play and other entities. The Seminole Tribe, through its Hard Rock Entertainment subsidiary, is partnering with SL Green Realty Corporation and the other group consists of Delaware North, which runs other racetrack-VLT slot parlors in the state.

Although a decision was expected by today, officials for N.Y. Governor David Paterson said a decision is unlikely today "because background checks are still being done on the bidders and the state is still poring over the three financial plans."

Archaeology Course Begins Today

Feather News

A unique opportunity exists for tribal members to study archaeology on the Mohegan Reservation and even receive college credits from a state university for the course.

Tribal members and non-tribal students will learn side-by-side in a six-week course that will include time spent both in the classroom and out in the field on the Mohegan Reservation. In its 14th year, this year’s field portion of the course will include excavating the foundation of a Mohegan home that possibly dates back to just before the Revolutionary War and a second site believed to be occupied by Mohegans during the middle of the 18th century.

What better way to get a feel for how your ancestors lived and how Mohegans evolved over time. The six-week course is taught by the Mohegan Tribe’s Archaeologist, Dr. Jeff Bendremer. Students will also interact with the Tribe’s dedicated archaeology staff, an informed group that has spent much time excavating Mohegan sites and studying the Tribe’s history. The class begins on June 23rd and ends on August 4th.

The exciting news for Mohegans is that there may still be room in the course for new students. Your participation will not only be worth 6 college credits from Eastern Connecticut State University – if you choose - but will contribute to the Tribe’s efforts to better understand Mohegan life-ways, trade, warfare, belief systems, subsistence and economics.

You will also have the opportunity to examine many artifacts recovered from past excavations, including pottery, pipes, wampum beads and projectile points (arrowheads). Part of this collection has come from archaeologists who have dug on Mohegan homelands a half-century ago and earlier. Also recovered by the Tribe recently are letters sent by some of these archaeologists to each other and to museum officials that describe Mohegan artifacts they came across or were looking for.

“Besides learning excavation techniques and the broad expanse of Mohegan history, the program concentrates on exploring the relationships between archaeologists and Native Americans, both past and present, through a Native American lecture series. Professionals, scholars and dignitaries from mostly local tribes speak to the students about their various areas of expertise,” the course description states.

This year’s course will mark the 14th year of what is called the Eastern Connecticut State University Archaeological Field School, making it one of the oldest field collaborations with an Indian tribal government, according to the Tribe. Each project is authorized by the Mohegan Council of Elders and operates under the supervision of the Mohegan Cultural and Community Programs Department.

Dr. Bendremer worked on the Mohegan Reservation as a volunteer for five years, beginning in 1994, and was hired by the tribe in 1999. Before that, Dr. Bendremer had worked with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and has participated in numerous excavations of Indian sites in Connecticut. Tribal and non-tribal archaeologists that are part of the Mohegan archaeology department’s staff will impart their knowledge of the Mohegan culture and experiences digging at various sites on the Reservation.

The course starts today so call 1-800-MOHEGAN this morning and ask for Dr. Jeff Bendremer to find out how to sign up or call Jeff another time to find out about other archaeology courses and workshops in the future.

While students learn they are also contributing to the Tribe’s need for manpower in excavating sites on the Reservation.


Feather News

In a June 9 article entitled “Wusmissing,” the fiscal year 2007 cost of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission’s corporate department responsible for business diversification was incorrect. The cost for the “corporate department,” as it is labeled in MTGA’s financial statements, was $10.6 million in fiscal year 2007. Editor’s Note: The rate of spending on the “corporate” diversification department has doubled since September: The cost for the “corporate” department for the first six months alone of the current fiscal year (October through March) was $11.2 million.

An early version of another June 9th article, entitled “Tribe’s Diversification Briefing,” said that the Tribe has not publically stated the cumulative cost of the Tribe’s attempt to build and manage a casino in partnership with the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin. Since that article, we’ve been made aware of a February 22, 2008 article in the Milwaukee Business Journal in which Leo Chupaska, MTGA’s Chief Financial Officer, is quoted as saying the Tribe has so far spent $9 million on the casino project in Wisconsin. The article also went on to say, “According to a regulatory filing last week … reduced the value of future reimbursable development costs by $2.7 million and reduced the value of the development rights, valued at $3.7 million when the tribe acquired the rights last year from Kenosha businessman Dennis Troha, by $840,000. The writedown came after the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs in January rejected 11 applications from Indian tribes across the country to have non-reservation land taken into federal trust for the purpose of developing an Indian casino.”

Both articles have been updated to reflect these corrections.

Indian Gaming Revenues Grew 5% Last Year Across The Country

Feather News

A report issued by the National Indian Gaming Commission last week said that revenue at the nation's Indian casinos grew 5 percent in 2007, to $26 billion or just over double the $12.9 billion gambled at casinos in Nevada. Indian gaming was approved by the federal government in 1988 and the study was based on 382 Indian gaming establishments.

Revenues at Mohegan Sun on the Mohegan Reservation were $1.56 billion in fiscal year 2007. Gaming revenue at Mohegan Sun made up $1.29 billion of this figure while the rest of the revenue came from hotel, entertainment, retail and food and beverage sales.

Revenues are income before the deduction of expenses. Gaming revenues are based upon the amount wagered by customers less the amount paid out to customers: in other words, the amount lost by customers.

Transportation Problems Plague Elders' Trips To Games

Feather News

Each summer, Tribal elders living at the Fort Hill Elder Housing Building attend two or three minor league baseball games at Dodd Stadium in Norwich.

A bus picks them up at Fort Hill and brings them to the stadium. Two weeks ago, the Norwich Defenders played the Trenton Thunder. The Norwich Defenders is a farm team of the San Francisco Giants and plays their home games in Norwich’s Dodd Stadium. The bus arranged by the Tribe brings elders to the games before they start but, unfortunately, the bus leaves Dodd Stadium to return back to Fort Hill before the games are over.

Sources tell us that the bus always leaves before the games are over but the elders have learned to live with it.

Two weeks ago, the Norwich Defenders were tied with the Trenton Thunder, a New York Yankee farm team, going into the ninth inning. The score was 6-6 and the bus once again made a home run - back to the elder housing building at Fort Hill before the game was over.

Despite calls made to the Tribe, the Feather News couldn’t find out much about why there is consistently a logistical problem with the bus schedule when leaving the games. We did, however, find out the final score for those who didn’t see the end of the game. The Defenders lost to Trenton by a score of 9-6.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Tribes In The Media: Massachusetts Tribe Building Long Houses

In the Tribes In The Media series, we are re-publishing an article on the Mashpee Wampanoag's construction of long-houses.

Building on an ancient tradition
Lyndeborough ash trees harvested for construction of Wampanoag long house

By Jessie Salisbury
The Cabinet
June 20, 2008

LYNDEBOROUGH — The thick bark from some of the large ash trees north of Lyndeborough’s mountains is now at the tribal lands of the Mashpee Wampanog on Cape Cod, part of a traditionally built long house for tribal use. The removal of the bark was done mostly in the traditional way by members of the tribe during a recent weekend.

The trees are owned by Hollis Proctor, who donated the bark to the project.

The Wampanoag are passing along their cultural traditions to the younger generation, something with which Proctor is familiar — he does things the way his father, Charlie Proctor, did them.

The Wampanoags and Proctor got together when Proctor and his wife Joyce visited Plimoth Plantation where they met Darius Coombs, the Plantation program director.

“We got to talking and I asked a lot of questions about the long house,” Proctor said. “How did they build it, what materials did they use, where did they get them.”

The outside of the huts is ash bark, and the Mashpee are having problems locating trees large enough, Coombs told him.

“I said, I have ash trees,” Proctor said, “and told them I was going to cut them for firewood.”

Coombs made the trip to Lyndeborough, found the trees were what they were seeking, and on a recent weekend a crew arrived to strip the bark in the traditional way … at least mostly. Proctor had cut the trees with a chain saw and the saw was used to make the first scoring on the log, cutting a groove through the bark on the top of the log.

Robert Peters, Sr., director of the Men’z Wetu Project (the Men’s House) conceded that his ancestors would have used chainsaws if they had had them. But the remainder of the process was traditional and done by hand.

Peters and his son, Robert, Jr., assisted by three other young men, interns on the project, used heavy chisels to gradually loosen the bark, moving along the groove, and then carefully worked it free of the log until it would be removed in one piece.

The bark is over an inch thick and quite heavy.

Peters said the bark can only be removed in the spring while the sap is rising. Later it adheres to the center of the trunk.

It also has to be flattened with weights and kept wet until it can be put onto the hut, usually a matter of days.

There was ceremony involved in the process. One man made a water drum, a small hand-held instrument of wood with a leather cover and filled with water from the site of the trees. During the removal of the bark he played the drum and chanted.

“It is done to honor the spirit of the trees,” Coombs said. “The drum carries a spirit with it.”

The new long house, which is a structure with a round roof much like a Quonset hut, is being constructed on tribal lands in Mashpee, Mass., Coombs said. It measures 20 by 14 feet and is 10 feet high at the center. When it is completed it will be used for social and cultural events, ceremonies and meetings.

Coombs said the frame had already been constructed of white cedar saplings, bent while fresh into the desired shape and lashed with strips of cedar bark. The ends of the frame pieces are charred in a campfire before being driven into the ground, a process which hardens and preserves them. A structure will last about 10 years, Coombs said. It takes several weeks to construct the frame.

“We are trying to keep the tradition alive among the young,” he added. “We might have a museum (on tribal lands) one day and these interns will be the instructors.”

Proctor donated the tree bark to the tribe.

“For me, it’s a win-win situation,” he said. “This doesn’t damage the logs and the peeled logs will last a couple of years, until somebody wants the lumber. I get the tops for firewood. I was going to cut the trees anyway, and I don’t really use the bark.”

Besides, he added, “that is the old way of doing things, bartering. I swap time and commodities with my neighbors. No money gets exchanged.”

Proctor owns and operates a small sawmill, doing small projects for area residents. He also has a small engine repair business and a woodworking shop.

Of the bark stripping, he said, “It’s very educational.”

He said he and his wife have been invited to Maspee for July 4 celebrations.

“We’ll see the bark installed,” he said.

Tribe's WNBA Basketball Team Still Leads Conference

Feather News

The Mohegan's Connecticut Sun basketball team won three games and lost two after the end of their road trip but it was enough for the Connecticut Sun to remain at the top of the conference.

The Connectict Sun's 72-56 victory last night at Sacramento leaves them a half-game in front of Detroit in the Eastern Conference standings. The Connecticut Sun's next two games are against Detroit. The first game is Tuesday evening at the Mohegan Sun Arena and the second game is Thursday at Detroit.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Council Of Elders Election Update

Feather News

New packets will be mailed to the 1,091 Mohegan adults eligible to vote in the upcoming Council of Elders election.

According to a letter prepared by the Election Committee and dated June 18, it has been "decided to re-issue the candidates’ resumes and official ballot. Your previous materials including your ballot are VOIDED, and will not be counted. Please discard any materials you have received and use the new balloting materials as reference when voting. The new official ballot will be of a different color and we expect to mail it out with the new voting package on or about June 25th."

According to the election committee, each candidate's resume will be included on a separate page in the upcoming mailing.

"The Election Committee apologizes to the membership about any confusion or inconvenience. However, not all of the recently mailed ballot packages were the same and this could have affected some of the candidates. That was unacceptable to us because we feel every candidate and voter must be treated equally."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pocono Downs Expansion Set To Open July 17th

Feather News

The $208 million Phase II expansion at the Tribe's Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor in Pennsylvania is scheduled to hold a grand-opening ceremony on July 17, according to a Tuesday press release. The new expansion space will include 2,500 machines while dining, drinking and retail outlets will also be included in the July opening. Pennsylvania regulators will ultimately approve the facility's opening date once successful test runs are performed.

Currently, 1,203 slot machines are operating in the Pocono Downs' Phase I slot parlor, which opened in November 2006. Some of these existing slot machines may be transferred to the Pocono Downs' Phase II (expansion) gaming floor that is to open in July, according to earlier plans. It is hoped that with additional slot machines, the Tribe's Pocono Downs can turn its "negative cash flow" situation around.

Just as the Wolf Den is at the center of the Mohegan Sun's Earth Casino in Connecticut, so will be a bar called "Sunburst Bar" and located in the center of the Pocono Downs gaming floor that is to open in July. Another bar, Shakers, "will shake things up" with live music and, also according to Tuesday's press release, will feature, "stunning bartenders who serve drinks and periodically get up on the
bar to dance."

The Tribe, through MTGA, entered into a purchase agreement for the Pocono Downs property in August 2004. Estimated costs have since run to $750 million including the purchase and construction improvements, Pennsylvania gaming license fee, its share of MTGA's "corporate" diversification expenses and the accumulated losses since it was first purchased.

The nearest competition to the Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor is Mount Airy Casino, which opened about a year after the Pocono Downs opened. Mount Airy is 20 miles away as the crow flies and 40 miles by car on roads that wind through the Pocono Mountains.

Although additional slot machines should certainly help Pocono Downs, increased competition is also on the horizon. Last October, the Mount Airy Resort's slot parlor opened 20 miles away, as the crow flies, but now two other smaller slot parlors in the Poconos are currently being considered for gaming licenses by the state's gaming board while a massive slot parlor about 70 miles away, called Sands Bethworks and located in Bethlehem,Pa., is sheduled to open in June 2009.

Although up to two additional slot parlors with 500 slot machines as their maximum limit under the law could open soon in the Poconos, Sands Bethworks is slated to cost $800 million and include a 300-room hotel and 3,000 slot machines, among other amenities that include a 3,800-person capacity concert/event center, a retail mall that will house 200,000 square feet of retail shopping and 8 restaurants. The number of slot machines would be increased to 5,000 machines after its first six months, according to Las Vegas Sands' CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Although Adelson is the chief executive, he is also known for paying for his meals eaten at the casinos owned by Las Vegas Sands.

Mount Airy is a slot parlor with about 2,500 machines and has a 188-room hotel. Mount Airy cost $412 million to build and is one of five stand-alone slot parlors that will open in Pennsylvania (The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and its partners will have another stand-alone casino in the much-coveted Philadelphia location).

Pictures of the two slot parlors in the Pocono Mountains follow this article on the Feather News.

Photo: Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs In Pennsylvania

Photo: Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs In Pennsylvania

Photo: Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs In Pennsylvania

Photo: Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs In Pennsylvania

Photo: The Tribe's Current Competition In The Poconos: Mount Airy Casino

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Photo: The Tribe's Current Competition In The Poconos: Mount Airy Casino

Photo: Tribe's Current Competition In The Poconos: Mount Airy Casino

Photo: The Tribe's Current Competition In The Poconos: Mount Airy Casino

Photo: The Tribe's Current Competition In The Poconos: Mount Airy Casino

Council Of Elders Election Mailing Expected To Be Replaced

Feather News

The Council of Elders' election mailing received by tribal members this week may be replaced by a new mailing which is expected to include the resumes of candidates (on separate pages) but also a new ballot. The new ballot could be of a different color than the first ballot.

The new mailing is expected to go out by June 25 and the date in which ballots are to be returned could be extended from July 11 to July 18 under the new plan. We are waiting for confirmation from the election committee on the above changes.

Standards of conduct were previously sent out to all candidates by the Election Committee. In it candidates were told to refrain from stating mistruths or rumors about opposing candidates, emphasize truthfully their respective qualifications for office, refrain from encouraging their supporters to conduct smear campaigns against rival candidates and work to conduct their campaigns at the highest ethical standards of behavior.

The Tribe In The Media: Tantaquidgeon Museum Re-opens

The Tribe In The Media series re-publishes below a recent article which appeared in Indian Country Today regarding the re-opening of the Tantaquidgeon Musueum. A ceremony marking the re-opening will be held today.

Facility director named medicine woman

By Gale Courey Toensing
Indian Country Today
June 11, 2008

UNCASVILLE, Conn. - Those who like their museums up close, personal and traditional will welcome the news that the Mohegan Tribe's newly refurbished Tantaquidgeon Museum has re-opened.

The museum holds an exquisite collection of objects documenting the tribe's existence from time immemorial to the present, including stone tools and weapons, artifacts, utensils, photographs, personal items, baskets, clothing, artwork and more, as well as a collection of artifacts from southwestern Plains Indians.

The collection is housed in a fieldstone building with a warm interior of wood beams and panels that was built during the Great Depression by John Tantaquidgeon, former Mohegan chief, and his son, Harold, both of whom were stone masons. The museum is the oldest American Indian-owned and operated museum in the country.

Its re-opening coincides with the appointment of Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, the museum director, to the position of medicine woman.

Zobel is the grand-niece of the iconic Gladys Tantaquidgeon, the tribe's former medicine woman, revered elder and culture keeper, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2005. She was John Tantaquidgeon's daughter.

In naming Zobel medicine woman, the council of elders stated in part that ''Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel is a person whose traditional wisdom, knowledge and advice are sought for improving and preserving the spiritual, physical and emotional health of individual tribal members and for promoting harmony and well-being within the tribe.''

Zobel said her role is spiritual and traditional, but does not include the practice of traditional plant medicine.

Gladys Tantaquidgeon mentored Zobel since her childhood days growing up in the Mohegan Hills section of Uncasville, which is named after a 17th century Mohegan sachem.

''Our last hereditary sachem was the owner of that little basket right there - Noah Uncas,'' Zobel told a visitor.

As part of her training under Gladys Tantaquidgeon, Zobel learned the tribe's history and traditions; and she is the tribal historian in addition to her new title of medicine woman. Zobel has so absorbed Mohegan history and the ancestors who peopled it that in telling their stories, Zobel makes them come alive as if all of time is happening in the present.

''There's a story about him and his wife that's kind of interesting. They were so destitute they were selling baskets and staying in people's barns. And so for a night in a barn and some bread they sold this basket to a woman and it became a family legend in her family because she wrote up the whole story,'' she said.

''There were betel nuts inside the basket. They're from Polynesia, but Indians around here used them because they gave a good stain, an ochre stain. They must have gotten them through trade, because we were very big into whaling. Anyway, so there were betel nuts and also a little dog tag and a handle in the basket and the woman [who gave the basket back to the tribe] said, 'You know, my dog chewed off this handle that was on here, and here's the handle, and here's the dog tag.'

''So she was really the keeper of this information and it's all inside this little basket, but that's the only thing we have from Noah Uncas, our last hereditary sachem, because things were very bad for us back then. He died in 1848.''

Mohegan chiefs have been elected since then.

The state of Connecticut outlawed sachems in 1768 as part of its policy to eliminate indigenous peoples by quashing their cultures, languages and religions through assimilation and other means. The Mohegans used the word ''chief'' from then on; but when they received federal acknowledgement in 1994, the tribe reinstated the term ''sachem'' and the late chief for life, Ralph Sturges, was allowed to carry that title.

Additions were added to the original 1931 museum building in the 1950s and 1960s to hold the growing numbers of artifacts that Gladys Tantaquidgeon, who studied anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, collected during her years in the Southwest as a BIA social worker and a representative of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.

The ''stone room'' contains arrowheads and other objects that are 10,000 years old, and one of the museum's oldest post-contact objects: a wampum collar attributed to Uncas with a design that is said to represent the division that took place between the Mohegans and the Pequots in the 17th century.

Another room contains a vast number of artifacts from Southwestern tribes, including some beautiful baskets. But not all of the museum's collections are on display. An ''enormous collection of tribal items'' is stored in a special climate-controlled environment in the tribal office where the archivist works.

''I think it probably makes her very nervous to have all this stuff up here because it's so touchable and out and open, but we're trying to preserve the feel for what the original collection here was.''

What if something breaks, or if it decays and crumbles?

''Maybe it was meant to and maybe it's important for the next generation to make one just like it, and so we try to have folks replicate things.

''Things can't be preserved forever. I guess that's one of our messages: You can't keep everything in a glass case. You need to pass things on to the next generation. That's the most important thing - teaching children, and not just Indian children. Everyone is realizing now that it's important for use to learn each other's cultures.''

Zobel is the author of the prize-winning 1995 history ''The Lasting of the Mohegans.'' She also paid tribute to her mentor in a biography called ''Medicine Trail: the Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon.''

The museum, located at 1819 Norwich-New London Turnpike, is open Wednesdays through Saturdays through October, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call (860) 848-0594.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mohegan Sun's Slot Revenue Sees Increase In May

Feather News

Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun both reported increases in its May slot revenue figures.

The Mohegan Sun reported its first increase in monthly slot revenues this year after it registered $75.1 million for the month of May 2008 compared to $75 million in May 2007. The increase in Mohegan Sun slot revenue is less than one percent and primarily due to an increase in the casino's hold percentage, which was 8.71% in May. Less money, or handle, was bet at Mohegan Sun slot machines in May 2008 than in May 2007. The total handle for the month of May was $862 million versus $869 million in May 2007.

Foxwoods reported slot revenues of $72.5 million for the month of May, a 7.7% increase over their May 2007 slot revenues of $67.3 million. The total amount bet, or handle, increased to $823 million in May 2008 from $787 million in May 2007. Their hold percentage was 8.81% in May.

The significant increase in Foxwoods' slot revenue increase can be attributed to their mid-May opening of Foxwoods' MGM expansion.

The above numbers for Mohegan Sun reflect slot revenues at Mohegan Sun only, the figures do not include slot revenues from the Tribe's Pennsylvania racetrack-slot parlor.

The two tribal casinos pay the State of Connecticut 25% of their slot revenues in return for the casino monopoly in that state. The combined slot revenues of the two casinos for May was $147.6 million, resulting in casino payments of $37 million to the state for the month of May.

The Tribe In The Media: BBC Reports On Mashantucket Pequot

In this installment of The Tribe In The Media series, the British Broadcating Corporation, or BBC, reports on the Mashantucket Pequots:

Gamble that made tribe millionaires

By Jane Little
BBC News, Connecticut
June 13, 2008

There are now over 300 casinos on Indian reservations in the US

It is hard to believe the scale of Foxwoods Resort Casino.

By floor space, it is the largest in the world.

Its gaming rooms, hotels, theatres and shopping malls tower over thickly wooded forests in this once sleepy corner of New England.

It is a shining city upon a hill, to which 40,000 people a day flock - from New York, Boston and beyond - to play on more than 7,000 slot machines and gamble at hundreds of tables.

But the house always wins - or almost always - and this is the remarkable story of how one tiny Connecticut tribe, all but extinct, became one of the richest in America. By betting on a swamp...

Cultural genocide

During the so-called Pequot War of 1636-37, the English massacred hundreds of Pequot tribe members and shipped women and children off into slavery in the colonies.

"The Pequots have the grim satisfaction of being the first tribe in east USA to undergo cultural genocide by the English," says Dr Kevin McBride, Director of Research at The Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center.

Those who survived did so by taking refuge in a swamp.

It was said that every member from the age of 18 was guaranteed at least $100,000 a year for life

By the 1970s Elizabeth George Plouffe was the only person left on the reservation, now reduced to 200 acres.

"My grandmother was a visionary," says Theresa Bell. "If she'd not held on and talked her grandchildren into coming back… it would have been turned into a state park."

Theresa and her brother Skip Hayward were among several grandchildren who answered their grandmother's call to return to the land.

Theresa now lives in a large, detached house, with a luxury sports car and recreational vehicle in the driveway outside.

But when she and others first came, they lived in trailers and tried to earn a living by raising pigs, harvesting maple syrup and even opening a pizza parlour on the highway.

Remarkable come-back

Skip Hayward realised that the businesses could not support the families on the land, who were struggling to survive.

And then he had an idea, bingo! Literally.

With the help of a campaigning lawyer, Thomas Tureen, he established a bingo hall in 1986.

Two years later, the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act was passed.

It intended to pull Native Americans out of poverty by allowing them to open casinos on their sovereign land, if the state in which they were based also permitted them.

A few tribes... have rejected casinos, often on the basis that it is wrong to profit from weakness, or the 'White Man's Sin'

Connecticut did not have casinos and was resolutely against them.

But Thomas Tureen discovered that it did allow so-called "Las Vegas Nights".

"Someone pointed out that Connecticut allows small-scale gambling for fund raising and someone from the tribe says 'well what's stopping us?' Well nothing really," he said.

And so, with money from Malaysian investors, Foxwoods Resort Casino opened its doors in 1992.

They have not closed ever since. It is even rumoured that they have lost the keys.

The tribe has a system to share the profits among its increasing membership, now up to 900.

No-one will say how much the pay-outs come to but it was said that every member from the age of 18 was guaranteed at least $100,000 a year for life.

'White man's sin'

The great wealth has caused problems, with some refusing study or work in favour of drugs and fast cars.

There has also been a rush of claims to tribal membership, igniting ongoing arguments over who is, and who is not, a Pequot.

I really hope [our ancestors] would be proud of what we're doing

James Walker 'David Fire Arrow', Pequot tribe
A few tribes - like the Hopi in Arizona - have rejected casinos, often on the basis that it is wrong to profit from weakness, or the "White Man's Sin".

But others have been inspired to follow suit, and there are now more than 300 casinos on Indian reservations across the US.

And just five miles away, across the river, stand the gleaming glass towers of the Mohegan Sun, which has become the second largest resort casino in the world.

But while the Mashantucket Pequot are well-off financially, they are poor in other ways.

A wander through the $200 million dollar Pequot Museum is revealing.

One room is devoted to creation myths of different tribes, but the Pequot's is not there.

They have no storytellers left to tell it.

What strikes me most after a few days here is the paradox at the heart of the Pequot's identity: the tribe is inevitably known for its casino, a controversial, capitalist enterprise.

But it seeks validation by appealing to an authentic, native American-ness that is about nature and spirituality.

Lost heritage

His fair skin and reddish hair betray more of his Scottish heritage than his native one, but James Walker - whose native name is David Fire Arrow - is doing his best to recover some of the past.

He holds weekly gatherings at his home, teaching children traditional dance, and adults how to make jewellery and weave baskets.

James thinks his ancestors would be happy with the casino. "I really hope they'd be proud of what we're doing," he says.

"This is allowing us to be here as an extended family: we're all cousins, brothers, and sisters."

But family tensions inevitably surface, and here they have spilled over into an all-out feud.

The man who largely rebuilt the tribe and the casino, Skip Hayward, was ousted as chairman.

The casino can fall into the swamp as far as I'm concerned

Theresa Bell
He refused an interview and - depending on who I spoke to - he is either a bitter recluse or a visionary who has moved on to his next project in construction.

His sister, Theresa Bell, has also left the council.

She regrets ever getting into the casino business: "I'd rather have seen the state park and I think my grandmother would have too… the casino can fall into the swamp as far as I'm concerned."

The tribe clearly faces its challenges. Apart from feuds, there is also the economy, which has reduced profits and forced lay-offs.

But it has not stopped the leadership from looking forward. A $700m expansion of Foxwoods has just opened.

The Mashantucket Pequot paid for it, and it is a partnership with Vegas-based MGM Grand.

The tribe is also branching out into other businesses in distant states.

And it is all thanks to a swamp, once a place of refuge from the English, now the aquifer serving a giant casino that is happy to accept English pounds.

You can listen again here to Jane Little's full report for BBC Radio 4.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Tribe In The Media: Medicine Woman

Feather News

In The Tribe In The Media series, which re-publishes various articles from the media to show how the Mohegan Tribe is portrayed, the article below is from The Day newspaper in regards to the recent appointment of Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel to Mohegan Medicine Woman:

New Mohegan Medicine Woman Walks Spiritual Path Blazed By Her Late Aunt
By Heather Allen
The Day
June 9, 2008

As a child she spent much of her time at the Tantaquidgeon Museum with her great aunt Gladys, its founder. Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel would take in as much information as she could about the MoheganTribe's past and its cultural richness.
And for most of her life, Zobel could look to Gladys Tantaquidgeon for guidance.

So it was difficult for her to imagine herself ever assuming the role of Medicine Woman, which was left vacant after Gladys died in 2005 at the age of 106.

But when the Mohegan Tribe's Council of Elders came to Zobel last month, asking if she would be willing to take on the position of Medicine Woman, she accepted. The council said Zobel would be “preserving the spiritual, physical and emotional health of individual tribal members.”

While the appointment will not change her life dramatically, it signals a shift. For so long she and other tribal members had Gladys, who was wholly dedicated to her tribe and community, to turn to.

And now, at the age of 48, Zobel has become that person.

“This is a position that I really, really had terrible trepidation about ever even thinking about assuming,” Zobel said. “I think—I think it's knowing that you no longer have someone else to go to.”

While some people may envision the medicine person as someone with vast knowledge in ancient herbs and healing techniques, Zobel said different people have different gifts.

She said that within tribes sometimes there is an individual who is a “seer.” Some may practice herbal healing and yet others may have a gift for working with children or the elderly. But nomatter what someone's gift or strength is, Zobel said the intent never changes.

“The goal is simple: to do what's best for your tribe and for the community as a whole,” she said, “to bring good things to the place that you live and the world that you live in.”

Joseph Gray, vice chairman of the council of elders, said the position is meant to promote “harmony and well being in the tribe as a collective whole.”

“The official duties are just being the Medicine Woman — period,” Gray said.

The role of Medicine Woman is defined by the person occupying the position.

Gladys' way was to spend her life researching the history and traditions of the tribe. In doing so, she created, along with her brother and father, Harold and John, the Tantaquidgeon Museum, which the Mohegans believe to be the oldest native-owned and operated museum in the country.

“(Gladys) focused on learning more about our ancient traditions as a way to make our people whole,” Zobel said. “And because I saw so much success in what she did, that's the path that I wanted to follow.”

In many ways Zobel has focused on similar projects. “Personalitywise, we're very different and yet there are very few people with whom I would rather (have) spent time during my life,” Zobel said.

Gladys, among her many accomplishments in life, entered the University of Pennsylvania in 1919, cofounded the museum in 1931, did social work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the mid- to late 1930s and in the 1990s provided documentation that helped the Mohegan Tribe achieve federal recognition.

In her role as executive director of the cultural and community programs department, Zobel has spent much effort on the repatriation of artifacts and human remains. She has also worked on reviving the Mohegan language.

Zobel emphasized that in order to repatriate artifacts, she must first understand their significance. So she has also become well versed in tribal symbols and the stories behind them. She hopes to preserve the old stories for each generation.

As medicine woman she will have no official duties to perform and she will not have to wear any special regalia.

Currently, her regalia consists of a blue satin top, a velvet collar and a black skirt that Gladys embroidered for her about 30 years ago.

When she wears the regalia, she also wears two down-turned turkey feathers in her hair. The angle of the feathers symbolizes that the individual comes in peace.

Zobel said no one in her family was entirely surprised by her appointment but she expects her three children, David Uncas Fayet, 17, Madeline Fielding Fayet, 18, and Rachel Beth Fayet, 22, may get the biggest thrill of all.

“I don't think anyone expects their mother to be the Medicine Woman,” she said. “I think for them, this will be interesting to explain to their friends.”

Meanwhile, Zobel's mother, Jayne Fawcett, said she is “comforted” to know that her daughter will fill a role she described as the “soul of the tribe.”

Fawcett, who is a former tribal councilor, said Zobel's appointment represents a continuation of the legacy of her aunt, Gladys.

“I guess it is important, extremely important, because everything that we are about must be contained in the medicine person. And the medicine person is the keeper of all of our traditions, of all of the things that make us unique, and it must be someone who has really been steeped in it all their life,” Fawcett said. “It's extremely gratifying to me. It's like having a safety net for the next generation.”

Those surrounding Zobel seem both confident and relieved to know that the little girl who spent so much time on Mohegan Hill is nowready to assume the role, many believe, she was born to have. “I felt that all along she would be the right person for that position,” Fawcett said.

“I felt she had been training her entire life for it.”

Tribe's Diversification Briefing

Feather News

The Mohegans have stated their desire to diversify but, instead of diversifying their business, the Tribe is currently content only with seeking geographic diversification of the same business - gaming. All of the Tribe's non-gaming ventures, run by the tribal government, have failed or continue to lose money.

The only non-gaming related venture (excluding the Connecticut Sun basketball team, which loses money according to MTGA statements made to financial analysts) that is currently operational is the child-care facility, which is losing money and subsidized by the tribal government. In the planning phase of the child-care center, the tribal council stated that it would be profitable. Now that it isn't profitable, the tribal government says it was never meant to make a profit. An interesting note is that Tribal members' children are said rank third in terms of priority in getting into that child care center. The children of casino management personnel rank ahead of tribal children in terms of preference, according to sources, and despite the fact that these tribal members - through their tribal government - are subsidizing the child care operation.

The only gaming diversification project that has been rolled out thus far is the Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor venture in Pennsylvania. Pocono Downs is losing money after taking into account the hefty interest expense of borrowing money.

The Tribe will learn the success of various diversification proposals this year. Perhaps the next word will come from the State of New York. The Tribe could find out this month if the group it has partnered with will be chosen to operate 4,500 VLT slot machines at a New York racetrack. New York's legislature, which must approve any VLT deal at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y., leaves session June 23rd - a short two weeks away.

The tribe should also find out this Fall if it will be selected to build and operate a casino in Kansas.

A brief update on the Tribe's various gaming diversification projects follows:

PENNSYLVANIA: Still losing money. A $208 million expansion is expected to open this summer, which will add slot machines and restaurants among other amenities. About $750 million will have been invested in the project upon completion of the expansion. Pocono Downs still has "negative cash flows," according to the tribal government.

WASHINGTON: The Mohegan Tribe teamed up with the Cowlitz Tribe of Washington State to build and manage a proposed $510 million casino in that state. The recently federally-recognized Cowlitz is seeking an initial reservation 25 miles from its headquarters upon which it seeks to build the casino. Numerous opponents to the Cowlitz casino plan, including card rooms and the local host government, may not thwart its coming to fruition. The first major step in the process was completed in late May when the environmental impact statement was made public. A federal determination will follow a public comment period. As of March 31st, the Mohegans have borrowed about $20 million on this project. According to one Bureau of Indian Affairs official, the project still has a long way to go for federal approval but the Feather News has reported since inception that this Washington project should eventually receive approval.

MASSACHUSETTS: The State of Massachusetts voted to abandon a casino plan proposed by the state's governor, however two Massachusetts Indian tribes remain eligible to build casinos under the same federal Indian gaming law that permitted the Mohegan and Mashantuckets to build casinos. One of those two tribes – the Mashpee Wampanoag – is being backed by the Mohegan’s former casino partners and is expected to eventually divert part of the Mohegan Sun’s customer base once it opens its doors. An opening date for a Mashpee casino in Massachusetts depends on many factors that have still yet to be resolved but the Feather News forecasts a Mashpee Wampanoag casino could open within two years.

WISCONSIN: The Mohegan Tribe teamed up with the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin to build and manage a proposed casino in that state, over 200 miles away from the Menominee Reservation. The U.S. Department of the Interior has stated that Indian casinos not located on or near reservations will not be allowed and this, along with numerous federal denials of other off-reservation Indian casinos put forward by other tribes, puts the Menominee project in doubt. The estimated cost of the casino would be $1 billion according to a Menominee tribal councilor. The Feds simply are turned off by what is being called "reservation shopping." According to statements made by Mohegan officials in April, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs - which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior - gave the tribe promising signals on the project but that official resigned from the Bureau of Indian Affairs days later. The total cost of this project has not been made public. “The sudden resignation of (the head of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs) Carl Artman leaves in question the future of the proposed Menominee casino project in Kenosh, Wisconsin,” according to a statement in Wuskuso. (Subsequent to this article, we read a February 2008 article in which MTGA's CFO Leo Chupaska said the Mohegans had invested about $9 million in the Wisconsin project. He also stated that $2.7 million is being written off as unreimbursable development costs.

KANSAS: The state of Kansas last year began a process that would result in four commercial casinos - one casino for four distinct areas of that state. The Mohegan Tribe is a partner in a group seeking a casino in one of those zones: Wyandotte County/Kansas City. Five groups are applying to build a casino in Wyandotte County and all of those applicants met minimum standards and agreed to the state’s contract terms on May 27. The proposals have been forwarded to the Lottery Gaming Facility Review Board, which has scheduled a decision by September 19. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe – through its Foxwoods Development Company - partnered with MGM in submitting a proposal last year for a casino in a different county of Kansas but they refused to agree to the state’s contract terms and have since pulled out. According to a Mashantucket spokesman, “Despite considerable efforts by the MGM Mirage/Foxwoods group and representatives of the Lottery and the State of Kansas, our negotiations did not result in terms for a Lottery Gaming Facility Management Contract that the MGM Mirage/Foxwoods group is prepared to sign, given the size, scope and projected returns for our proposed investment.” Any casino built in Kansas would be owned by the state of Kansas, according to their laws. The Mohegans and their partners announced that their proposed casino would cost $792 million, an increase from the previously announced figures of $770 million.

NEW YORK: The state of New York has accepted proposals from three groups to build and manage a 4,500 VLT slot parlor at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y. The resignation of former Governor Eliot Spitzer has resulted in a delay in selecting the group that would be given the 30-year management franchise. Any decision would need approval by both the governor and the legislature. New York State Senate Leader Joseph Bruno has recently said that current governor David Paterson is holding up the process. Although numerous self-imposed timelines have lapsed, the legislature’s current session ends in the third week of June so a decision would be expected by that date. The Mohegan Tribe has partnered with a team of Australian horse racing executives, among other entities. Capital Play televised commercials last Fall critical of former Governor Spitzer after it lost the bid to operate racetracks in that state so Spitzer’s resignation gives the group renewed hopes of being in the running for the franchise.

The three groups competing for the N.Y. VLT slot franchise and proposal details (according to The Thorougbred Times) are: "(1) Capital Play Inc. is partnered with Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino, Plainfield Asset Management and Extell Development. They have offered the state $100-million up front, but promise a greater return to the state over the life of the 30-year contract... (2) Delaware North, which owns upstate New York’s Finger Lakes Racetrack, has offered the state a $370-million franchise fee. Delaware North is partnered with Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. and runs VLTs at its Saratoga Springs harness track. (3)SL Green Realty Corp. has offered the state $250-million along with plans for a Hard Rock Aqueduct and a $28-million investment to promote upstate New York equine economic development programs such as a year-round training facility and educational initiatives in partnership with colleges and universities."

Tribe's WNBA Basketball Team Leads Conference With 7-1 Record

Feather News

The Mohegan's Connecticut Sun basketball team beat the Washington Mystics yesterday by a score of 87-79 before 7,174 fans at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Connecticut Sun is now 7-1 for the season and leads the Eastern Conference.

Last Friday, the Connnecticut Sun defeated the previously unbeaten Minnesota Lynx by a score of 78-77 before a crowd of 6,327 in the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena.