Thursday, May 29, 2008

Feather News Posting Schedule For Next Two Weeks

Feather News


The Feather News will be posting articles less frequently over the next two weeks. The "Googled" article section in the right-hand column of the blog will, however, keep members current on some daily news events.

Three-Card Monte Session: Financial Statement Audit Completed

Feather News


A tribal government spokesman stated that the independent auditor approved the government's fiscal year 2007 financial statements on May 9th, about six weeks after the Feather News reviewed the unaudited financial statements on March 27th.

The financial statements are for fiscal year 2007, which is the twelve-month period of October 1, 2006 through September 30, 2007.

We are told that changes had been made to the financial statements during that six-week period. The Feather News is currently seeking to review the audited financial statements.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tribe's WNBA Basketball Team Loses To Indiana

Feather News


The Tribe's Connecticut Sun basketball team posted its first loss of the season against the Indiana Fever last night at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Indiana won the game by a score of 75-46. The Connecticut Sun seems content to only take outside shots with no inside game whatsoever under the basket. But last night, the riskier outside shots didn't fall and they got trounced. Meanwhile, the early success of the Fever was due to their ability to drive to the basket for easy hoops.

According to published reports, 5,245 people were in attendance at the game.

The Connecticut Sun's record is now 3-1 and will play New York on Friday.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Watch Your Language: Today's Barbecue Has Changed Over Time

Feather News
Updated


A Circle of Elders meeting will be held at 11 a.m. this morning and followed by a barbecue.

The word "barbecue" comes down from the Carib Indian word "barbricot." The Caribs were said to once be cannibals however today's barbecue at the Elder Housing Complex will not include the preferred meat of the Carib Indians.

Other common words believed to come from the Carib language are "hurricane (huracan)" and "maiz (mahiz)."

The Carib Indians occupied parts of the Caribbean coastlines of Central and South America as well as islands in the Caribbean. They expanded their territory through warfare and after defeating the neighboring Arawaks, it was said that their custom was to marry the Arawak women and eat the men. The Arawaks referred to the Caribs as "canibas," which became the word "cannibal."

"Maize" could also have come from the Arawak language.

Mohegan language instructor Stephanie Fielding states that "Mohegan has contributed several words to the English lexicon. For example: Wiqám = wigwam; máhkusunsh = moccasins; skôks = skunk; mos = moose; piwi = peewee; and the heeby-jeebies most likely came from cipay = spirit."

Casino Of Wind Slot Machines Reduced By 19%

Feather News


As recently as February, the tribe announced that the 45,000 square foot Casino of the Wind that is to open this Fall would include 826 slot machines but that number has since been reduced to 670 slot machines, according to the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's most recent filing with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC).

A casino executive said the final number slot machines should be 670 slots plus or minus up to five machines.

According to the MTGA filing, the Casino of the Wind will be a "gaming area adjacent to the Casino of the Sky, which is expected to include approximately 45,000 square feet of gaming space with approximately 670 slot machines, 28 table games and a themed poker room with 42 tables, as well as approximately 20,000 square feet of new dining and retail amenities, including a two-level, 16,000-square-foot Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Restaurant and the return of Chief’s Deli, a casual dining restaurant which we will operate. Groundbreaking for the Casino of the Wind occurred in June 2007, and the new casino is scheduled to open in the fall of 2008. The estimated cost of the Casino of the Wind is $125.0 million."

The description of the Casino of the Wind is identical to a February 14th SEC filing except for the number of slot machines. A casino executive said that the reduction in slot machines from previous plans was due to eliminating planned slot machines from the Earth Food Court. It isn't clear that the earlier planned slot machines in the Earth Food Court could be considered the "Casino of the Wind" as stated in the February SEC filing. We were told last year that slot machines in the Earth Food Court was eliminated from plans, long before the February SEC filing.

Had slot machines been installed in the Earth Food Court or anywhere in the existing building, the tribe's former management company (Trading Cove Associates) would have been eligible to receive five percent of slot revenues from those machines. Trading Cove will not receive any fees from revenues associated with the new expansion as long as their current payments are not "materially" affected by the new expansion.

An agreement with Trading Cove gives that company five percent of all revenues at the Mohegan Sun for the period of 2000 through 2014. Trading Cove received approximately $75 million for last year alone based on that formula.

Other components of the $925 million expansion on the reservation, called Project Horizon, are expected to open in October 2010 and will include a high-rise hotel with 919 rooms, a House Of Blues Foundation Room, a 36,000 square foot music hall, restaurants and 44,000 square feet of retail space.

Other property improvements of Project Horizon will include a 1,500-space parking garage, additional surface parking lots and road improvements.

Related Articles:
http://feathernews.blogspot.com/2008/05/earth-hotel-groundbreaking-held-today.html

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tribes In The Media: Mashantucket Pequot Tribe Layoffs

The Tribes In The Media series re-publishes a second article in today's The Day newspaper of New London regarding the financial and political difficulties facing the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe:


End is near for scores of tribe workers
Mashantuckets reducing government force by 20% through buyouts, layoffs

By Kira Goldenberg
The Day newspaper
May 24, 2008

Mashantucket - For about 170 employees of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, May 30 is the end.

About 10 percent of those 170 employees were laid off and the rest opted for a buyout package as the tribal government pares down its workings.

The departures trim the work force by about 20 percent.

”It's very difficult,” tribal General Counsel Jackson T. King Jr. said Friday. “This is a tough process for everybody. Some of our friends have chosen to leave, and for tribal members, it's their relatives. It's difficult, but sometimes you've got to bite the bullet.”

The departures were announced Friday. About half the people who requested buyouts were turned down, King said, leaving some employees unsure of their status until later in the day.

The buyout option, called a “voluntary severance package,” was first announced in late March. The package includes six months of compensation and benefits and one week's salary per year worked up to 10 years. The employees who were laid off get a lesser severance package, spokespeople said. Employees who are also tribal members have their own buyout deal.

Employees desiring buyouts who worked in what the tribe deemed necessary positions were denied the offer. This included departments such as emergency services, gaming commission employees, and the legal department. Other departments were consolidated or eliminated, according to a statement released by the tribe.

Still other government functions were shifted, King said. Outdoor landscaping, which mostly benefits Foxwoods Resort Casino, owned and operated by the tribe, was shifted from the government's public works department to Foxwoods, King said.

Some tribal members disagree with how the tribal council dealt with tightening the budget. At least a third of the tribe's 800 to 900 members filed a petition in March asking that members have input in how the tribe trimmed $40 million from the government budget. Tribal council meetings are closed to all but the governing members.

After a preliminary hearing on the issue May 22, a continuation was granted until Thursday to give members more time to present their case. But the judge did not agree to an injunction on the tribal council to prevent cutting its work force Friday.

Tribe's WNBA Connecticut Sun Team Wins Third Straight Game

Feather News


The Mohegan's Connecticut Sun basketball team beat the Sacramento Monarchs at the Mohegan Sun Arena by a score of 87-64, bringing its record to 3-0.

Tribes In The Media: Editorial On Mashantucket Pequot Tribe

In The Tribes In The Media series, we are re-publishing an editorial in today's The Day newspaper covering the ongoing financial and political difficulties of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe:

Tribal Democracy
The Day newspaper
May 24, 2008

Any sovereign democracy is going to face tumultuous times. Such a time is at hand for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe where a large group of members is agitating to have more of a say in their government.

They're upset, and understandably so, because livelihoods are at stake as the tribe tries to rein in its spending, as its lenders have recommended. Reportedly, Wall Street executives have told the Mashantuckets to trim $40 million in government spending. That's a big chunk of money for a relatively small community.

The tribe reports its membership as 800 to 900 people, and says it employs about 900. For comparison's sake, the city of New London, which just passed an $80.7 million budget, has a population of about 26,000 and employs about 800 people. And unlike the tribe, New London must fund a school system. So if the Mashantuckets are cutting $40 million, their per-member spending ratio must be very large, although the tribe does not make its overall budget public.

But now, faced with layoffs to cut the excess, tribal members are looking for more of a voice in their government. They want to be involved in decision-making regarding tribal services, programs and spending.

The Mashantucket dissenters feel shut out by their seven-member tribal council. They say the tribal council prohibits them from speaking at its meetings, provides inadequate noticing of those meetings and does not release council minutes in a timely fashion.

They're particularly troubled because the council has largely gone behind closed doors to discuss who and what to cut.

In the current case, that demand for greater access is being made by many. About 180 of the tribe's approximate 500 adult members signed a petition asking the tribal court to allow them to be part of the budget-setting deliberations. The tribe's constitution requires one-third of the voting membership to force a referendum, and apparently the petitioners easily attained that. So clearly, a sizable number of people are unhappy.

Tribal members elect councilors to represent them, and like any democracy they want accountability.

We urge the tribal council to engage them. Listen to what members have to say and see if they offer any solid solutions or alternatives. The strength of a democracy, after all, is that the supreme power lies in its body of citizens, not a select few.

A Constitution Review Team is already at work on the reservation considering ways to improve the tribe's governing document. Dissenters believe the tribe's meteoric growth - both in size and wealth - has jettisoned it to a point where its operating framework is no longer viable.

Whatever the cause of the discontent, the tribe would likely find itself in a better position if it more closely listened to what its members had to say.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tribal Government Offices To Close At Noon Today

The Tribes In The Media: Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Government Cuts

In today's Tribes In The Media series, which portrays how Indians are portrayed in the media, we have re-published an article on the ongoing controversy over Mashantucket Pequot's decision to cut their government budget:


Not A Grand Time For Tribe
The Day Newspaper
By David Collins
Published on 5/23/2008

This should have been a week of celebration for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council, in the wake of the star-studded opening of their new MGM Grand casino, but it's not working out that way. Instead, it seems they've got a nasty insurrection on their hands, an angry constituency that is calling for, among a lot of other things, impeachment of the council.

The extent of the problem was apparent Thursday on the reservation, in front of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Court, where a couple of dozen tribal members gathered in the rain to hear the outcome of a hearing on their petition to take part in deciding how $40 million will be cut from the government budget.

Many of the tribal members expect to learn as early as today that they may lose their government jobs as part of those cuts.

”The (Mashantucket) constitution says 'We the People,' not 'We the Council,' said Bob Hayward, brother of former Tribal Chairman Skip Hayward, who was trying to stay dry under a shed roof, left outside, like the others, because there was not enough room inside the small court.

”What this is really all about is having a voice.”

Keri Spears, director of tribal family services and the aunt of Tribal Chairman Michael Thomas, was among those huddled under umbrellas, angry about the cuts. “When we came to Mashantucket the intent was to create the best of services, which is now being taken away,” said Spears, who has had a job with the tribe for 32 years but believes she may now lose it.

”This was not the intent for Mashantucket,” she said, adding that the government plans to tell tribal members to seek social services from the state, not the tribe.

Some members were wearing their tribal work uniforms, and a lot of the anger was rank-and-file resentment focused on the big salaries earned by councilors.

It didn't help that a gossip column this week in The New York Daily News reported on what it called a custody battle between the tribal chairman and a former girlfriend over their 4-year-old daughter. The column quoted the lawyer for the girlfriend as saying that Thomas has been refusing to pay court-ordered child support of $850 a week, despite his base salary of $21,567 a week. The column kept popping up in comments by members Thursday.

The petition was signed by more than a third of the tribal membership, but it appears as if it will sink finally in a legal quagmire - the hearing was eventually recessed until next week - and probably not much else can be done to stop the bite of job cuts.

But tribal members made clear Thursday they intend to push on, with constitutional reforms and maybe a petition for a recall of the council. The Pequot tribal councilors not only have budget problems, they have enormous political problems. Closed-door deliberations and arrogance, it appears, may be part of their undoing. I felt sort of sorry Thursday for Jackson King, the council's lawyer, and Thomas Londregan, sitting as a tribal judge, as they tried to sort out it all out, refereeing in court a family fight that ought to have been settled at home.

At one point Londregan asked King if all the signers of the petition could have a copy of the memo he wrote to the council, describing its legal inadequacies. He agreed.

”It's their paper,” King said.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Photo: Woods In Front Of Government Building

Editorial: Pristine Woods In Front Of Tribal Government Building

By Ken Davison


Two months ago, the issue of a majority of the tribal councilors voting in favor constructing a new government building came to the forefront. The Feather News suggested that the project should at least be put on hold, given the uncertain financial condition of the tribe and the casino, if not abandoned altogether and replaced with a plan to have a temporary, inexpensive community center for the tribe.

Instead of building a massive project, I suggested that the tribal council work to keep our existing property clean if they really wanted to impress visitors. I posted some photos of the woods in front of the tribal government building to show that the property could use some cleaning up.

I learned one important fact after posting those photos. Cousin Joe, a dedicated government employee and tribal member, spoke with me about the photos and it was clear that the photos upset him. Our conversation got cut short but it was also clear to me that he really cared. I always knew he cared about the tribe and that he worked for the tribal government but I didn't know in which department he worked until that day.

I took a walk over to the woods in front of the tribal government building this afternoon. It was cleaned up and I'm sure it was no easy task considering that some of the debris included appliances and what looked to be truck axles that were probably there for decades before the existing government (warehouse) building was even built.

In an exception to our motto "what goes up never comes down," the Feather News will be taking down the earlier photos in honor of cousin Joe and others who may have helped bring the woods back to their natural condition.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

This Week's Tribal Council Meeting Canceled

Kansas Commission Expected To Vote On Casinos Next Week

Feather News


The Kansas Lottery Commission is conducting hearings today in Topeka on the five groups vying to operate a casino in Wyandotte County-Kansas City.

The Mohegan Tribe partnered with Kansas City-based RED Development and Olympia Gaming of Las Vegas for a $770 million casino in that region of the state.

The Commission is expected to vote by next Tuesday but could end up endorsing more than one of the proposals and let the Gaming Facility Review Board make the final selection at a later date.

Once it gets the contracts, the review board will conduct its own study on issues such as how much revenue will go to the state. The review board is expected to announce their decisions in August and September, after which the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission must conduct background checks.


See related articles:
http://feathernews.blogspot.com/2008/04/kansas-expected-to-make-decision-on.html
http://feathernews.blogspot.com/2008/02/future-kansas-casinos-pass-legal-hurdle.html

Flash: Mohegan Gaming Authority Credit Rating Lowered By Moody's Investors Service Yesterday

Monday, May 19, 2008

Correction

By Ken Davison


In an article last week on the Mohegan groundbreaking for its Earth Hotel, we reported that Dan Akroyd had once "ridiculed the Mohegan Tribe in a Saturday Night Live anniversary special." In fact, it was Akroyd's fellow "blues brother" Bill Murray who ridiculed the tribe in the 25th anniversary Saturday Night Live special program. The article has since been updated.

I had seen the show when it aired - in disbelief I might add - and since that article was written last week, I had nagging thoughts that I may have mistaken identities.

In the skit, Murray played a lounge singer named Nick Thinblood who was performing at an Indian Casino. He said he changed his name to Thinblood after discovering that he was 1/256th "Omagawli" Indian and eligible to receive a cut of the Indian casino's profits. At the end of the skit, Murray said "Thank you local Senator Chris Dodd for that lovely freeway off-ramp that gets everybody to the casino in record time" and suggested that Dodd arranged for the off-ramp after the tribe (or its partners) was "provided the opportunity to fund" a government project.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Connecticut Sun Basketball Team Undefeated In First Two Games

Feather News


The Mohegan Tribe's WNBA Connecticut Sun won their first two games of the regular season after beating the New York Liberty by a score of 77-63 today.

Connecticut Sun Basketball Team Beats Atlanta 100-67

Feather News


The Mohegan Tribe's WNBA Connecticut Sun basketball team won their first regular season game against the Atlanta Dream by a score of 100-67. Attendance at the Mohegan Sun Arena was reportedly 7,420.

The Connecticut Sun will play the New York Liberty at 4 p.m. today in Madison Square Garden.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Mohegan Sun Slot Revenue Fell 5% In April

Feather News


Mohegan Sun's slot revenue fell for the 8th consecutive month in April when the casino saw a 5% decline when compared to April of the prior year. Foxwoods' slot revenue reportedly fell by 11% in April.

Foxwoods' MGM Grand Casino To Open Late Saturday Night

Feather News
Updated


A ribbon-cutting will be held at 11 p.m. Saturday night for the opening of the new $700 million MGM Grand casino at Foxwoods. The new casino - on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation, about 10 miles from Mohegan Reservation - will open its doors one hour later at midnight.

The new 4,000-seat MGM Grand Theater will feature Gloria Estefan from Friday through Sunday. No seat in the theatre will be further than 126 feet from the stage.

The United Auto Workers union said they will picket the opening because they claim Foxwoods is refusing to bargain with them. Dealers at Foxwoods voted last fall to join the UAW. The UAW will picket between noon and 11 p.m. on Saturday and between 9 a.m. and noon on Sunday.

Tribes In The Media Series: MGM Grand At Foxwoods

In the Tribes In The Media series, we reprint an article we came across on the Foxwoods expansion in the British magazine The Economist. After this article was printed, a The Economist later issued a correction on May 22, 2008 that stated: "In a piece on gambling (“Bringing Vegas to the east”, May 17th) we wrongly stated that Standard & Poor's had downgraded its rating on Mohegan Sun. Instead, it changed the outlook on its rating from stable to negative."


Bringing Vegas to the east
May 15th 2008
From The Economist print edition

An Indian casino hopes to add some grand gambolling to its gambling


WITH its turquoise towers bursting from the Connecticut trees, Foxwoods casino is oddly reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz's Emerald City. It has recently added some Las Vegas surreality by going into partnership with MGM Mirage, owner of some of Vegas's biggest casinos, including the Bellagio and Luxor. The opening, planned for May 17th, promises to bring more of that Nevada glitz. John Mayer and Alicia Keys are performing in a new auditorium modelled on Hollywood's Kodak theatre. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are coming. Sean “Diddy” Combs is hosting an exclusive after-party at “Diddy's Den”.

Foxwoods, already North America's largest resort casino, is hoping that its $700m expansion will add glamour, raise hospitality standards and bring in more punters. The partnership is really a licensing agreement. Foxwoods will continue to own and manage the new facility; MGM receives a percentage of the earnings and acts as a consultant. David Schwartz of the Centre for Gaming Research says it will also bring in its player database, specifically its Vegas high-rollers.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation opened its first bingo hall in 1986 and its Foxwoods casino in 1992. Today it has 40,000 visitors daily, most coming from next-door Massachusetts. Other Indian tribes have had similar agreements, as Alan Meister, an economist with Analysis Group, points out. Harrah's, the largest gambling company in the world, has linked up with tribes in Arizona and California. What makes MGM's foray different, he says, is that Foxwoods is already established. Gillian Murphy, general manager of MGM Grand at Foxwoods, is hoping to keep current visitor numbers but also to attract New Yorkers. According to one industry report, a mere 9% of its patrons in 2007 came from New York, which is only two-and-a half hours away.

Among Indian casinos, Foxwoods and the nearby Mohegan Sun take in the most revenue from gaming in the country: some $2.4 billion in 2007. Connecticut's state coffers receive 25% of their net takings from slot machines. The payment totalled $430.5m last year, which is more than half the amount collected through the state's corporate income tax. “There has never been so much gaming in the north-east,” says Barry Cregan, president of Foxwoods. He points to new Indian casinos and racinos (racetrack-cum-casinos) in New York, and commercial racinos in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. But he thinks there is still room for growth. The Mohegan Sun, too, plans to expand by opening a new $925m hotel and casino by next year.

Standard and Poor's recently downgraded its outlook for Mohegan Sun because of the softness in the Connecticut gaming market. Slot machine revenues are down at both Mohegan and Foxwoods. Gambling has also dipped a bit in Atlantic City. Along the Las Vegas Strip, it fell 4.8% in March, the third consecutive monthly decline. But the folk at Foxwoods and Mohegan are still full of hope.

MTGA Issues Quarterly Financial Statements

Feather News


The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority filed its quarterly financial statements with the Securities Exchange Commission covering the period of January 1, 2008 through March 31, 2008.

Two weeks ago, MTGA released its income statement for the above period. In addition to the income statement, the new filing includes its balance sheet and statement of cash flows as well as notes on the financial statements.

The link to the new filing is included in the right hand column of this blog under the "Other Sites" heading: "1) Unaudited Casino (MTGA) Financial Statements Per SEC: Jan 2008 through Mar 2008."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Tribal Government Offices Closed Tomorrow

Feather News

Tribal government offices will be closed tomorrow for Federal Recognition Day.

N.Y. Senate Leader: Racetrack VLT Slot Operator To Be Named Within 10 Days

Feather News


New York Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the winning proposal for operating the proposed VLT slot parlor at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, N.Y., will be named in a week to ten days, according to the Thoroughbred Times.

The Mohegan Tribe is a member of one of the three groups bidding on the 30-year franchise. The three groups presented proposals in April on their plan to operate a4,500-VLT slot machine parlor and Bruno is now awaiting the governor's recommendation, according to reports.

See related article:
http://feathernews.blogspot.com/2008/05/mohegan-bid-to-operate-vlt-slot.html

Photo: Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs

Photo: Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs

Pennsylvania Lawmakers Discuss Table Games

Feather News


A bill that would add table games to Pennsylvania's slot parlors is being discussed today by the Gaming Oversight Committee in the state's House of Representatives.

It seems as though the bill has little chance of being approved any time soon as lawmakers are mired in discussions on the state gaming board's oversight role and the governor's statements that he would reject table games before the success and impact of slot machines can be assessed.

The bill calls for a $10 million payment to the state for a slot parlor's right to add table games and a half-million dollar annual renewal fee. The games would be taxed at a 28% rate under the proposed law.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Photo: Earth Hotel Groundbreaking: Dan Akroyd

Photo: Earth Hotel Groundbreaking: Akroyd And Tribal Councilors Push Plunger

Photo: Earth Hotel Groundbreaking: Sun CEO Mitchell Etess

Earth Hotel Groundbreaking Held Today

Feather News
Updated


Today's groundbreaking of the 39-story Earth Hotel, slated to become the tallest building in Connecticut, didn't involve shovels and dirt but a plunger that was pushed by comedian and actor Dan Akroyd and tribal councilors.

Akroyd is a co-founder of the House of Blues.

Out of the 919 rooms planned for the hotel, 261 will be House of Blues-themed rooms. The House of Blues will also own and operate a 250-seat restaurant and a 1,500-capacity music hall.

The hotel will also include a spa and fitness center.

The Earth Hotel will be connected to the Earth Casino by a 320-foot long concourse and a 480-foot long concourse will connect the hotel to the Sky Hotel and Casino. The concourses will include dining and retail outlets. The casino is currently seeking food-and-beverage outlets, according to Mohegan Sun CEO Mitchell Etess.

Also part of the expansion is the Casino of the Wind, a 64-000 square-foot "gaming and entertainment" complex that will feature 680 slot machines, 28 table games and 42 poker tables, according to today's press release. Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" restaurant and the return of the "Chief's Deli" (or "Chef's Deli" according to the press release) will also be included in the Casino of the Wind's Fall 2008 opening.

In February, the tribe announced that 826 slot machines would be added in the expansion but today's press release states that 680 slot machines will be inluded in the new Casino of the Wind. The Feather is awaiting clarification by the tribe.

Note: The number of slot machines to be included in the Casino of the Wind was later confirmed to be about 670 slots give or take up to 5 machines.

Photo: Earth Entrance Construction

Mashantucket Pequot Credit Rating Lowered

Feather News


The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's credit rating was lowered yesterday by the credit rating agency Moody's Investor's Service on expectations that it will take longer for the tribe to reduce its debt leverage.

No decision has yet been made to the Mohegan's credit rating since Moody's announced in February that the tribe's Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority was under review for a possible credit downgrade. Last week, however, another credit rating agency, Standard & Poors, lowered MTGA's credit outlook from stable to negative.

Moody's said "lower-than-expected operating results caused by a slowing economy and increased competition in the Northeast United States along with significant construction-related debt, will make it more difficult than previously projected to significantly reduce leverage during fiscal 2008" for the Mashantuckets.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Coffee Hour With Councilors On Wednesday

Feather News


The occasional "Coffee Hour With Councilors" session will take place this Wednesday between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. in the tribal offices. Last month's "Coffee Hour With Councilors" session was canceled.

The session permits tribal members to ask questions of their councilors, unlike the tribal council meeting, which follows at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

The groundbreaking for the Earth Casino is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The Feather News was told that if tribal members went near the outside of the "earth entrance" to the casino (which is now closed), they would be able to witness the groundbreaking.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Groundbreaking Set For Wednesday For Mohegan Sun's New Hotel

Feather News


A groundbreaking ceremony will be held on Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. for the 919-room hotel to be built on the Mohegan reservation.

In November 2006, tribal officials announced that a 1,000-room hotel would be part of a $740 million expansion. Then, in December 2007, the tribe announced that the expansion was projected to cost $925 million while the number of hotel rooms would be scaled back to 922. In February, the tribe received permission to spend $950 million on the expansion while, last week, the number of hotel rooms was apparently trimmed by 3 to the current projected figure of 919 hotel rooms.

The hotel, to be called the Earth Hotel, is scheduled to open in 2010.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Gaming Authority Credit Outlook Downgraded From Stable To Negative

Feather News


The credit rating agency Standard & Poors downgraded the credit outlook for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority yesterday from "stable" to "negative."

The announcement was made one day after MTGA released its second quarter earnings report which showed a 21% drop in profits for the quarter. S&P maintained their credit rating grade of "BB-" for MTGA.

A second major credit rating agency, Moody's, announced in February that it was also reviewing MTGA's credit rating.

A downgrade in the tribe's credit rating increases the amount they would otherwise pay to borrow money. The tribe has already secured financing for their current expansions at the Pennsylvania slot parlor and at Mohegan Sun on the reservation in Connecticut and will not be affected but anticipated borrowings in 2009 would likely be affected by a downgrade.

MTGA must repay $330 million related to its Sunburst expansion debt in the summer of 2009 as well as some borrowings related to partnerships with other tribes to establish casinos that have not yet come to fruition, which is expected to bring the total amount to be repaid in excess of $350 million. It is likely that MTGA will need to secure additional financing in order to repay the full amounts that come due next year.

Tribal Government Allows Empoyees To Access Feather News

Feather News
Updated


The tribe yesterday once again allowed all tribal government employees to access the Feather News, blaming the morning blackout on a software update.

Unfortunately, links to articles in the column on the right-hand side of this site are not accessible in the tribal government offices. These Googled articles from the local and national press covering primarily the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes form an integral part of the overall coverage provided to members through this site.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Access To Feather News Website Blocked By Tribal Government

Feather News


We have just been informed that the Feather News can no longer be accessed from the tribal government offices as can still be done for independent media outlets run by non-Mohegans. We are also told that access to the website has also been blocked in the casino.

It would be helpful if readers could send us a comment or email us at kennethdavison1@hotmail.com once (if) access is restored.

Part 2 Mohegan 2Qtr Earnings: Tribe Reports 21% Drop In Quarterly Net Income

Feather News


Tribal members are a diverse group and we acknowledge the difficulty in presenting financial news that is both understandable and relevant to such a broad group.

Overview

The tribe's business arm, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority or MTGA, files a complete set of financial statements with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) four times a year. Each of those reporting periods is for three months which is why they are called quarterly filings. The fourth and last filing of the fiscal year (which begins every October 1st and ends September 30th) includes financial statements that have been reviewed by an independent auditor. Sometimes this is also referred to as the audit report. None of these SEC filings includes information on the tribal government operations, which is a separate entity from MTGA, except largely for the amounts of money reimbursed or transferred to the tribal government.

There are three components to a complete set of financial statements: a balance sheet, an income statement and a statement of cash flows. Prior to MTGA's release of the complete set of financial statements, a press release will be issued that gives the public a glimpse at the income statement, also called the quarterly earnings. That is what ocurred yesterday. The full set of financial statements are expected to be issued within two weeks.

MTGA Profits and Adjusted Profits

What did yesterday's quarterly earnings show? Well, there is always one figure that is looked at first and that is the "bottom line", also known as the earnings or net income or profit. The quarterly earnings report issued yesterday showed a bottom line of $33.5 million, a 21% drop from the same quarter last year. In other words, this was the profit for the three-month period of January 1st to March 31st.

Of course the income statement has many numbers but I'm sure you would agree that this one number is the most important by far. Neither the New London Day, Hartford Courant or Norwich Bulletin reported this profit figure in their articles on yesterday's earnings. They rarely do.

As mentioned in yesterday's article, "Part 1 Mohegan 2Qtr Earnings", this bottom line (or profit) figure does not take into account two important figures that are important for us as tribal members to properly analyze the profits.

Both of the figures that we should take into account are about the same amount, which makes it easier to remember: MTGA expects to distribute $80 million to the tribal government this year and was projected to pay our former management company (Trading Cove) about $80 million this year based on their 5% cut of Mohegan Sun revenues. So three months' worth of these amounts comes to $20 million. Keep in mind that, for accounting purposes none of that $20 million distribution to the tribal government is deducted from profits but about $7 million of the estimated $20 million owed to Trading Cove has already been deducted. In other words, out of the $40 million of the above two costs, $7 million has already been deducted so we need to further reduce the reported "bottom line" by $33 million that hasn't been accounted for. What is left over if you reduce the reported $33.5 million in reported profits (see "bottom line" figure above) by that $33 million? Its not much (less than $1 million) but that is what we call the "adjusted" profits, and you may want to think of it as the amount left over hypothetically to assist in repaying MTGA's debt (currently at $1.37 billion).

Other Considerations

There are other factors that should be taken into account that may brighten the picture somewhat and we will cover that once the complete financial statements are issued within a week or two. That discussion will involve depreciation and capital improvements, which kind of balance each out but will help in better understanding MTGA's financial picture.

Another factor that should be taken into account is that we may be paying Trading Cove slightly less than $80 million this year - due to lower than anticipated revenues - and we will report that to you but it certainly isn't materially less and, for educational purposes, it is easier to remember at this point that the amount is about the same amount that MTGA distributes to the tribal government.

Drilling Down

The profit number and the adjusted profit number is a good starting point to begin an analysis on the income statement. How else can you get oriented without knowing the profit and adjusted profit figures, which the New London Day and Hartford Courant neglects to report?

In the case of the three months that just ended we can come to the conclusion that there's not that much money remaining after taking into account all relevant costs. In Part 3 of this series "Mohegan 2Qtr Earnings," we'll cover the income statement in further detail but until Part 3 is written - we'll shoot for today - read the New London Day and Hartford Courant articles for more details. How's that for contrarian thinking? And, of course, one should read the tribe's press release on its earnings.

Keep in mind when reading the articles that "revenues" do not take into account any expenses. Just to provide two examples, revenues for slot machines is the money lost by customers (also called the casino "win" and is the money that goes into the machines less the amounts paid out to customers) and revenues for restaurants are what the customers pay for their meals before any operating expenses are deducted.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Feather News File Photos

Feather News

The Feather News' file photos of tribal councilors primarily include photos from a recent tribal event. All councilors are invited to substitute these photos by sending them to kennethdavison1@hotmail.com.

Rhode Island Lawmakers Override Governor's Veto To Allow 24-Hour Gambling

Feather News


Rhode Island lawmakers approved 24-hour gambling on weekends and holidays at the two Rhode Island slot parlors yesterday, overturning Tuesday's veto by Governor Don Carcieri.

The Senate voted 24-8 and the House 51-16 to overturn the governor's veto, which now allows both Newport Grand and Twin River slot parlors to stay open 24-hours on holidays and weekends, beginning this weekend.

The Mohegan Sun has not yet released its slot figures for the month of April but sources suggest that the declines are continuing. In addition to the usual factors contributing to the recent declines, the month of May will see the opening of a new MGM casino at Foxwoods and the new 24-hour weekend and holiday slot play at the two Rhode Island slot parlors.

The new 24-hour law expires in June 2009 and can only be extended after that date if renewed by state lawmakers.

Part I Mohegan 2Qtr Earnings: Tribe Reports 21% Drop In Quarterly Net Income

By Ken Davison


The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority issued a press release today reporting a 21% decrease in quarterly net income (profit) when compared to the same period last year. Net income was $33.5 million for the three month quarter reported upon, which is from January 1 through March 31.

This article is a brief flash of the quarterly earnings and is not designed to be a full description of the earnings report, however, a more detailed article will appear soon. The complete income statement, which shows revenues and expenses, and balance sheet has not yet been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The quarterly net income (profit) of $33.5 million does not take into account the amount MTGA distributes to the tribal government. The tribal government expects to receive $80 million from MTGA in distributions in Fiscal Year 2008, therefore three months' worth is the equivalent of $20 million. This amount has not been deducted from MTGA's net income (profit).

The full quarterly fee that is paid to the tribe's former management company (Trading Cove), 5% of revenues at Mohegan Sun, has not been deducted from MTGA's net income (profit) due to the accounting treatment of the 15-year contract.

Gross slot revenues, which is the largest component of revenues (before any expenses are deducted) were $253 million for the three-month period, a 2.7% decrease from last year. Table game revenues (before any expenses are deducted) were $102 million, representing a 6.4% increase over last year while non-gaming revenues were $68.7 million (11.6% increase over last year).

Total debt was $1.37 billion as of March 31st. The weighted average interest rate for the six months that ended March 31 was 7.3% compared to 7.4% for the same period last year.

A conference call with financial analysts will be held at 1 p.m. today.

The Tribe In The Media: Mohegan Comes Under Scrutiny In Pennsylvania

Feather News
Updated with footnote at end of article


Last week Pennsylvania State Senator Jeffrey Piccola requested the investigative backgound and suitability report on the Mohegan's Pocono Downs application for a gaming license from that state's gaming board. Instead of receiving that report, a lobbyist from the Mohegan Tribe showed up at the senator's office asking what the senator was concerned about, which only triggered a new concern. Specifically, Sen. Piccola questioned why a lobbyist was tipped off by the gaming board to his request for information.

An article in today's Pocono Record newspaper perhaps sheds light on the senator's initial concern, which is why certain relationships were not disclosed by the Tribe in its application for a gaming license or in the required annual updates to that initial application. The license of one slot parlor operator, the owner of the Mount Airy Casino, has been suspended for not disclosing certain relationships and has called into question the ability of the state's gaming board to effectively regulate the industry. Now, according to the article, it seems that Mohegan will have to defend its reasoning for not disclosing its relationship with Dennis Troha (until his indictment), a former partner in the proposed Menominee Tribe casino in Wisconsin.

Note: Any references to the tribe above refers to the tribe's business arm, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority. All gaming endeavors by the tribe are conducted under MTGA or subsidiaries of MTGA.

The Pocono Record article follows:
http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080507/NEWS/805070347

Mohegan Linked To Corrupt Wisconsin Developer
By Howard Frank
Pocono Record newspaper
May 07, 2008

Pennsylvania gaming regulators didn't know about Wilkes-Barre slots operator Mohegan Sun's relationship with a corrupt developer in Wisconsin.

The board suspended the gaming license of Mount Airy owner Louis DeNaples when he was accused of hiding his connection with reputed underworld figures. No such action has been taken against Mohegan yet, but the company did cut its ties to the developer.

Mohegan Sun, a category 1 slots licensee, also operates Pocono Downs racetrack and four off-track wagering sites, including one in East Stroudsburg.

Regulators require Pennsylvania slots licensees to update their initial gaming applications yearly. Board officials said they had no knowledge of Mohegan's dealings with the developer as late as last week.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs is owned by Downs Racing, which in turn is owned by the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribal Indians. They ran into trouble while trying to expand their gaming operations into Wisconsin.

Wisconsin licensing officials discovered Mohegan's developer was being investigated in connection with a scheme to secure the approval of Wisconsin's governor for an $800 million casino. The developer, Dennis Troha, was indicted for illegal campaign contributions in March 2007, and pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in June of that year.

The developer's guilty plea came after Mohegan Sun's Pennsylvania category 1 slots license was approved. But an investigation by Wisconsin authorities revealed wrongdoings and mob ties going back long before the partnership began in 2002.

Section 1326 of Pennsylvania's gaming law requires licensees to keep their initial applications up to date annually. According to the legislation, "The application for renewal shall include an update of the information contained in the initial and any prior renewal applications. ..."

Troha was Mohegan's partner in the Kenosha casino project in Kenosha. Troha was indicted by the federal government in 2007 for funneling campaign contributions through family and friends and lying to the FBI.

Troha was the sole owner of Kenesah Gaming, a company formed to secure a contractor license and land a deal from the state of Wisconsin for gaming in Kenosha. The company received financing from Troha, the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Mohegan Tribal Indians of Connecticut.

Mohegan was trying to expand into Wisconsin, which only allows tribal gaming. In order to secure a deal, they needed the governor's approval for a land agreement with the local Menominee Indian Tribe and Mohegan.

The incumbent governor of Wisconsin, Jim Doyle, was running for re-election in 2006.

According to the indictment, Troha 'loaned' about $50,000 to a business he controlled, Johnson Houston Partners in 2005 and 2006. At the same time, several Troha relatives issued checks to the "Doyle for Governor" campaign totaling $47,500. Johnson Houston Partners issued checks to those relatives for the exact amounts of their contributions. The "loans" were never repaid.

Troha was also charged with making false statements to the FBI as part of its investigation into the campaign contribution scheme.

Troha pleaded guilty to a separate charge of exceeding campaign contribution limits to President George W. Bush, and to the Democratic Party in June 2007. He was sentenced to six months of probation and given no monetary fine. The charges in connection with the Wisconsin gubernatorial contributions were dropped.

Subsequently, several of Troha's former associates pleaded guilty to similar charges.

This year, according to published reports, Kenosha County Executive Allan Kehl, a strong public proponent of the casino project, resigned his position and pleaded guilty to receiving $15,000 in bribes from Troha for his work related to the Kenosha casino project.

Troha's activities were discovered by gaming authorities in Wisconsin during an investigation tied to his company's application for a gaming license. The license application was subsequently withdrawn.

Troha is a former trucking company owner who, according to published reports, was worth $33 million.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the entity which licenses and oversees slots gaming in Pennsylvania, said it had no knowledge of Troha's relationship to Mohegan Sun. It is not apparent whether Mohegan Sun, which received its license before Troha's guilty pleas, ever disclosed its relationship with the developer and former trucking company owner.

Pennsylvania Gaming Board Chairman Judge Mary DiGiacomo Colins said that she didn't recall seeing any information regarding Troha. But Colins said if the board's investigative arm, the Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement, was looking into Troha's ties with Mohegan Sun, she wouldn't become aware of it until and unless a report was issued by the bureau.

A spokesperson for the board could not say whether the annual renewal required a slots licensee to disclose such a relationship.

But the initial gaming application in Pennsylvania requires the applicant to disclose any relationship with those accused of crimes. It asks "Has applicant or any of its officers, directors/partners or trustees ever been indicted, charged with or convicted of a criminal offense or been a party to or named as an unindicted co-conspirator in any criminal proceeding in the commonwealth or any other jurisdiction?"

Troha and the Mohegan Indian Tribe were both investors in Kenesah Gaming, although the Pennsylvania regulations may not consider this a partnership arrangement. They may also not interpret the Mohegan Indian Tribe as owners of the licensed entity in Pennsylvania, even though they own the 99 percent stakeholder in Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The board suspended Mount Airy owner Louis DeNaples' gaming license following his indictment by a Dauphin County prosecutor of lying about his relationship with reputed mobsters. The board appointed a trustee, Dr. Anthony Ceddia, to oversee the casino. They also banned DeNaples from any involvement in the business, and from physically stepping into the casino or its related properties. Mount Airy opened in October 2007 with 2,525 slot machines, the state's first and still only category 2 standalone slots casino. DeNaples oversaw the casino for less than two and a half months before his license was suspended.

End of Pocono Record article.


Note: The ongoing "Tribe In The Media" series occasionally reprints selected articles that we come across in the non-Indian press in order for tribal members to witness how the tribe is portrayed in the media. It has been brought to our attention that, since the posting of this Pocono Record newspaper article, some tribal councilors have questioned its accuracy. We are looking into exactly what was said by our tribal councilors out of curiosity but, let's be clear, it is up to the tribal council to respond to any innacuracies in the national media. The Feather News simply "cut and pasted" the article. At least three other media outlets, all widely read, reprinted the same Pocono Record article on May 7th: Indian Country Today, The Falmouth Institute and Indianz.com Thousands of Pennsylvanians read the Pocono Record, which is the main, local newspaper in the Pocono Mountains. We feel it is not only the job of the tribal council but it is their responsibility to respond to the Pocono Record to point out any statements made in that newspaper that they feel are inaccurate. We will monitor that Pennsylvania newspaper and keep our readers posted on the tribal council's response.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority To Issue Quarterly Earnings Report Tomorrow

Rhode Island Governor Vetoes 24-Hour Gambling Bill

Feather News


Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri vetoed recent legislation that would have allowed the state's two slot parlors to remain open 24-hours on weekends and holidays.

Gov. Carcieri said that residents should have a say in the matter. Last November, a non-binding referendum that would have permitted 24-hour gambling at Twin River, located in the town of Lincoln, was not approved by Lincoln voters.

See related articles:
http://feathernews.blogspot.com/2008/04/rhode-island-allows-24-hour-slot-play.html

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kansas City Awards First Of Four Casinos To Penn National

Feather News


A contract was approved for Penn National Gaming to operate a casino for Cherokee County, one of four casinos planned in Kansas.

No action has yet to be taken in awarding casinos for three other regions in the state, including the Wyandotte County-Kansas City are where the Mohegan Tribe is part of a bidding group.

The Penn National Gaming casino, to be called Hollywood Casino, was the only proposal submitted for Cherokee County. The Penn National casino must still recieve approved by a casino selection committee.

Penn National proposed a $225 million casino that would begin 30 table games and 900 slot machines, eventually expanding to 1,500 machines. Other amenities include a bar, buffet and possibly a 200-room hotel later.

Mohegan Bid To Operate VLT Slot Machines At NY Racetrack In Final Decision Stage

By Ken Davison
Updated


The state of New York has a new governor and the Mohegans have submitted a new, scaled back bid to operate VLT slot machines at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, N.Y.

Three groups are now said to be competing for the right to operate VLT slot machines at the racetrack, down from six groups that submitted bids last Fall.

The Mohegan Tribe has partnered with Capital Play, a team of Australian racetrack executives, and two other companies: a hedge fund and a real estate development company. The Mohegan partnership is now competing against two other groups, which include the Seminole Tribe and Delaware North.

The state's plan is to have 4,500 VLT machines (similar to slot machines) installed in the Aqueduct racetrack and the state will kick in $250 million toward construction.

The winning bidder, who will be awarded a 30-year lease, is expected to be selected in a matter of weeks and a spokesperson for the governor has stated that he wants the VLT slot machine facility operting within a year from the selection. The selection will be made by Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Senate Majority Leader, Joseph Bruno.

The group that includes the Mohegan Tribe offered the state $100 million for a license fee and $150 million in the initial construction phase followed by a $700 million phase two development that would include a hotel and mall and would take place within a couple of years. In addition to the team of Australian racetrack executives, the group also includes a New York real estate developer and Plainfield Asset Management, a hedge fund. The group said it would spend up an additional $30 million per year on marketing on top of the state's requirements.

The Mohegans formed a company called Mohegan Gaming, LLC specifically for the purpose of bidding on the Aqueduct gaming franchise. Mohegan Gaming is a subsidiary of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA).

Another group comprised of Delaware North and Saratoga Harness Racing has said it would pay the state a $370 million licensing fee upfront and develop the site only using the state's $250 million development incentive. Delaware North operates a racino in Saratoga Springs

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, through its Hardrock subsidiary which it purchased in 2006, and third bidding group includes Hard Rock International, which was acquired by the Seminole Tribe of Florida in 2006, along with the real estate firm SL Green, is offering to pay the state $250 million in licensing fees, $130 million toward construction development and would spend about $29 million to finance upstate N.Y. horse farms and breeding. The group also said it would spend $30 million to $100 million on capital improvements over the term of the lease. A Hardrock cafe would be added in a second phase.

The bid process is secret thus it is not known which other firms are bidding for the franchise. It was rumored that the bid process was, however, opened back up since last Fall's deadline.

The Mashantucket Pequot, Seneca and Shinnecock tribes submitted bids last Fall as well as Empire Racing and Excelsior Racing, which includes casino magnate Steve Wynn. None of these groups were among those named as having presented recent proposals to the trio of politicians that will select who wins the franchise.

According to a spokesperson for Senator Bruno, "Working with the governor and the Assembly, we expect to be able to make a selection by Tuesday, May 6." That date, as other declared deadlines in the process, appears flexible.

One racetrack close to New York City opened its VLT slot parlor in October 2006.Yonker's Raceway in Yonkers, N.Y., now has 5,300 VLT slot machines. Empire City at Yonkers Raceway, the facility's official name, plans to increase that number to 7,500 VLT slot machines, which would make it the largest racetrack-based slots operation in the nation. Management at the two Indian casinos in Connecticut have repeatedly said the Yonker's operation has affected their slot revenues and another facility at Aqueduct would have an additional impact.

The fact that New York has a new governor is certainly to the advantage of the Mohegan group, which ran commercials last Fall criticizing the Governor Elliot Sptizer's selection of New York Racing Assocation to continute running the state's racetracks. It is not known how such a public rebuke of the governor could possibly have been advantageous to the group in its bid for the Aqueduct VLT slot franchise.

But now that Gov. Spitzer has been replaced by David Paterson, the Mohegan group now has a realistic chance in the franchise bidding process.



See related article:
http://feathernews.blogspot.com/2008/01/by-ken-davison-in-new-yorks-capital.html

Friday, May 2, 2008

Foxwoods Workers Reject Union In Yesterday's Vote

Feather News


Foxwoods dealers voted in favor of the United Auto Workers for representation last November but yesterday other workers, among them those working in the facilities and engineering departments, rejected the International Operating Engineers union in a vote of 215-67.

The National Labor Relations Board oversaw yesterday's voting of workers from five departments.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns the Foxwoods casino, is disputing the right of unions to negotiate on behalf of workers at the casino.

Pocono Downs Could See New Competition Soon

By Ken Davison
Updated


It is the tribe's hope that their Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor, located in Pennsylvania, will someday become profitable but additional competition is yet on the horizon.

Perhaps the next installment of about 1,300 slot machines will result in profits at that facility. In a press release, the tribe stated that after the current expansion is completed in August, the Pocono's facility will include "approximately 2,500 slot machines, three fine dining restaurants, a 300-seat buffet, a quick-serve dining area, 7,000 square feet of retail shopping, two nightlife venues."

The tribe, through its Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority business arm, paid about $300 million in acquisition costs for the property and is expected to spend close to another $300 million in total improvement costs (including the expansion that created the initial slot parlor and the current expansion). The $600 million estimated combined price tag for the facility does not include accumulated operating losses for the facility which, when combined with other diversification expenses such as the MTGA's "corporate" diversification department and the $50 million licensing fee paid to Pennsylvania, will add at least another $150 million in costs, bringing the grand total investment in Pocono Downs to over $750 million.

It is irrefutable that the tribe's slot parlor is currently losing money (which has more to do with the limited amount of slot machines currently in place and the excessive debt load related to the facility than the existing management, which executed an opening that tribal members can be proud of) and the question of future profitability cannot yet be answered. The additional 1,300 slot machines are not yet installed as the Pocono Downs' current expansion is expected to be completed in August.

Although additional machines will certainly help the facility, 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., was approved in 2006 and is expected to open in June 2009.

Sands Bethworks is slated to cost $800 million and include a 300-room hotel, a 3,800-person capacity concert/event center, a retail mall that will house 200,000 square feet of retail shopping and 8 restaurants while its slot parlor will open with 3,000 slot machines and expand to 5,000 machines after its first six months, according to CEO Sheldon Adelson.

Two applicants for slot parlors in the Pocono Mountains that are currently being reviewed by the state's gaming board will only be allowed up to 500 slot machines each and its customers, by state law, can only be those guests who are staying at the resorts' hotels. One of the 500-slot parlor applicants is Fernwood Resort, which could quickly install slot machines in its existing event center, and Split Rock Resort. A public hearing on Fernwood was held yesterday and Split Rock's hearing is being held today. Valley Forge Convention Center is third applicant, located in the city of King of Prussia, and is in competition with the two resorts for the two 500-slot "amenity" licenses available. A decison on which of the three applicants are awarded the two amenity licenes is expected this year.

Since Split Rock and Fernwood Resort, both of which are in the Pocono Mountains, would renovate existing spaces to accomodate slot parlors, which means their slot parlor rooms could be functioning within months of their approval by the state's gaming board.

See related article:
http://feathernews.blogspot.com/2008/03/blunder-in-mountains.html

Correction

In an April Feather News article, the age of Mohegan Medicine Woman Gladys Tantaquidgeon at the time of her death was misstated. Glady died at 106 years of age, not 102. The article has been corrected.