Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Photo: The Mohegan Corporate Skyline

Tonight's Intertribal Sobriety Social At Mashantucket Is Cancelled

New Year's Eve Snow Storm

Feather News
Updated 2

Snow began to fall on Mohegan this morning and is expected to last until this evening.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe announced that their offices will close at 11 A.M. this morning. The intertribal sobriety social, scheduled for tonight at the Mashantucket Pequot community center, has been cancelled.

Mohegan tribal members are encouraged to check with their supervisors regarding a possible office closing today. As of noon today, no announcement was made on WFSB Channel 3, the official channel for Mohegan tribal government closings.

The Mohegan Tribe government office will be closed Thursday and Friday.

Mohegan Gaming Authority Issues Annual Audit Report

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, the business arm of the Mohegan Tribe, issued its annual audit report yesterday. A brief summary of some key components follows.

The report can be found in the upper right-hand corner of this website in the link called MTGA Annual Audit FY 2008.

The annual audit report includes, among other financial data, the Tribe's income statement and cash flow statement for the 12 months that ended on September 30, 2008 and MTGA's balance sheet for September 30th.

Despite expansions at both the Mohegan Sun on the Reservation and at the Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor in Pennsylvania, the total amount customers spent at the two facilities (gross revenue) decreased by about 2.5 percent to $1.71 billion from $1.75 billion last year.

Yesterday's audit report also reflects a change in the net income, or profits, that were previously reported by MTGA earlier this month. Profits for fiscal year 2008 were previously reported at $152.8 million, a decrease of 11.5 percent compared to last year. The annual profit had been changed in the annual audit report issued yesterday to $149.3 million, a decrease of 13.5 percent when compared to last year's profits of $172.6 million.

It is crucial to keep in mind that this year's profits of $149.3 million includes a $68.9 million accounting adjustment that had nothing to do with actual operations. The $68.9 million adjustment reflects a change in the estimate that MTGA will pay its former management company, Trading Cove Associates, over the life of its contract that ends in 2014. Excluding this $68.9 million adjustment, the adjusted profit would be $80.4 million, or a decrease of $92.2 million compared to last year's profits (53 percent less than last year's profits). Cash flows from operations in fiscal year 2008 fell even steeper, by $111 million, compared to fiscal year 2007.

The same type of accounting adjustment related to Trading Cove Associates was done last year but it was only $3 million and that has not been taken into account (since the amount is small by casino terms) in the determination that profits fell 53 percent over the prior year.

A significant portion of the decline in MTGA revenues continue to stem from the corporate diversification department, which accounted for $29 million in expenses in fiscal 2008 compared to about $11 million in fiscal year 2007. The corporate diversification department oversees the portfolio of diversification projects, which over the past year included proposed casinos or slot parlors in New York, Kansas, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin. Much of the increase in the corporate diversification expenses in fiscal year 2008 is due to write-offs related to the proposed Menominee Tribe casino project in Wisconsin and the failed attempts in New York and Kansas.

The Feather News has consistently reported that the Tribe's Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor (which is not included in the corporate diversification department) is losing money. Although Pocono Downs was not open for a full year in fiscal year 2007, its operating results in 2007 were higher than it was in fiscal year 2008. The number of slot machines were also doubled in July 2008. In the audit report issued yesterday, the explanation given was that "The decrease in operating margin at Pocono Downs was primarily attributable to the continued weakening of the regional economy, new competition from Mount Airy (slot parlor) and the increased operating costs and expenses." How much is the Pocono Downs losing? An exact number cannot be determined with precision because MTGA only reports earnings before interest expense is calculated. A follow up article will provide readers with further analysis of the Pocono Downs operations supporting our conclusion that the facility is losing money. Also, a Feather News article earlier this month outlines these calculations.

Additionally, the balance sheet reveals: 1) The total long term debt at September 30th was $1.55 billion, 2) Accounts receivable increased 63 percent to $40.7 million, and 3) Cash decreased by $21 million.

Monday, December 29, 2008

New Year's Eve Sobriety Social At Mashantucket

Feather News

An announcement regarding an intertribal social on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation on New Year's Eve:

"Please join us at the MPTN New Years Sobriety Pot Luck Social

Raffle, Prizes & Entertainment

Come celebrate the New Year with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the

Cultural Recourses Department

Time: 6:00 pm to 12:00AM

The Mashantucket Pequot Community Center Gymnasium
Please park in back of the community center and enter though the back doors

Contact person: Jeremy Whipple 860-396-6184

Friday, December 26, 2008

Photo: Town Fire Department Spreading Cheer At Christmas

Happy Holidays

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We hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday. Postings will be limited over the next week but we'll get back into full gear after that.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Prominent Attorney Joins Team To Fight Tribal Member In Voting Rights Case

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Prominent attorney Wesley Horton joined the defense team, along with attorney Andrew Houlding of the Rome, McGuigan law firm and attorney Daniel Kirsch, in an attempt to defeat tribal member Ken Davison in his voting rights case Kenneth Davison v. Mohegan Tribe Election Committee.

Wesley Horton represented the city of New London in arguing succesfully before the United States Supreme Court in the landmark eminent domain case of Kelo, et al. v. City of New London. The case involved using eminent domain to transfer land from a private owner so it can be used for economic development. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of the city of New London. Many criticized the decision on moral grounds, viewing it as a violation of property rights that would benefit large corporations.

The eminent domain case is also the subject of a new book written by Jeff Benedict, the author of a book on the Mashantucket Pequot Nation called Without Reservation.

Horton joined the defense team in the Mohegan voting rights case on Thursday.

Tribal member Ken Davison is representing himself pro-se in the voting rights case, currently in the Mohegan Tribal Court. At issue in the case is whether tribal voters must vote for all elective positions on their election ballots. Davison asserts that tribal members should not be forced to vote for all elective positions on ballots.

In the last run-off election for the Council of Elders, Davison voted for three candidates. His ballot was not counted because he did not vote for all four elective positions available.

Davison believes, among other things, that forcing tribal voters to vote for all elective positions violates tribal members' freedom of speech rights and the section of the Mohegan Constitution which states that voters "shall be entitled to vote for each elective position."

Davison's amended complaint can be found under December 4, 2008 articles on the Feather News.

Mashantucket Tribal Government Workers Agree To Buyouts

Feather News

Mashantucket Pequot officials reported on Friday that 286 tribal government employees indicated they would accept a severance package offered by the Tribe under a plan that seeks to cut government costs.

It is not clear how many of those employees will be let go by the Tribe. In May, the tribal government reduced its workforce by 170 employees and the new offer will further reduce the government workforce.

Both the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Nation have seen revenues at their casinos drop significantly.

Despite declines in casino revenue and an announcement on December 10 that the Mohegan Sun will have to refinance $330 million in debt that comes due in 2009, the Mohegan Tribe has not made any attempt to materially cut the costs of its government operations. The Mohegans are currently building a community center-government building that is estimated to cost about $100 million. Interest expense alone on the money borrowed to build the facility is expected to cost the Mohegan Tribe close to $7 million each year.

The Mashantucket Pequots are expected to announce the number of job cuts by December 31.

"The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation continues to align government spending with preserving essential government functions and long-term strategic objectives," according to a statement released by the Tribe on Friday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Photo: Snow Begins To Fall

Mohegan Tribal Government Offices Closed Today

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal government offices will be closed today due to a snow storm that is expected to arrive early this afternoon. Mashantucket Pequot government offices will close at noon.

Total accumulation of 4-8 inches is expected by the time the snow ends tonight. Snow accumulation may differ widely over a short distance depending on how much sleet mixes with the snow.

Another snow storm is expected on Sunday.

Long Island's Shinnecock Indian Nation On "Active" Review List For Federal Recognition

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The Shinnecock Indian Nation, located on Long Island, N.Y., is now under active consideration for federal recognition by the Office of Federal Acknowledgment of the United States Department of the Interior.

A federal judge ordered the Department of the Interior in September to consider placing the Shinnecocks under active review and last month the Interior Department acted on that order.

The tribe, recognized by the state of New York for over 200 years, filed an application for federal recognition in 1978. Now that the Shinnecocks are being actively reviewed, a preliminary determination could be made in 18 months.

The Tribe is comprised of about 1,300 tribal members, 600 of whom live on the reservation. The Tribe's reservation lands are adjacent to the Town of Southampton, located on the East end of Long Island.

The Tribe has made public its interest in gaming should it receive federal recognition.

Penn Regulators Revoke Licenses Of Two Pocono Downs Employees And Investigates Vendor

Feather News

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board notified Smith Blacktopping, Inc. of Plains, PA that it must halt any business it is doing at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs slot parlor until final action is taken regarding its license. Smith Blacktopping was one of five vendors notified by the state gaming board of pending license problems due to an owner, officer or director allegedly having either a felony conviction or felony charge.

The state gaming board said in a statement, "Under the new regulation, upon issuance of a Notice of Recommendation for Denial by the Office of Enforcement Counsel to a vendor applicant, a firm that had earlier received interim permission to provide vendor services upon completion of its application to the PGCB, would automatically lose such interim permission."

"Facilities will still be able to request permission to use a vendor applicant to provide goods or services while the application is being reviewed. However, if investigations uncover felony convictions that may make the vendor ineligible to gain a permanent vendor license or certification, the privilege will be rescinded."

"This is one of those cases where we believe we can make some changes and make the system better by tightening the procedures relative to work being conducted by vendors."

The state gaming board also revoked the gaming licenses from two employees at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs who were caught stealing from the facility, according to a statement released.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter Storm Watch In Effect For Friday

Feather News

A winter storm watch is in effect for Friday morning through Friday evening. Several inches of snow are expected.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Casino To Replace Fidelia's Restaurant With Venue By Food Network Host

Feather News

Fidelia's restaurant in the Mohegan Sun casino will be replaced with "Bar Americain," to be opened along with "Bobby's Burger Palace" in the Casino of the Earth. Both will be opened by Bobby Flay, a chef and Food Network host.

The restaurant that will replace Fidelia's, Bar Americain, will be in the high-end price range according to a story in The Day newspaper. That same article quoted Jeff Hartmann, the chief operating officer for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, as saying the two Flay restaurants will be jointly owned by Flay and the casino.

The restaurants are scheduled to open in the Summer.

Obama Announces Ken Salazar As Choice For Interior Secretary

Feather News

President-elect Barack Obama announced today U.S. Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) for his choice as Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs as one of its responsibilities.

Mr. Obama said at the announcement, "Ken will bring to the Interior an unabiding commitment to the land we love. Ken will help ensure that we live up to the treaty obligations we've made with the first Americans. We want more than just a government-to-government relationship with tribes. We want to hear their voice."

"Native Americans felt like they had no access. He has also been one of our key leaders in the Senate on energy independence."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Weather Advisory For Uncasville Region

Feather News

The National Weather Service is expecting snow tonight, changing over to sleet after midnight. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for northern New London County from 7 p.m. tonight until 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.


Feather News

Treasure Island hotel and casino is to be sold for $775 million. An article posted earlier today has been changed to reflect that amount.

Tribes In The Media: Feds Charge Former Mashpee Chairman With Embezzlement

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a Boston Globe article concerning embezzlement and other charges brought against the former Mashpee Wampanoag tribal chairman Glenn Marshall by federal authorities.

Former tribal leader faces charges
Embezzlement, illegal contributions alleged
By Sean P. Murphy and Andrea Estes
The Boston Globe
December 16, 2008

Federal authorities charged former Mashpee Wampanoag tribal chairman Glenn A. Marshall yesterday with steering tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to state and federal politicians, and embezzling $380,000 in tribal money that he spent on groceries, trips, and jewelry.

Officials said in court documents that Marshall - who successfully led the fight for federal recognition of the tribe only to resign amid controversy last year - has agreed to plead guilty to the charges. He is expected to cooperate in an ongoing investigation that stretches from Washington to the tiny tribe's headquarters on Cape Cod, authorities said.

The charges deepen the sense of turmoil that has swirled around the tribe as it wages a political fight for a casino. Although they have won federal recognition, the Mashpee Wampanoag are still trying to get land in Middleborough placed in a federal trust so they can build their $1 billion resort.

Officials in Middleborough worried last night that Marshall's plea agreement might impact the deal they hammered out with the tribe to build a casino on 500 acres off Precinct Street.

Selectmen chairman Adam Bond, who is an attorney, said Marshall's illicit activity could represent a breach of the contract.

Board members planned to call an emergency meeting this week to discuss the situation with Dennis Whittlesey, the Washington attorney who helped negotiate the multimillion-dollar host agreement.

"This is a significant development," Bond said. "Whether it will ultimately be significant, I don't know."

The charges outlined in court documents portray Marshall as converting a fund intended to promote the tribe's traditional fishing rights into a political and personal slush fund. Called the Fisherman's Association account, the fund was stocked by outside investors in the tribe's casino plans with $4 million between 2003 and last year.

In addition to paying a host of consultants, lawyers, and lobbyists working on the casino plan with the money, Marshall is accused of tapping the fund to steer $60,000 in illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress and state lawmakers. He used a series of family members and tribal officials to act as straw contributors to get around restrictions that prohibit corporations or tribes from making campaign contributions, according to documents filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston.

The purpose of the illegal political donations was to "to curry favor" and win backing for the tribe's quest for federal recognition, authorities alleged.

Marshall also spent lavishly from the fund on himself, according to investigators, blowing through hundreds of thousand of dollars from the Fisherman's Association account for "groceries, vacation trips, tuition for his daughter, restaurant tabs, home repairs, home mortgage payments, and jewelry."

Marshall's lawyer, Robert Craven, acknowledged the truth of the government's case in an interview, confirming that Marshall plans to plead guilty.Continued...

"Glenn didn't dream up the scheme himself," Craven said. "He was getting bad advice."

The 59-year-old Marshall, a tall man with a ready grin and a distinctive gray ponytail, became a well-known figure on Beacon Hill and in news broadcasts advocating for his tribe. Marshall, who began as tribal chairman in 2000, resigned in August 2007 after acknowledging a 1981 rape conviction and lying about his military record. Now, following his expected guilty plea, he faces up to 41 months in prison, his lawyer said.

"He made a life decision to get this done and to protect his family and go on," Craven said.

A spokeswoman for the tribe, Gayle Andrews, declined to be interviewed. She released a statement saying that while the tribal government was saddened by the news, it "will continue to work on behalf of its 1,600 members for benefits, including health, education, and other remunerations granted federally recognized tribes."

The charges against Marshall were brought by US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan after an investigation that included the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service. Besides campaign finance violations and wire fraud, Marshall also agreed to plead guilty to filing false tax returns and fraudulently receiving $10,000 a year in Social Security disability benefits, according to the documents. No date has been set for Marshall to enter his guilty plea. Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for Sullivan, declined comment.

Governor Deval Patrick, who has so far rebuffed a request from the tribe to negotiate a casino proposal with the state but has expressed interest in an Indian casino, said the state would continue its relationship with the Wampanoag.

"We've got a very, I think, positive and transparent relationship with the tribe," he said. "We've been very candid with them, and they with us, about what the constraints are, from our perspective, in what their objectives are. And we're going to continue to work with them whomever the leadership is."

The criminal information filed in court yesterday describes a key political adviser to Marshall as "Political Consultant A," who was paid $20,000 a month to "oversee the tribe's lobbying and public relations activities." Political Consultant A "recommended on numerous occasions to Marshall which state and federal legislators should receive campaign contributions," the document says.

While the political consultant is not named, the documents indicate he was hired by the tribe in 2002. Lobbying records filed with Congress show that Stephen J. Graham of Boston was the only lobbyist newly hired in 2002. Graham did not return a phone call yesterday. Graham, 55, a Dorchester native, worked for many years as an advance man for Hillary Clinton.

It was the political consultant who arranged for Marshall to meet and eventually hire lobbyist Jack A. Abramoff, at $12,000 a month. Abramoff, who was later accused of charging various tribes exorbitant fees, admitted to conspiracy, influence-peddling, and other charges in January and is serving a four-year prison sentence.

At a meeting in 2003, Abramoff told Marshall and the political consultant "that in order to advance its recognition effort, the tribe needed to make significant political contributions to certain members of Congress," according to the document outlining the case against Marshall.

Marshall became tribal chairman in 2000, shortly after Herbert Strather, a Detroit-based businessman who helped develop a casino there, become involved with the Mashpee Wampanoag.

Strather and other Michigan investors formed a close bond with Marshall, at first agreeing to fund the tribal council's expenses at $10,000 a month and later upping it to $100,000 a month. In addition, the investors agreed to pay the cost of lobbyists, lawyers, and others involved in the recognition bid.

When Marshall's leadership was challenged in 2005, Strather wrote to tribal members urging his reelection. Strather, however, sold his interest last year, when Marshall struck a deal with the developers of Connecticut's Mohegan Sun resort, Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman. That deal would give the investors 6.5 percent of the gross revenue of a casino, hotel, and convention business, according to the court documents. Currently, Mohegan Sun is grossing about $1.3 billion annually.

The contributions Marshall orchestrated included payments to the campaigns of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Congressman William Delahunt, and then-Congressman Richard Pombo of California, who played a key role in Congress on Indian affairs, as well as to a political action committee controlled by Pombo.

Kennedy's office said yesterday that it had already donated $2,900 from Marshall to the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness.

Delahunt, in a statement, said he would review the findings and would donate questionable contributions to charity. Pombo, a Republican who lost his reelection bid in 2006, did not return a telephone call.

On the state level, among those who received campaign contributions were former attorney general Thomas Reilly ($1,500), Senate President Therese Murray ($1,500), House Ways and Means Committee chairman Robert Deleo ($1,000), House majority leader John Rogers ($900), and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray ($250).

MGM Mirage To Sell Vegas' Treasure Island Casino For $775 Million

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MGM Mirage announced yesterday that it agreed to sell its Treasure Island hotel and casino, on the Las Vegas Strip, to real estate and gambling mogul Phil Ruffin for $775 million.

The sale of Treasure Island will help MGM with its financing of CityCenter, a luxury complex that it is currently building on the Las Vegas Strip.

Ruffin will pay $500 million in cash for Treasure Island and will owe another $275 million in secured notes. Ruffin's investments include casinos and greyhound race tracks.

MGM Mirage has owned Treasure Island since 2000, when MGM Grand purchased Mirage Resorts. Treasure Island opened in 1993, has 2,885 hotel rooms and was built for $450 million. The sale must still be approved by regulatory authorities.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mohegan Sun's November Slot Revenue Down 5.3%

Feather News

Mohegan Sun's slot revenue declined 5.3 in November when compared to the same month last year while Foxwoods reported a decline of 7.6 percent, according to reports.

Mohegan Sun reported $66.8 million in slot revenue for November. Foxwoods reported November slot revenue of $54.5 million. Both casinos pay 25 percent of this amount to the state of Connecticut in exchange for a casino monopoly in the state.

Last month, Mohegan Sun reported a decrease of 9.1 percent in slot revenue for the month of October when compared to the same month last year while Foxwoods reported a decline of 7.5 percent in October slot revenue.

Slot revenue at both casinos continue to decline although both casinos have added significantly more slot machines in expansions that have opened since last year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mystic Liberty Pole

The Tribe In The Media: The Latest Partner In Cowltitz Casino Project

Feather News

This installment of The Tribe In The Media series is a November article in The Columbian about a California Indian tribe buying a stake in the Cowlitz Indian casino project in Washington.

Barnett sells off piece of casino
California tribe now owns an unspecified stake in development partnership
By Jeffrey Mize
The Columbian
November 21, 2008

A Northern California tribe is the newest partner in an effort to build a casino resort near La Center.

David Barnett, a Cowlitz Indian Tribe member who has spearheaded efforts to build the project, has sold an undisclosed portion of his interest to a California tribe.

The new partner is the Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Indians. The tribe already operates the Rolling Hills Casino, part of its 2,000-acre reservation near Corning, Calif., about 100 miles north of Sacramento.

The sale is not expected to affect the Cowlitz Tribe’s request for the federal government to take the 152-acre casino site, along the west side of Interstate 5, into trust on the tribe’s behalf.

A final environmental impact statement was issued earlier this year, but the federal government has yet to make a final decision. One likely won’t be made until after President-elect Barack Obama takes office Jan. 20.

Barnett, reached in Las Vegas Thursday, wouldn’t discuss the issue and seemed to dispute one report of the sale.

“You don’t have any information,” he said before hanging up.

But John Crosby, director of economic development for the Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Indians, confirmed Friday afternoon that the sale has been completed after a couple of months of negotiations.

“We thought it was a great opportunity to diversify,” he said. “This is just one of those opportunities that we evaluated, felt good about it, felt it was a good investment.”

Crosby said he understands the federal government has made no decision on the Cowlitz Tribe’s application.

“There’s always risk,” he said. “They are going through all the legal processes to get tribal gaming on that land. We believe they will one day, and they have a great market.”

The Rolling Hills Casino also is near Interstate 5, he noted, but it is much farther from a major metropolitan area. The proposed Cowlitz casino is only 15 miles north of the Portland-Vancouver area.

Crosby said he visited the location as part of his tribe’s due diligence.

“It’s a wonderful site,” he said. “It’s very visible.”

Crosby said he doesn’t know what prompted Barnett to sell a portion of his investment.

Crosby would not disclose how of an interest his tribe now owns in Salishan-Mohegan or how much it paid. He also declined to comment on one unconfirmed report that the tribe purchased 48 percent of Barnett’s interest.

Securities and Exchange Commission filings indicate the Mohegan Tribe and its subsidiaries own 57 percent of Salishan-Mohegan. If the 48 percent figure is accurate, Barnett now owns 22.4 percent of Salishan-Mohegan and the Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Indians own 20.6 percent.

Phil Harju, the Cowlitz Tribe’s vice chairman and spokesman, said although the Cowlitz have an agreement with Salishan-Mohegan to develop the proposed casino complex and manage it for seven years, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the inner working of the partnership.

Banks Agree To Refinance Portion Of MTGA Debt

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority announced yesterday that it has amended its bank credit facility, similar to a line of credit, with a syndicate of banks led by Bank of America acting as the administrative agent. According to an MTGA press release, the December 10 changes to the banking facility are as follows:

"The overall size of the credit facility has been reduced from $1.0 billion, with a $250 million increase option, to $850 million, with a $150 million increase option. Permitted capital expenditures for the Authority's Project Horizon have been reduced from $950 million to $350 million as a result of the suspension of certain components of the project and certain other investments and capital expenditures have been reduced. Proceeds of the credit facility may now be used to repay the Authority's 6 3/8% $330 million senior subordinated notes at maturity on July 15, 2009. The Authority's covenants for total leverage, senior leverage and minimum fixed charge coverage ratios have been modified to conform with the current construction plans for Project Horizon and recent operating trends. Interest rate margins and fee rates have also been modified."

January's Quarterly Membership Meeting Date Changed

Feather News

The quarterly membership meeting, originally scheduled for January 18th, has been changed to January 11th.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Editorial: Fidelia's and Birch's Restaurants To See Changes

Feather News

This week, Brokenwing Editorials reported that Fidelia's restaurant in the casino may be closed soon. Sources have speculated that the location of Fidelia's - the only 24-hour restaurant in the casino and one of the restaurants in which the profits are believed to go directly to the Tribal government - would be leased out to another restaurant. Sources have also said that half of Birch's restaurant - another of the casino restaurants that the tribal government owns through MTGA - will be changed.

No details on these changes have yet been provided to tribal members. Since Tribal members that are age 62 and over can bring a guest to eat complimentary meals in Birch's, Fidelia's and the casino buffets, it is incumbent on the Tribe to especially notify this group of members of what changes will occur. It is also the responsibility of the Tribe to notify all members of the reason for the change.

Note: Both restaurants are owned by MTGA, which is owned by the Tribe.

Menominee Request For Feds To Stop Review Of Its Casino Application Is Denied

Feather News

Doubt has surrounded the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin's application for an off-reservation casino, that would be managed by the Mohegan Tribe, since the U.S. Interior Department announced guidelines last January regarding its unwillingness to approve tribal casinos that are hundreds of miles from a tribe's reservation.

At the time the policy was announced, in January 2008, the Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected 11 off-reservation casino applications. While the Menominee Tribe's off-reservation casino application was not rejected, actions taken by the Tribe indicate that it fears just such a rejection in the final days of the Bush administration.

The Menominee Tribe filed a restraining order that asked the court to bar the federal government from giving its final review of their casino application but that injuntion was denied two weeks ago.

The Menominee Tribe, in its application, proposed a casino that is about 200 miles from its reservation in a town called Kenosha, WI. Under the plan, the Mohegan Tribe would develop and manage the casino.

A federal judge said that the Menominee Tribe's restraining order request failed to establish a likelihood of success. "It is doubtful that the claim is ripe or that the tribe has standing at this stage of the proceeding," Judge Griesbach wrote in his decision on November 26.

Based on the federal guidelines issued last January and barring intervention under an Obama administration, the Menominee Tribe's proposed casino may never get approved.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority announced last Thursday that it wrote off $9.5 million, a portion of what it has spent, related to the Menominee project. MTGA also wrote off about $3.5 million earlier this year (second quarter) related to the Menominee project.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Atlantic City Nov Gaming Revenue Falls 7.8%; Las Vegas Strip Oct Gaming Revenue Falls 25.8%

Feather News

The two largest gaming spots in the U.S. continue to report declines in business. Casinos in Atlantic City reported a drop of 7.8 percent in gaming revenue during the month of November while Las Vegas strip casinos reported a 25.8 percent decline in gaming revenue for the month of October when compared to the same month last year.

The casinos in Las Vegas, and the rest of Nevada, trail New Jersey by one month in their reporting casino results.

In addition to the nation's economic conditions, Las Vegas is also being hampered by less airline flights going into that city.

Two of Atlantic City's 11 casinos reported gains in their November gaming revenue: Harrah's Resort Atlantic City increased 9.4 percent and Caesars Atlantic City increased 8.5 percent.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mohegans Meet With U.S. Navy Officials

The Tribe In The Media: Mohegans Talk To Sailors

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is a re-published article from the Groton Submarine Base's Dolphin newspaper that chronicles a visit to the base this November by Mohegan Indians and that was originally posted at the end of November.

Mohegan tribe and SUBASE Sailors celebrate heritage
By Navy New London Public Affairs
The Dolphin
November 26, 2008

GROTON, Conn. - The enduring attributes of Native American Heritage were highlighted and celebrated last Thursday, as Naval Submarine Base New London marked Native American Heritage Month with a special presentation at Dealey Center Theater.
"American Indians understand service and sacrifice," said Bob Soper, Chairman of the Council of Elders of the Mohegan Tribe.

Soper and a number of fellow elders and tribe members, including the Mohegan Honor Guard and the Unity of Nations drum group, joined base commanding officer, Capt. Mark Ginda, in the multi-faceted celebration. Tribal history, Mohegan songs and drumming, personal accounts, and sea stories all combined to elaborate on Soper's statement and provide perspective on the month.

"Native Americans represent a greater percentage within the Armed Forces than any other ethnic group," said Soper.

Recounting his own service in the Army National Guard, Soper noted that members of the Mohegan Tribe had long been defenders of freedom and served the Nation through the military.

Elder Stephanie Fielding spoke of her grandfather's service in the Navy. His assignment to Hawaii placed Fielding's grandmother and Fielding's mother, as a young child, at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Fielding's grandmother served as a volunteer ambulance driver for two days following the Japanese attack of that day.

Elder Marie Pineault spoke of Chief Harold Albert Tantaquidgeon who was tribe chief from 1952-1970. Tantaquidgeon was a three war veteran and served in World War I, World War II, and the Korean conflict. He was awarded the Purple Heart for being injured in combat after being shot down over New Guinea during the Second World War.

The Mohegan's long history of service in defense of the Nation can be traced to the tribe's first chief or "Sachem" Uncas, according to Medicine Woman Melissa Zobel.

Uncas led the Mohegans, or "Wolf People," in splitting from the Pequot Indians and Sachem Sassacus, who favored conflict with early European settlers in the 1600's.

"Uncas taught all in the tribe that cooperation is as important as tradition," said Zobel.

Uncas befriended the European invaders and forged an alliance on behalf of the tribe's well being and security. That alliance, as Zobel relayed, would ultimately require the Mohegans to help the English defeat the Pequots as well as continue to fight along side their English allies through a number of European as well as Indian conflicts. Through it all, while other Native American nations were lost, the Mohegans endured.

"He was someone who had a very definite vision of security for his people in very difficult times," said Zobel. "He's probably the single greatest hero in Mohegan history."

Such Native American heroism is what Ginda highlighted in the Navy tradition of a captivating sea story.

Ginda spoke of the gallant action of Fletcher-class destroyer, USS Johnston (DD 557), during the Battle off Samar, a part of the Battle of Leyte Gulf during the Second World War.

Johnston's Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Ernest E. Evans, was of Cherokee Indian descent and born in Pawnee, Oklahoma. His heroism in leading his ship and crew in attacks on a greatly superior Japanese battleship and cruiser force materially contributed to the Navy's victory in the battle, and was recognized with his posthumous award of the Medal of Honor.

"These are the men and women and this is the heritage that we celebrate today," said Ginda. "It should make all us proud to serve."

In a touching conclusion to the afternoon's event, members of the Mohegan tribe passed out certificates of appreciation to attending Sailors, acknowledging their service and sacrifice.

"Tawbutni, Thank you," said Soper in Mohegan and English. "May the Creator keep you safe."

'Coffee Hour With Councilors' Meeting Tomorrow

Feather News

A reminder that the 'Coffee Hour With Councilors' meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. tonorrow, Wednesday morning. The meeting will last no longer than one hour and is an opportunity for Tribal members to ask Tribal councilors questions.

The $330 Million Debt Question

Feather News

The Feather News wrote an article last year about the $330 million casino debt that will come due in July 2009. In light of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's announcement last week that it will refinance that debt with the bank financing that was originially lined up for the expansion, we have re-published that September 2007article below:

The $330 Million Debt Question
By Ken Davison
Feather News
September 22, 2007

In less than two years, the first and largest piece of financing for the Mohegan Sun’s $1.2 billion Sunburst expansion will come due for payment. For the second time since the expansion first opened in 2001, some might say.

Representing about a quarter of the Tribe’s total casino debt, $300 million was first borrowed in 1999 and was later paid off in 2003, when the Tribe’s business arm, Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA) borrowed $330 million at a lower interest rate (6 3/8% annual interest rate vs. 8 ¾% on the 1999 debt). This $330 million borrowing must be repaid on or before July 15, 2009. MTGA pays $21 million each year in interest expense on this debt alone and isn’t required to pay any of the $330 million amount borrowed until 2009, when the full amount that was borrowed must be repaid.

Due in part to refinancing, the rest of the Sunburst expansion debt won’t come due until the years 2012-2013 when $500 million will need to be repaid, and then the balance of the debt in later years.

Upon reaching the due date for the $330 million borrowing in the summer of 2009, MTGA will have paid over $200 million in just interest expense on that one piece of debt since it was first taken out in 1999. To put this amount in perspective, the $200 million in interest expense is about the equivalent to five per-capita distributions to tribal members.

The expansion will have been open for almost eight years by the summer of 2009 but it is unlikely that MTGA can generate the additional profits that would be needed to pay the $330 million debt. MTGA would then need to borrow money to pay for at least part of the debt. Nobody knows what interest rate would apply two summers from now but if MTGA refinances that debt using the same interest rate that applied in 1999 (8 3/4%) then that $21 million interest expense each year would spike to about $29 million annually.

Despite early announcements after the expansion by MTGA that it would pay down the Sunburst expansion debt aggressively, only about 18% of that debt has been paid off since the expansion first opened in 2001. The MTGA’s profits, as adjusted, suffered badly in the first three years after the expansion first opened, averaging $57 million in total profits for each of those three years (fiscal years 2002, 20003 and 2004) compared to the $140 million average profit for each of the last two pre-expansion years (fiscal year 2000 and fiscal year 2001). Since 2004, profits generated by the Mohegan Sun have doubled and are roughly equivalent to the profit levels of the pre-expansion years. Based on the most recent audit report, it is only when one includes the losses attributed to the diversification program that overall profits fall to slightly below the profit levels of those pre-expansion years.

MTGA first put a dent in the expansion debt in fiscal year 2003 - the same year of the $330 million borrowing - when the expansion debt was reduced by $50 million in that year. In the following three years, the expansion debt was further reduced by $81 million (FY 04), $65 million (FY 05) and $14 million in fiscal year 2006. Those payments total $210 million (not including expansion debt that has been refinanced), or 18% of the $1.2 billion expansion debt.

Although some of the expansion debt has been paid down, total MTGA debt has since increased due to the borrowings for the purchase and construction of Pocono Downs and the second expansion of the Mohegan Sun. As of June 30th, MTGA's total debt was approximately $1.3 billion compared to $1.25 billion a year earlier.

Note: This article focuses on one component of the debt and is not designed to give the reader a complete picture of the Tribe’s financial situation. It is our hope that through more articles covering the Tribe’s finances, the reader will gain a clearer understanding of the financial situation. In this article, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority is referred to as “the Tribe” or “the casino.” The Tribe’s debt of $1.2 billion discussed in this article does not include tribal government debt or the approximately $1 billion the Tribe will pay to the former casino management partners, Trading Cove Associates, over a fifteen-year period. All profit figures have been adjusted to reflect actual payments to Trading Cove and do not take into account the $24.5 million reimbursed by Penn National to the Tribe in fiscal year 2006 This report is largely based on last year’s audit report (FY 06). The audit report for the current fiscal year (which ends on September 30, 2007) is expected to be released by the Tribe in December 2007.

Casino Developers Chosen To Build Casinos In Kansas Want Out

Feather News

The developer that was initially chosen over a group that included the Mohegan Tribe to build a casino in the Kansas City region of Kansas said Friday that it will re-apply to build a $400 million Hard Rock casino.

Kansas Entertainment's Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at Kansas Speedway , which includes the Kansas Speedway and The Cordish Company, won the contract from the state of Kansas on September 19 to build a casino in the Wyandotte County-Kansas City region of the state. The group later pulled out of the deal but Friday's announcement was its first signal that it still wants the contract, as long as it will be allowed to phase in capital developments, such as the hotel and convention center.

The Kansas Lottery Commission will discuss on December 11 the re-opening of the bidding process in two of the four zones that will end up with casinos under a new gambling law.

It isn't likely that the Mohegans will again get involved in the contest to build a casino in Kansas. The Tribe has stated its inability at this stage to involve itself in Maryland, the next East coast state to get into the slot machine business.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's chief operating officer, Jeff Martmann, told a crowd in November at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas, "We probably won’t participate in Maryland because of the political process and our balance sheet. Where we are now will prohibit us from participating in Maryland."

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino at Kansas Speedway beat out proposals by Golden Gaming Inc. and Legends Sun, made up of RED Development LLC and Mohegan Sun.

In the September selection voting, the Kansas Review Board voted for the Hard Rock proposal by a 4-3 margin. Golden Gaming got the other three votes while the Mohegan's group, Legends Sun, didn't receive any votes.

Three of the chosen developers have pulled out of deals for casinos in Kansas since September, including Kansas Entertainment, Penn National Gaming and Sumner Entertainment.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Photos: First Snow Of The Season At Mohegan

Mohegan Gaming Authority 4th Quarter Analysis: Part I

Feather News
Updated with footnote on TCA

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority issued its fourth quarter earnings report last Thursday. The period covers the three months of July 1st through September 30th and also covers the entire fiscal year from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008.

The subject of the earnings report is, well, MTGA's earnings (also known as profits) and and discusses details of the income statement. The two other key financial reports - the balance sheet and the statement of cash flows - are expected to be released in about two weeks when MTGA issues its audited financial statements for the year.

A more complete analysis will be made once the entire financial statements are released in two weeks.

In the meantime, we can take a look at what the earnings report reveals. The earnings, also known as profits or 'the bottom line', is the key figure that was reported last Thursday. For that reason and because it is probably the most important number in the financial statements for tribal members to know, we will discuss briefly those profits that were reported. Two other articles, one on Pocono Downs and another on miscellaneous items, will follow this one on the earnings report.

Profits for the three months:

MTGA'S earnings for the three month period were $90.6 million or a 94% increase over the fourth quarter in 2007. The reason for the dramatic increase has nothing to do with MTGA's performance but is largely due to an accounting adjustment that increased profits in the quarter by $68.9 million. The adjustment is due to a re-assessment of the amount of money MTGA will pay Trading Cove Associates, its former management company, over the remaining years of its 15-year contract that ends on December 31, 2014. Had that re-assessment adjustment not been made, then earnings for the fourth quarter would have been $21.7 million, a 54% decrease from the fourth quarter in 2007 when earnings were reported at $46.7 million.

Many of you know that the MTGA pays Trading Cove Associates 5 percent of every dollar taken in as revenues at Mohegan Sun (excluding revenues of the Casino of the Wind expansion). The amount that MTGA will pay TCA through 2014 was revised downward because revenues through 2014 are estimated to be lower than previously thought.

The 54% decrease in profits - when not taking into account the $68.9 million accounting adjustment - is not as steep as the third quarter (April through July), when profits declined 89 percent from the year before to about $5 million from $45.6 million in the third quarter of 2007. That dramatic decline in profits resulted in the Tribal Council taking over the reporting of profits in the Wuskuso newsletter. In that article, the Tribal Council neglected to report the actual earnings and never reported to tribal members that the profits fell 89 percent.

Profits for the fiscal year:

MTGA reported profits for fiscal year 2008 of $152.8 million, a decrease of 11.5% from its fiscal year 2007 profits of $172.6 million. Likewise, the fiscal year 2008 profits includes the same $68.9 million accounting adjustment discussed above, which is due to a re-assessment of the amount of money MTGA will pay Trading Cove Associates, its former management company, over the remaining years of its 15-year contract. Had that re-assessment adjustment not been made, then earnings for the fiscal year would have been $83.9 million, or a 52% decrease from the 2007 fiscal year earnings of $172.6 million.

Trading Cove Associates, or TCA, is the former management company that managed the Mohegan Sun since it opened in 1996 and until the contract was bought out in a deal that promised TCA 5% of the Mohegan Sun revenues for 15 years, beginning in January 2000 and lasting through December 2014. The Mohegan Tribe, through MTGA, paid TCA $77.5 million in FY 2007 (Dec. 2007 SEC 10-K filing, pg. F-32) and is expected to pay TCA about $1 billion by the time TCA's 15-year contract ends in 2014.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, a $3.0 million non-cash relinquishment liability reassessment charge was recorded. We have not taken this into account in the above calculations (it is not that significant). MTGA said in its press release that the decrease in its fiscal year 2008 profits was attributable "primarily due to an $18.4 million increase in Corporate-related expenses and reductions in income from operations at Pocono Downs and Mohegan Sun of $4.0 million and $3.3 million, respectively."

Mohegan Gaming Authority 4th Quarter Analysis: Part II

Feather News

The fourth quarter earnings press release also gave tribal members its first glimpse of the Pocono Downs operation in Pennsylvania since the expansion opened there on July 17, 2008. That expansion basically doubled the number of slot machines to a total of about 2,500 machines in addition to offering more restaurant and retail amenities.

Readers of the Feather News have learned for some time that the Pocono Downs has been losing money when one takes into account the interest expense on the investment. The Tribe has never reported this to its members. As recently as the last quarterly meeting, tribal members were told that the Pocono Downs is profitable. However, the financial reports provide us with clear evidence that this is simply not true.

First, lets take a look at what MTGA's press release says about the last 12 months at Pocono Downs:

"Adjusted EBITDA for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008 decreased by $591,000, or 2.0%, to $29.6 million from $30.2 million in the prior fiscal year."

The term 'EBITDA' is 'earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. The largest of those expenses is interest expense so we are not even going to discuss the other expenses. So if Pocono Down's profit before taking into account interest expense is $29.6 million then what is the profit AFTER interest expense? Let's take a look.

To calculate the interest expense we have to add up the total investment in Pocono Downs. The major components are:
1. Purchase of the racetrack property $280 million
2. Cost to build Phase I $92 million
3. Cost to build Phase II $203 million
4. Cost for gaming license $50 million

The above amounts total $625 million. The weighted average interest rate was 7.2% for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008. But if we do a rough calculation of the interest expense at 7 percent on that $625 million investment, then we arrive at an annual interest expense of $43.8 million.

So if MTGA reported that Pocono Downs had a $29.6 million profit BEFORE interest and other expenses, then if we subtract $43.8 million of interest expense we end up with a LOSS of $14.2 million for the year.

Remember, these numbers are based on reports filed by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and are rough calculations.

Don't count on Wuskuso reporting this news to tribal members!

Note: The above calculation of $625 million in total investment in Pocono Downs doesn't include the accumulated losses at the property since it was bought or any of the corporate diversification expenses. If these costs are added, the total cost would be estimated at $750 million. Also, the final cost of Project Sunrise may be decreased from $203 million to $199 million, according to the press release. We used a 7% interest rate in our above calculations. The actual weighted average interest rate was 7.2% for the fiscal year 2008, according to MTGA.

The above article discusses profits at Pocono Downs. Net revenues at Pocono Downs, mostly comprised of slot machine revenues, for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008 was $209.2 million. These revenues are before any expenses are deducted. The increase over last year's $189.5 million in net revenues is primarily due to doubling the slot machines in the expansion that opened last summer.

Mohegan Gaming Authority 4th Quarter Analysis: Part III

Feather News

MTGA's press release on its fourth quarter and fiscal year earnings also describes other significant events and news on what it plans to do in the future.

Opening Winter entrance to cost $69.5 million more:

"The Authority currently anticipates incurring an additional $69.5 million in connection with the Earth Expansion relating to the construction of the Earth guest connector and the retail podium which will connect the Winter Parking Garage to the Earth Casino. The Earth Expansion also will incorporate renovated food and beverage facilities, including a burger restaurant, a family-style sit down pizzeria and a four-station quick-serve dining area, as well as 7,000 square feet of new retail space." The Earth expansion will include "a burger restaurant, a family-style sit down pizzeria and a four-station quick-serve dining area, as well as 7,000 square feet of new retail space."

The press release also states, "As of September 30, 2008, the Authority has incurred approximately $58.0 million for the Earth Expansion relating to excavation and foundation work for the planned podium and hotel tower, as well as professional fees for design and architectural work."

Expansion financing to be redirected in refinancing of MTGA debt:

MTGA secured $1.25 billion in bank financing for its Pocono Downs and Mohegan Sun expansion. Due to halting the expansion at Mohegan Sun in September, MTGA needed to amend that financing agreement. The press release stated that most of MTGA's lenders have agreed to changes in the agreement, one of which is to reduce that $1.25 billion total to $1 billion. The second change is to use some of that bank financing to refinance the $330 million in bonds that come due July 15, 2009. Other details include reducing the overall investment in the expansion at Mohegan Sun's Project Horizon expansion from $950 million to $350 million, limit other capital expenditures, change the allowable debt ratios and modify the interest rates and bank fees under the financing agreement.

We expect that MTGA's next filing, anticipated to be released in a few weeks, will discuss what the new interest rates and bank fees will be.

Casino to maintain its distribution to tribal government (so far):

MTGA distributed $80 million to the Tribal government last fiscal year, not including reimburseable expenses or pass-through money. The press releas said that "distributions to the Tribe are anticipated to total $82.5 million for fiscal year 2009."

Corporate diversification department costs soar:

MTGA's corporate diversification department was set up about five years ago to search for diversification opportunities. Thus far, it has implemented one project - Pocono Downs. The department has been costing us about $10 million per year since it was started about five years ago, however, this year the costs have soared to close to $30 million. According to the earnings press release, "Corporate costs and expenses for the fiscal year ended September 30, 2008 increased by $18.4 million to $29.0 million compared to $10.6 million in the prior fiscal year. Corporate costs and expenses for the fiscal year include $9.5 million in non-cash charges for additional reserves recorded against the net assets of Wisconsin Gaming."

MTGA's bread and butter - Mohegan Sun slot revenues:

MTGA reported a total of $1.36 billion in net revenues (before expenses) for fiscal year 2008. The bulk of these revenues is derived from slot machine revenues at Mohegan Sun, which accounts for about 63 percent of MTGA's total net revenues (before expenses). Slot machine revenue for the fiscal year declined 7.1 percent, to $856 million from $922 million in fiscal year 2007.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Tribe In The News: Mohegan Gaming Authority Issues 4th Quarter Earnings

Feather News

The following three articles appeared regarding the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's release of its 4th quarter earnings (profit) report. Each article is from a different local newspaper. Note that The Day newspaper does not mention the actual earnings (profits), also known as 'the bottom line.'

The earings report confirms that Pocono Downs, the Tribe's racetrack-slot parlor in Pennsylvania, is losing money after taking into account interest expense.

A detailed analysis of the earnings report and other details of the press release will appear soon on the Feather News.

Mohegan Sun suffers economic losses in 2008
Norwich Bulletin
December 4, 2008

Mohegan, Conn. — In the last year, fewer people gambled, shopped, ate and spent the night at Mohegan Sun, the result of people adjusting their entertainment budgets in light of the nation’s recession. While not necessarily surprising, the fourth quarter and fiscal year 2008 operating results announced by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority Thursday showed significant decreases in income for the tribe. In fiscal year 2008, the tribe’s net income was $152.8 million, an 11.5 percent decrease from fiscal year 2007.

Sun Profits Lower; Job Cuts At Foxwoods
By Eric Gershon
The Hartford Courant
December 5, 2008

For the Mohegans and Pequots alike, the recession is hurting operations further, with lower profits at Mohegan Sun and new job cuts at Foxwoods.

Mohegan Sun casino on Thursday reported declining revenues for the fourth quarter and full year.

Net income fell 12 percent for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 at the casino, owned by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. Total gaming revenues and slot revenues fell by about 4 percent.

In the last quarter, Mohegan Sun's gaming revenues dropped by 5.4 percent, to $374 million, even as the casino's take from table games increased slightly. Gross slot revenues — the money that's shared by the state — fell by 7.9 percent, to $276 million.

Net income rose for the quarter because of a non-cash accounting change.

A day earlier, the Mashantucket Pequots, who own Foxwoods Resort Casino, offered buyouts to all 729 employees of tribal government except the seven members of the tribal council. A tribal spokeswoman would not say how many positions will be cut but said layoffs will follow, if necessary.

The Pequots — which had already cut about 900 casino jobs and 200 tribal jobs this year, including that of the chief executive — said the latest reductions would be done by Dec. 31.

The casinos are bringing in less money, which they attribute to depressed consumer confidence, increased competition in the Northeast and the recession in general.

Mitchell G. Etess, CEO of the Mohegan authority, said the tribe has no near-term plan for buyouts or layoffs.

Mohegan Sun credits recent success to 'proactive' strategy
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day Newspaper
November 5, 2008

Mohegan — Mohegan Sun executives told investors Thursday that a “proactive” approach to controlling costs enabled Mohegan Sun to maintain its leading share of the Connecticut gaming market in the last quarter of the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

Amid industrywide revenue declines and despite a major expansion by its competitor, Foxwoods Resort Casino, which opened MGM Grand at Foxwoods in May, the Sun captured a 52.2 percent share of the market during the quarter, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported during a conference call. Mohegan halted its own expansion project in September, and has saved on labor and promotional costs through prudent planning, Mitchell Etess, the authority's chief executive officer, said.

Nevertheless, the authority's $373.7 million in gaming revenues during July, August and September represented a 5.4 percent decline over the same period in 2007. For the fiscal year — Oct. 1, 2007 to Sept. 30, 2008 — gaming revenues at Mohegan Sun and at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., totaled $1.41 billion, a 4 percent decline over the previous year. An expansion of the Pocono Downs facility opened in July.

Table-games revenues were up 1.8 percent over the fourth quarter of the fiscal year, while slot revenues were down 7.9 percent. For the fiscal year, table-games and slot revenues decreased 3.1 and 4.3 percent, respectively.

Mohegan Sun's fourth-quarter labor savings were achieved through a 7 percent decrease in the number of casino employees, though none was laid off, Etess said in a telephone interview later in the day. “If we find we have excess people in a department, we have them do other jobs,” he said. “When people leave, we don't replace them.”

Jeffrey Hartmann, the authority's chief operating officer, said the Casino of the Wind, which opened in August, adding 65,000 square feet of gaming space, including a poker room, and the Margaritaville restaurant, has been a resounding success. In 2009, he said, the authority expects to complete renovations of the casino's Winter Garage and Winter Entrance, which will feature a new retail area, including a Frank Pepe Pizzeria.

Hartmann said final approvals are expected next year for a casino project the Mohegans plan to develop with the Cowlitz Indians in LaCenter, Wash. However, he said he was “less optimistic today than we were 90 days ago” about a Kenosha, Wis., casino project the Mohegans have pursued with the Menominee Tribe, which last month filed a federal lawsuit over the review process for the off-reservation project.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Mohegan Voting Rights Court Case Moves Forward

Feather News

Revisions were made to a complaint filed in the Mohegan Tribal Court that seeks to overturn the manner in which elections are conducted on the Mohegan Reservation. The amended complaint was filed today in the Mohegan Tribal Court.

One of the next steps in the court case of Kenneth Davison v. The Mohegan Tribe Election Committee will be a decision by Judge Jane Freeman on whether the tribal government must notify all tribal members of the case and let tribal members know that they can ask the court to be made a party in the case. Also pending are possible revisions to add additional defendants.

Davison said, "Naming the Election Committee as a defendant is a technical matter and not adversarial. The Election Committee chairman, Jim Gray, and the entire committee are a professional group of folks that tribal members should be proud of. I can't speak for them but I believe that in their professional capacity they are neutral and want to see some kind of resolution to this matter. I just felt that naming the Election Committee as a defendant was a necessary way to begin the court case."

Davison's voting rights case was first filed with the tribal court on September 15, 2008. Since then, the judge denied a motion by the defendant's attorney that sought to have the case dismissed.

The amended complaint follows (Should readers wish to refer to the Mohegan Constitution, the Mohegan Election Code or the U.S. Constitution, these documents can be found on


1.Plaintiff’s ballots for the past two run-off elections in August 2007 and August 2008 were not counted.

2.Plaintiff expressed his preference (voted) for three candidates in both aforementioned run-off elections in which four elective positions were available.

3.Plaintiff was notified by Election Committee officials that Plaintiff’s ballots in aforementioned elections were deemed not valid in accordance with the requirements set forth in Section 1-205(a) and Section 1-206(e)(2) of the Election Code, which requires voters to indicate their preference (vote) for the same number of candidates as there are elective positions available.

4.Section 1-205(a) of the Election Code states, “Every registered voting member of The Tribe who submits a ballot in a Tribal election shall be required to cast one vote thereon for each elective position available.” Further, Section 1-206(e)(2) of the Election Code states, in part, that no ballots containing “less votes than positions available” shall be counted.

5.Article VII, Section 2 of the Mohegan Constitution states “In each tribal election, every registered voting member shall be entitled to cast one vote for each elective position available.”

6.According to Black’s Legal Dictionary, a “vote” is the “expression of one’s preference or opinion by ballot.”

7.Article XI, Section I of the Mohegan Constitution states, in part, that “The Mohegan Tribe, in exercising its powers of self-government, shall make no law inconsistent with The Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.”

8.The Indian Civil Rights Act and Article XI, Section 1(a) of the Mohegan Constitution prohibits the Mohegan Tribe from making or enforcing laws that abridge the freedom of speech.

9.The Indian Civil Rights Act and Article XI, Section 1(h) of the Mohegan Constitution guarantees Mohegan citizens equal protection of the Tribal Nation’s laws.

10.Article XVII of the Mohegan Constitution sets forth the procedures for amending the Mohegan Constitution.

11.Certain at-large election methods, such as the method used in Mohegan elections, have been proven in federal courts to dilute the vote of certain classes of citizens in violation of, inter alia, U.S. citizens’ equal protection of its laws guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.


1.Deeming the Plaintiff’s aforementioned ballots not valid, and therefore not counted, abridged Plaintiff’s voting rights in accordance with Article VII, Section 2 of the Mohegan Constitution.

2.Deeming the Plaintiff’s candidate preferences on aforementioned ballots not valid, and therefore not counted, abridged Plaintiff’s freedom of speech rights guaranteed under the federal Indian Civil Rights Act and Article XI, Section 1(a) of the Mohegan Constitution. Similarly, the Election Code’s requirements in Section 1-205(a) and 1-206(e)(2), which forces the Plaintiff to indicate his preference for more candidates than Plaintiff wishes to vote for in order for Plaintiff’s ballot to be counted, abridges Plaintiff’s freedom of speech rights guaranteed under the federal Indian Civil Rights Act and Article XI, Section 1(a) of the Mohegan Constitution.

3.Deeming the Plaintiff’s candidate preferences on said ballots not valid, and therefore not counted, abridged Plaintiff’s equal protection of its laws by not allowing Plaintiff the opportunity to participate in the political process, in violation of the federal Indian Civil Rights Act and Article XI, Section 1(h) of the Mohegan Constitution, both of which guarantee Mohegan citizens equal protection of the Tribal Nation’s laws.

4.The Tribal Council’s enactment of Section 1-205(a) and 1-206(e)(2) of the Election Code violated the Mohegan Constitution’s mandated procedures that allow for amending the Constitution as described in Article XVII of the Mohegan Constitution.


Wherefore, the Plaintiff prays that this Court:

1. Declare that Sections 1-205(a) and 1-206(e)(2) of the Election Code violate Article VII, Section 2 of the Mohegan Constitution.

2. Declare that Sections 1-205(a) and 1-206(e)(2) of the Election Code violate Article XI, Section 1(a) of the Mohegan Constitution.

3. Declare that Sections 1-205(a) and 1-206(e)(2) and the implementation of those Sections of the Election Code violate Article XI, Section 1(h) of the Mohegan Constitution.

4. Declare that the enactment of Sections 1-205(a) and 1-206(e)(2) of the Election Code violates Article XVII of the Mohegan Constitution.

5. Enjoin the Defendant and its agents, and all persons acting in concert with any of them, from administering, implementing, or conducting any future election under the existing balloting process in which voters must vote for all elective positions available.

6. Order the Defendant to devise and submit for Court approval a balloting process that does not violate Articles VII, Section 2 and Article XI, Section 1(a) of the Mohegan Constitution. Order the Defendant to devise and submit for Court approval an implementation schedule for a revised balloting process that will take effect for the next election cycle. In the absence, the Court shall devise a revised balloting process and implementation schedule that will take effect for the next election cycle.

7. Order the Defendant that the ballot be changed to indicate how many candidates were selected by the voter should voters be allowed to choose different numbers of candidates on their ballots.

8. Order the Defendant to devise and submit for Court approval educational materials that are to be sent to Mohegan voters notifying them of any changes in the balloting process. In said material, an illustrative sample ballot reflecting any changes, along with instructions on how to fill out the ballot, shall be included.

9. Plaintiff requests the Mohegan Tribe to pay all court costs and reasonable legal costs incurred on this case. Plaintiff requests not to be responsible for any costs incurred by the Defendant.

10. Grant such additional relief as the interests of justice may require.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mashantucket Pequot Tribe To Cut More Government Positions

Feather News

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation reportedly notified its tribal government employees that they can take advantage of a voluntary buyout package. The news comes about six months after the tribal government employees shed 170 positions, some through layoffs and some through a voluntary buyout program.

In the voluntary buyout program last May, employees were offered 6 months of compensation and benefits and one week of salary for every year worked, up to 10 years.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mohegan Sun Employee Seeks To Rent Room In Uncasville

Feather News

I ran into a Mohegan Sun employee today who said he wants to rent a room near the casino for himself and his wife. He told me that he was formerly a professor at a university in China. Because his wife will be moving to Uncasville tomorrow, he will need to rent a room close to the casino. If anybody knows of a room near the casino that he and his wife can rent, please contact My initial impression of the gentleman was that he seemed like a respectable fellow. He said his wife is a great cook so if you like Chinese food and have a room available, let us know and we can put you in contact with him.

Fireworks, Tree Lighting and Santa On The Roof Of Thames Parking Garage Tomorrow

Feather News

The public is invited to a tree lighting ceremony and fireworks display tomorrow evening on the roof of the Thames parking garage between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

In addition to a tree lighting and fireworks, there will be cookies, hot chocolate, carol singing and the arrival of Santa Claus.

New President Of Mashantucket Gaming Enterprise Named

Feather News

Michael Speller has been named the new president of the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Enterprise.

Speller worked at Foxwoods in the mid-1990s and recently served as senior vice president of gaming operations for the Seneca Gaming Corporation.

Speller will replace the senior vice president of resort operations for MPGE, Barry Cregin, who has served as the interim president since Patricia Irvin was let go about two months ago.

Pennsylvania Slot Parlor Mistakenly Sends Customers About $30 Million In Freebie Vouchers

Feather News

The Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Pennsylvania has been frantically calling customers who were mistakenly mailed $500 in free slot machine credits and buffet coupons.

Penn National said that these offers were accidentally mailed to 55,000 customers and the total value of the freebies is estimated at about $30 million. The slot parlor has been trying to convince customers that only part of the offer will be honored. Officials are telling customers that they will honor $100 in slot machine credits and two buffet coupons if they are used before Christmas.

The $500 free slot-play offer was supposed to go out to only 1,000 of the slot parlor's customers and not the 55,000 customers that were sent the offer by a direct marketing firm used by the company.

According to an AP report, Penn National spokesman Eric Schippers said, "What we don't know is how it occurred, why it occurred, and we don't want to speculate until we hear back from them exactly what happened. Rather than say, 'Sorry, it was an error,' we've said, 'Sorry, let's try to come up with what we think is a reasonable redemption plan.'"

Investigators for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board are looking into the matter to determine if the offer and any subsequent actions violated any rules.

Information on the company's redemption offer will be posted on its Web site, and a recording will be available by calling 717-469-2211.

Monday, December 1, 2008

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Cayuga Indian Nation To Ask For Court To Order Return Of Property Taken In Raid

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The Cayuga Indian Nation in New York will seek the return of their cigarettes and cash that were seized from its smokeshops by county officials.

The tribe says that county authorities lacked jurisdiction when they raided smokeshops last week and siezed property. County officials claim that they have jurisdiction because the land on which the smokeshops conduct business is not reservation land.

“Maybe there use to be a reservation a long time ago, or there was a claim that there had been a reservation, but that claim is gone. There is no reservation there anymore," according to Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann.

State authorities did not participate in the raid despite requests by county officials.

Tribes in New York sell cigarettes without charging sales taxes to its customers. County officials claim the Tribe is breaking the law.