Thursday, October 30, 2008

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There will be no more postings until Monday, November 3rd. Happy Halloween everyone!

'Margaritaville' Group To Pay Lower Price For Atlantic City Casino

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Businessman Richard Fields agreed to buy the Trump Marina Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City last May for $316 million but that price has since been cut to $270 million.

Fields' Coastal Marina LLC plans to turn the Trump Marina property into a "Margaritaville" casino. It has been reported that singer Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville business arm will be part of that venture.

The original closing was scheduled for Tuesday but that date too has changed to May 28.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Tribe In The Media: R.I. Slot Parlor Payout Controversy

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is a Pawtucket Times article that reports on the controversy surrounding the state of Rhode Island's reporting of VLT slot machine results at its two racetracks.

Sasse disputes Barrow's casino payout report
By Jim Baron
Pawtucket Times
October 28, 2008

PROVIDENCE — It may be easier for a bettor to figure out a way to beat the house at Twin River or Newport Grand than to calculate what the average payout to winners is at the two slot parlors.

It is not arcane statistical permutations that present the difficulty, experts say, but the way Rhode Island’s gambling halls report their income and pay out, something Department of Revenue Director Gary Sasse acknowledges and says may change as soon as this week.

Professor Clyde Barrow of the Center for Policy Analysis (CFPA) at UMass Dartmouth caused a furor late last week when he issued a hotly disputed report — titled “Rhode Island Gaming a Bad Bet for Players” — which claimed that while virtually all slot machines and VLTs across the country pay out at a rate of about 92 percent of what they take in, Twin River and Newport Grand pay out only about 72 or 73 percent.

“Completely inaccurate” is the way Sasse, whose department oversees the lottery, describes Barrow’s report.

“It is clear he does not understand the payout structure at Rhode Island’s video slot machine venues,” Sasse said. “Rhode Island’s slot machine payouts average 92 percent, in line with other gaming venues Barrow studies, and is considered the industry standard.”

He says Barrow makes an “apples and oranges” comparison between the raw cash taken in and winnings awarded at Rhode Island’s facilities and the individual machine payouts at other gambling venues. But even he allows that it might not be all Barrow’s fault.

Barrow says he measured the “cash in/cash out” overall at each facility, which is the way Rhode Island reports its gambling results, but Sasse says that figure, which he acknowledges is in the 70 percent range, distorts the chances of a player winning at any individual machine, which he says is in the lower 90 percent range “completely consistent with industry standards.”

Joseph Wienert of the Gaming Industry Observer, a New Jersey-based online subscription information service that tracks casinos and other gambling operations across the country and keeps score on what they are taking in and paying out, said,
“Every gaming jurisdiction in the country reports their slot hold the same way except Rhode Island.” The hold is the amount the house keeps after winners have been paid.

“Rhode Island, for reasons they have not explained to us despite our attempts to find out, does not report this,” Weinert said. “This is unfortunate because the two Rhode Island racinos (a combination racetrack and slot parlor, like Twin River and Newport Grand, which offers simulcast racing from around the country) are unnecessarily penalized when comparing public slot reports.”

He noted that management of the facilities tell him their payout percentages “are very competitive and right in line with Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. They couldn’t afford not to be competitive with Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.

“I do not doubt for a second,” Weinert said, “that Twin River and Newport Grand do pay out somewhere between 90 and 92 percent. Casinos rely on repeat customers for the bulk of their business. If these two racinos paid out what Rhode Island’s (reports) show them to be paying out, they would have lost most of their customers long ago. They would be out of business because it’s a bad deal.”

So where is the discrepancy between the 70-some percent that is reported and the 90-some percent Sasse says is actually paid out?

“Good question,” Weinert responds. With the East Coast Slot Report his company puts out quarterly, he said, “We have tried to provide an apples-to-apples comparison and we have attempted in the past to have the RI Lottery explain exactly what they are calculating, but we have been unsuccessful in getting that information. We have encouraged them to report it the same as other jurisdictions, but it is yet to happen.”

Each edition of The East Coast Slot Report comes with a disclaimer that says “The Rhode Island Lottery does not report handle or calculate hold percentage according to industry norms. The Lottery says its video lottery terminals pay out at about 92 percent, but we must use the lower, official payout figures supplied by the Lottery.”

“There are two ways of measuring this,” Sasse explained, “one is payouts. On average, the payouts on our machines are 92 percent. The second thing that’s measured, and this is where the confusion comes in, is ‘cash in/cash out.’ We have cash in/cash out as shown on our website at about 70 percent.”

Cash in/cash out is the overall activity at the entire facility for a given period of time. Payout general refers to the performance of individual slot machines.
“What Mr. Barrow apparently did was compare our cash in/cash out to (individual) machine payouts, painting Rhode Island in a bad light,” Sasse said.

Rhode Island is required by law to report cash in/cash out, Sasse added, but he will work with Department of Revenue staff this week to start reporting individual machine payouts as well.

“When you measure payouts on machines, which are what people are most interested in because that indicates the odds of their winning, the odds of their winning is just as great in Rhode Island as they are at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun or any other casino.”

So, Sasse explained, if 100 people went into Twin River and dumped $100 each into various machines, they would walk back out with about 70 percent of what they came in with, but each individual machine will have paid out about 92 percent of whatever amount of money is put into it.

“By statute, and the direction of the auditor general, our website shows cash in/cash out, but after this episode one of the things I will be talking to the lottery director about” supplementing that with reports of the individual machine payouts.

Barrow wasn’t backing down on Monday. “We have all the raw data, going back to 1993, on which these calculations are based, which is the cash in/cash out, so we’ll stand by our numbers,” he said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know how they arrived at the numbers they put in their press release” which showed payouts as low as 88 percent but as high as 99 percent at various machines.

Feds Cut Interest Rates

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The Federal Reserve reduced a key interest rate by half a percentage point this afternoon. The federal funds rate, which is the interest rate banks charge on overnight loans, is now 1 percent.

The last time the federal funds rate was 1 percent was in 2003-2004. The funds rate has not been lower than 1 percent since 1958.

The Federal Reserve cut the interest rate, its second half-point rate reduction this month, to help revive the economy. In a statement, the Federal Reserve said, "the intensification of financial market turmoil is likely to exert additional restraint on spending, partly by further reducing the ability of households and business to obtain credit."

The interest rate cut was expected to be followed by a reduction by commercial banks in their prime lending rate.

In totally unrelated news, French President Nicolas Sarkozy lost a court case that sought to stop the sales of a retail voodoo kit that contained a doll in his likeness, needles and a guidebook. The court ruled that the kit "falls within the authorized boundaries of freedom of expression and humor."

NYC Mayor Sues To Stop Cigarette Sales On Long Island Reservation

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The Bloomberg administration is seeking an injunction to stop cigarette sales from wholesalers on the Poospatuck Indian Reservation on Long Island, N.Y., the closest Indian reservation to New York City.

New York City officials claim that cigarettes can only be sold by these wholesalers to residents living on the Reservation and is asking a federal court to bar eight of the largest cigarette wholesalers from selling to the general public.

City officials allege that bulk sales of cigarettes by these smoke shops are delivered by van to the city and distributed for resale, costing the city millions of dollars in lost tax revenues. According to the New York Times, "the State Department of Taxation and Finance said that the Poospatuck cigarette trade grew to 11.3 million cartons last year, up from 406,000 cartons in 1996."

The eight wholesalers listed as defendants in the lawsuit are said to control 95 percent of cigarette sales on the Reservation.

"In making off-reservation sales, including bulk transactions in which defendants sell vanloads of cigarettes on a daily basis, which are then trafficked into New York City for resale, defendants grow rich at the expense of tax-paying retailers and city and state taxpayers," lawyers for the city said in their papers seeking an injunction.

New York state and NYC city excise taxes on cigarettes are $4.25 per pack, pushing the price of cigarettes sold off the reservations as high as $9 per pack. Since the cigarettes sold on the Indian reservations do not charge taxes, many of these cigarettes are then re-sold in the city for $5 per pack or for fifty cents per individual cigarette.

N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg said cigarette sales on all of the Indian reservations in the state are costing the city and state $1 billion each year in tax revenue. The Poospatucks and Senecas sell most of the cigarettes of the seven tribes in the state.

The state has not tried to halt cigarette sales on Indian reservations in N.Y. since a 1997 Seneca Tribe protest that briefly closed the New York Thruway. The State Legislature recently passed a bill that enforce tax collection of cigarette sales on the reservations. The bill is now awaiting the signature or veto of Governor David A. Paterson.

Law enforcement closed down smoke shops run by a state-recognized Indian tribe in Connecticut, the Paugussett Tribe, and the federally-recognized Narragansett Tribe in Rhode Island.

Poospatuck Tribe Chief Harry Wallace sees the lawsuit as the city trying to interfere with lawful retail trade on the Reservation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daylight Savings Time Takes Effect This Sunday

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It will get darker an hour earlier Sunday evening as Daylight Savings Time means turning back clocks one hour at 2:00 a.m., which becomes 1:00 a.m.

Helped by the heavy winds on Saturday night, many trees in Uncasville have shed all their leaves. The foliage peaked about a week or two ago, around the time of the first frost, draining the reds and leaving mostly gold and yellow-tinted leaves among plenty of bare trees.

Casino Operator Adds Creditor Consulting Business

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A casino developer and operator of facilities in California and Nevada has added creditor consulting service to their portfolio of offerings.

Noting that creditors may end up playing a greater role in troubled casinos, including investors that hope to control casinos' operations, Nevada Gold & Casino Inc CEO Robert Sturges said, "We recognize that many management teams, boards, creditors and Native American tribes may find themselves in positions they never expected based on the severe fall-off in many gaming markets."

"We likewise recognize that many creditors may end up playing a much greater role in operating casino assets than they ever expected. We also realize that there’s a growing asset class of distressed debt investors that purchase gaming debt in an effort to gain control of the operating assets (casinos)."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yale News Reports New Insight On Grandfather Turtle

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Many North American creation stories are founded on the belief that the earth was carried out of the sea on the back of the turtle. The following Yale News article provides new insight as to the controversy surrounding how turtles actually developed their backs (their shell):

How the turtle got its shell
A paleontological mystery solved
By Divya Subrahmanyam
Yale News
October 22, 2008

Rudyard Kipling seems to have covered the bases with his “Just So” stories: how the camel got its hump, how the rhino got its skin, how the leopard got its spots.

But it seems that he forgot one. How did the turtle get its shell?

It is one of the oldest debates in paleontology, But two paleontologists, Walter Joyce, collections manager at the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and Spencer Lucas, of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, have put it to rest. Two decades ago, Lucas and his team unearthed a 210-million-year-old turtle shell in New Mexico. Divya Subrahmanyam shows how the analysis of those remains could help Joyce settle the age-old debate once and for all.

As far back as the 1800s, paleontologists put forth theories explaining how this bizarre reptile developed armor. One such scientist, George Cuvier, posited that the shell had developed from the ribs, flattening and fusing over time. Eventually, this became the dominant theory. But many modern paleontologists came to believe that the shell, which is now tightly fused with the ribs, was actually separate from the ribs and developed from hardened skin.

“It was an ongoing debate — as old as science is,” Joyce said.

Enter Lucas and Joyce.

Twenty years ago, Spencer Lucas and his team found a fragment of bone at their New Mexico dig site. At first, Lucas said, they thought it was a head spike from a type of dinosaur. But because the fragment seemed to be made up of multiple bones, he was unsure. After comparing it to other Triassic-era turtle fossils in a collection in Germany, though, they concluded that it was probably the neck spike of a turtle, and published a paper saying so.

Then, about three years ago, after returning many times to the site, Andrew Heckert, a member of the Lucas team, found many more fragments. This discovery contained not only more neck spikes, but shards of shell.

Lucas emailed Joyce photographs of the specimen. It didn’t take Joyce long to figure out that they belonged to a turtle fossil, making it the first Triassic-era turtle to be found in North America.

Putting together the pieces

Extrapolating from fragments no more than two inches across, Joyce said that the turtle would have been about 15 inches long in real life, with a shell about one millimeter thick.

More important, the underside of the shell revealed important facts about the turtle’s evolutionary history. Contrary to the beliefs of the paleontologists of yore, the ribs and vertebrae of a turtle are clearly visible and separate from the shell.

Though the modern turtle’s ribs and shell — which is made of dermal bone, just like the human skull — are tightly fused, Joyce said the new evidence makes it clear that the structure is a composite, rather than simply an expansion of the ribs as some have argued.

“Through evolution, through time, the two just came together, and the end product is that they’re fused,” Joyce said. “The further you go back in time, the less associated they are with each other.”

The evidence refutes assertions not only by paleontologists, but by embryologists, who operate under the assumption that embryology recapitulates evolution. Human embryos, for example, have gills and tails, mirroring the early stages of human evolution.

In turtles, the ribs and shell grow together from the beginning, which embryologists believe, by analogy, reflects early turtle evolution.

But Joyce said that the sequence of events in embryology often does not reflect what happened in evolution, an opinion supported by the turtle fossil. An alternative hypothesis would explain turtle embryological development over time: the ribs began to grow towards the skin, and instead of the shell growing off of the skin and then fusing with the ribs, evolution allowed it to save a step and the shell began to grow directly off of the ribs.

A more systematic search

Joyce said the finding’s significance is twofold. Not only does it provide solid evidence about the origin of the turtle shell, but it allows paleontologists to search less blindly for more turtle fossils.

Joyce said that prior to this find, Triassic turtle fossils were extremely rare, with only about eight throughout the world and none in North America, while fossils from the Tertiary and Jurassic periods abounded. This perplexed paleontologists­, since it is at odds with the idea that turtles have thick shells and large bodies, making them more likely to fossilize. Additionally, as aquatic animals, they are likely to be preserved in sediment, which then turns into sedimentary rock, the only type of rock that contains fossils.

But this fossil has an unusually thin shell and seems to be from a terrestrial mammal, Joyce said. It was more likely to be destroyed in fast-moving river environments, and the fragile bones were more likely to fall apart.

Now, Joyce said, paleontologists know to look for smaller specimens in order to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the turtle.

The next step?

Finding them, Joyce said.

“Where do turtles come from? We just have no idea,” he said.

Turtles are the only vertebrates about whose lineages paleontologists are clueless, due to a lack of transitional fossils, he said. Some hypothesize they are related to arcosaurs, which include dinosaurs, others guess they are related to lizards, and still others think they are the most basal of reptiles on the evolutionary totem pole.

He likened the search for turtles’ history to the debate about the origins of birds. That debate, he said, was settled 10 years ago, when scientists started finding so-called “feathered dinosaurs” in China. The connection between those specimens and modern birds was tight enough that it is now almost universally accepted.

“Nowadays there are more and more people doing paleontology, looking in the Triassic, maybe the Permian, in hopes of finding their ancestors,” Joyce said.

But he said he could not set a timeline for this discovery.

“It took us 200 years to get here!” he said with a laugh. “So it might be next year or it might be 50 years from now. It’ll be cool when it happens, that’s all I can say.”

Joyce only has two weeks left as Vertebrate Collections Manager at the Peabody, he said.

He has accepted a junior professorship in paleontology from the University of Tübingen in Germany. But he will still maintain some of his Yale ties: He will continue to work with Tyler Lyson GRD ’12.

Together, they are performing a comprehensive review of turtle species from the late Cretaceous era, which occurred before the extinction of the dinosaurs, and those from the early Paleocene era, which occurred after their extinction, in order to see how turtles responded to whatever killed off the dinosaurs. Lyson said they are trying to determine the proportion of turtles that survived, and whether there are patterns of response among different species.

As far as they can tell, though, turtles seem to have outlasted the dinosaurs.

“Turtles don’t care!” Joyce said jokingly. “The lame dinosaurs go extinct, but the cool turtles survive.”

The Tribes In The Media: Mashpee Wampanoag

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a Boston Globe article that describes a lawyer's influence on the Mashpee Wampanoage Tribe.

In The Seat Of Wampanoags' Power
By Sean Murphy
Boston Globe
October 26, 2008

MASHPEE - As a founding father of the modern Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, lawyer William A. McDermott Jr. cuts an unlikely figure.

He is not a member of the tribe, nor even a Native American. But the heavy-set, glad-handing Dorchester political operative is arguably the single most powerful figure in the fractured Mashpee Wampanoag government.

He wrote the Mashpee Wampanoag constitution. He engineered the defeat of a hostile tribal council candidate. He even helped banish dissenters from the annual powwow.

And above all, he is using political skills honed in the wards of Boston and Chelsea to keep the tribal government functioning during its quest for a $1 billion resort casino in Middleborough.

Even McDermott's old friends are surprised at the role he has developed as the tribe's powerful enforcer.

"Billy's gainfully employed? That's a good thing," joked Daniel F. Pokaski, chairman of the Boston Licensing Board. "I'm not sure how much experience he has with Indian tribes, but I hope they are paying him well."

Critics within the tribe say McDermott is doing the bidding of the wealthy international gambling executives who have invested more than $10 million into the tribe's casino plans.

"McDermott is running the show, sent here by the investors - and getting a good piece of the pie, too, I assume," said Amelia Bingham, a critic of the 13-member Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council whose "shunning" from tribal activities was coordinated by McDermott.

But McDermott's defenders say he always puts the tribe's interests first.

"His commitment to the tribe is impeccable, without suspicion," said Gayle Andrews, a tribal member and spokeswoman for the tribal council. "He's always there for the tribe."

McDermott, 62, declined requests to comment. Scott Ferson, who heads a Boston public relations firm hired by the tribe, said McDermott has a contract with the tribe and is paid undisclosed fees. Nearly all of the tribe's budget, according to publicly filed financial records through 2005, is funded by payments from the tribe's outside investors, a partnership that includes gambling executives Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman.

His role is becoming increasingly important now that the tribe has formally asked Governor Deval Patrick to begin negotiations for an agreement. Such a pact under federal law terms would exchange the state's blessing for a casino for a state share of the winnings. Patrick rejected the overture as premature, but negotiations may be months away.

Maintaining a veneer of trust in the tribe and its billion-dollar gambling enterprise is not always easy. The Mashpee Wampanoag government has been beset by negative news that has highlighted the high degree of internal turmoil and a lack of professional administrators at the helm.

Glenn Marshall, the former tribal chairman, resigned last year after admitting he lied about details of his military career and following disclosure of a 1981 rape conviction. His successor, Shawn Hendricks, is embroiled in a messy divorce. He admitted in court to using steroids and his wife had a restraining order against him for several months this year.

Meanwhile, the finances of the tribal council remain under the scrutiny of the Internal Revenue Service and the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley after some tribal members made allegations of money being misused or missing. McDermott is scrambling to get the tribe's required financial filings as a public charity up to date.

When visited unannounced at his law office in West Roxbury, McDermott declined to comment.

A specialist in state election law, McDermott has counseled and befriended many Democratic politicians, including US Representatives William Delahunt and Stephen Lynch. He grew up in Savin Hill, earned his law degree at Suffolk University, and learned his trade as a Boston election commissioner. He later served on the Boston Redevelopment Board, and then as city lawyer in Chelsea.

In 1993, he worked on the losing mayoral campaign of one of his Savin Hill neighbors, James T. Brett.

"There's no one better with numbers - he's the legend, the best," said Brett, president of the New England Council, which promotes economic growth. "You ask him how many voters in Ward 13, precinct 10, and he knows it off the top of his head."

Edward Jesser, a political consultant, said he and McDermott on many occasions have amiably whiled away the evening hours and finally closed the bar of Doyle's pub in Jamaica Plain. "He's smart and works hard, and he's great company, too," he said.

Now, after almost 35 years of slogging it in places where Indians were thought to be a baseball team from Cleveland, he has landed deep-pocket clients that generate a steady stream of work.

And it means McDermott can claim something none of his Dorchester peers can. The Mashpee Wampanoag are a sovereign nation, with its own constitution, and McDermott was one of the two lawyers who drafted it. While that may not put him on a par with John Adams, who drafted the Massachusetts constitution, it does give him broad powers as a top specialist on tribal government affairs.

His work for the tribe dates at least to 2002, when he persuaded the town of Mashpee to support the Wampanoags' bid for federal recognition as a tribe. In exchange, the tribal council agreed not to open a casino in the Cape Cod town.

"That agreement is as much his as anyone's," recalled Mashpee Selectman John Cahalane, one of the town negotiators.

He helped the tribe stay on the path to toward a casino in 2005, when tribal member Paula Peters, a casino skeptic, declared herself a candidate for the post of tribal chairwoman.

Detroit businessman Herbert Strather, who at the time was the primary outside investor in the casino deal, worried in a letter to the tribe that his team would be unable to work with Peters.

McDermott found a way to scuttle her bid.

Using his knowledge of the tribal constitution that he had written, he made the case that Peters could not prove she attended prior tribal council meetings. On the technicality, her name was removed from the ballot five days before the election.

Peter's lawyer said she had been "ambushed." But the casino investors were satisfied.

In 2006, tribal members Amelia and Stephen Bingham sued the tribe in Barnstable Superior Court for access to records of the tribe's deal with the developers. A state court judge ruled he had no authority in the affairs of a sovereign Indian nation. The records remained out of public view.

Even in victory, however, McDermott wrote to the tribe's chairman explaining the tribal council could forbid Bingham, 85, and her son, Stephen, from voting, running for office, attending meetings - even going to the annual powwow, the biggest social event of the year.

When 100 tribe members voted to rescind the shunning order, McDermott said that was not permitted under the constitution, calling such a vote an impermissible challenge to the tribe's "political integrity."

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Tribe In The Media: Update On Possible Third Slot Parlor In The Poconos

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This installment of the Tribe In The Media is an article from today's Times Tribune that offers a consultant's analysis of the effect a third Pocono slot parlor would have on the Mohegan's Pocono Downs and Mount Airy Resort.

Gaming consultant: Fernwood would hurt Mohegan Sun, Mt. Airy
By Robert Swift
Times Tribune
October 24, 2008

A consultant anticipates that Fernwood Hotel and Resort will draw some business away from the two operating casinos in Northeast Pennsylvania if a resort casino is licensed there.

Stephen Szapor, managing partner of Innovation Managment Services, Littleton, Colo., told state gambling regulators Thursday that 82 percent of an estimated $26 million in annual slots revenues at Fernwood will be generated by new customers, namely hotel guests and owners of time-shares on the property on Route 209 in Bushkill, Monroe County.

Mr. Szapor predicted that Mount Airy Casino Resort in Paradise Twp. and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Twp. will lose some revenue to Fernwood, but he didn’t have a specific breakdown. Mr. Szapor testified on behalf of Fernwood at a gaming board hearing to determine whether the Pocono resort is suitable to hold a state slots license.

He was questioned by gaming board Chairwoman Mary DiGiacomo Colins about the extent to which Fernwood would “cannibalize” slots revenue from nearby casinos.

Mr. Szapor said the reverse of that scenario could also develop, where guests come to Fernwood to play slots and then drive to a nearby casino for a new experience.

Fernwood, owned by Bushkill Group Inc., is one of two remaining applicants for two available resort licenses that allow up to 500 slot machines for a small clientele.

Referring to the crisis in the credit markets, Ms. Colins asked a key lender how solid Fernwood’s financing for the casino project is.

“We believe the project will be a success,” said Steven Reedy, managing director for CIT Investment Banking Services, Morristown, N.J.

The economic downturn already prompted a third resort license applicant, the Resort at Split Rock in Carbon County, to withdraw earlier this month.

With Split Rock out of the picture, Fernwood and the Valley Forge Convention Center, at King of Prussia, Pa., remain as applicants.

The board will make a decision on the suitability of the two applicants and schedule a vote on awarding the licenses before year’s end, said spokesman Richard McGarvey.

Atlantic City Tropicana Casino's Ex-Owner Asks For Return Of Casino

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The former owners of the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City filed papers yesterday asking New Jersey regulators to give them back the casino, which was stripped of them after the New Jersey Casino Control Commission voted not to renew their license. Since then, a trustee has been appointed to find a buyer.

Tropicana Entertainment, LLC says it has restructured its board of directors, removed the chief executive officer and overhauled the management team.

Tropicana Entertainment, once part of Columbia Sussex Corporation, filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in May. Tropicana Entertainment's petition claims it is better able increase profits and secure a higher sales price for the property. The leading bidder is Baltimore-based Cordish Company, offering $700 million for the 14-acre casino and resort.

The Mohegan Tribe at one time publically expressed interest in bidding on the Tropicana property but only on the condition that Atlantic City did not permit new casinos to be built on the 150-acre former Bader municipal airport parcel. Since then the Tribe's interest in the Tropicana casino has waned and, last week, the Tribe said it would be interested in bidding on the former Bader municipal airport property.

NYC Racetrack's Slot Parlor Contract Awarded To Delaware North

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Two weeks after New York Gov. David Paterson recommended Delaware North to develop and operate a slot parlor at New York City's Aqueduct Racetrack, the state Senate finally agreed to the selection.

Delaware North was selected over two other bidders, one of them was a group that included the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and Capital Play. Another group included Hard Rock Entertainment and SL Green.

The latest competitor in the northeast market, the $250 million slot parlor at Aqueduct will be the first slot parlor in New York City. In addition to the 4,500 VLT slot machines, the complex will have multiple restaurants, a 300-room hotel and a 60,000-square foot conference center. The project will be completed in phases over a 5-year period with the slot machines slated to be operational in 15 months.

New York officials said Delaware North was chosen because it offered the most money up front out of the three bidders.

Delaware North is a Buffalo-based company that also operates a slot parlor at New York's Saratoga Springs racetrack.

New York's rejection of the Mohegan Tribe comes about a month after the state of Kansas rejected the Tribe's bid to build and operate one of four commercial casinos approved in that state. Three days after the state of Kansas rejected the Mohegan's proposal, the Tribe announced plans to halt construction of its high-rise hotel on the Reservation.

The Mohegan Tribe claims that it could be involved in developing and managing Indian casinos in the state of Washington and Wisconsin and has spent tens of millions of dollars on those two projects.

One of those Indian casinos is being proposed by the Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin and the other project involves the Cowlitz Tribe's proposed casino in Washington state. The Menominee Tribe asked the federal government yesterday to halt the review of their casino application while the Cowlitz Tribe in Washington state are awaiting word from the Department of Interior on their plans.

Jimmy Buffett To Perform For VIP's At Mohegan In November

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The Day newspaper of New London has reported that Margaritaville owner Jimmy Buffett will perform to an invitation-only crowd at Mohegan Sun on November 8.

According to The Day "Buffett will perform at 5 p.m. for 500 to 600 'Parrot Heads', local VIP guests and 40 lucky radio winners. The concert is not open to the general public."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Connecticut Gaming Policy Board Insight

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The Feather News has added links so members can read the minutes of Connecticut's Gaming Policy Review Board, which is responsible for overseeing all gambling in the state.

Recent meetings of the gaming board have discussed topics such as whether the state should add keno to their own arsenal of lotteries, the issue of why the same physical address keeps showing up on many casino employees' applications, large jackpots paid out by the two Tribal casinos, the reason for fluctuations in the numbers of slot machines at the two Tribal casinos, backlogs of casino employee licensing applications and much more.

In addition to the two Tribal casinos in the state, the Connecticut Gaming Policy Board also oversees the state's bingo, greyhound racing, charitable raffles, and the lottery.

Readers can scan down the right-hand side of the this blog site to find links to their meeting minutes for 2008.

The Tribe In The Media: Menominee Asks Feds To Suspend Off-Rez Casino Review

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This installment of the Tribe In The Media is an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel stating that the Menominee Tribe is requesting the federal government to suspend their review of the Menominee's off-reservation casino application. The Mohegan Tribe would manage the casino if it ever gets approved and built.

Menominee to U.S.: Suspend casino review
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
October 22, 2008

In a letter sent today to U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the Menominee Indian tribe has asked that he temporarily suspend consideration of the tribe's application for a Kenosha casino and entertainment center.

"We are taking this extraordinary step because it has come to our attention that, in what are now the final days of the Bush Administration, Secretary Kempthorne's office is responding to political pressure and is about to issue a hasty, arbitrary and capricious end-of-term disapproval of our long-pending application," Lisa S. Waukau, chairman of the Menominee Tribe, wrote in a letter to George Skibine, assistant secretary for Indian affairs at the Department of the Interior.

Waukau wrote that the tribe wanted its application to be given fair and impartial consideration, "and we are now confident that we cannot receive such consideration from Secretary Kempthorne."

Evan Zeppos, a spokesman for the tribe, said members of the tribe had received indications that the application would be rejected after a series of discussions with Bureau of Indian Affairs officials. The BIA is part of the Department of Interior. Those discussions occurred within the past 10 days.

Kempthorne could not be reached for comment.

Kempthorne has never been a fan of off-reservation casinos. This year, he has killed at least 11 such applications.

The Kenosha casino, now estimated to cost $1 billion, would be built at the site of the Dairyland Greyhound Track, just off I-94 in Kenosha County. Casino-entertainment proponents say the complex would create 3,000 jobs and billions of dollars in new revenue. The Mohegan tribe tribe is the financial muscle and partners in the Menominee's efforts to build the casino complex.

In a separate press release, Zeppos said that, if Kempthorne rejects the Menominee application, "we are nonetheless prepared for other outcomes."

"The tribe has a number of avenues at its disposal to fight an illegal and inappropriate rejection and is strongly committed to pursuing them."

The project was first proposed nearly five years ago. Even if Kempthorne approves the project, the casino must still be approved by Gov. Jim Doyle.

http://www.jsonline.com/watch/?watch=1&date=10/22/2008&id=47888

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Tribe In The Media: Cowlitz Partner Seeks Development

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This installment of the Tribe In The Media is a Seattle Times article on developments in Washington, where the Tribe is seeking to develop and manage a casino with the Cowlitz Tribe.

Seattle developer opens wallet to unseat Snohomish councilman
Mike Siegel
The Seattle Times
October 21, 2008

The Falcon Ridge proposal by David Barnett could turn quiet Lake Roesiger, east of Lake Stevens, into a small city of up to 6,000 homes. Councilman Dave Somers has proposed a county moratorium on such fully contained rural developments.

A Seattle developer who wants to build thousands of homes near Lake Roesiger has launched a campaign to unseat Snohomish County Councilman Dave Somers because of Somers' opposition to development in the county's rural area.

David Barnett hopes to develop as many as 6,000 homes west of Lake Roesiger, a sparsely populated area about 10 miles from Monroe and Snohomish. He has hired a Seattle public-relations firm, Strategies 360, which in the past several weeks has sent four oversized, glossy postcards to residents of Somers' council district. The mailings accuse Somers of being against affordable homes and jobs, and for sprawl and global warming.

Somers has proposed a moratorium on developments like the one Barnett has proposed, which are known as fully contained communities, because the councilman believes county ordinances do not provide enough protection against the potential impacts on the environment and public services. The County Council is scheduled to vote on the yearlong moratorium Wednesday.

Somers and his legislative aide, Eric Parks, said they met with Barnett at an Everett restaurant on Sept. 19. Both Somers and Parks said Barnett told them he was prepared to spend $2.5 million to unseat Somers if he continued his opposition to Barnett's proposed development.

Somers reported the conversation to Snohomish County Prosecutor Janice Ellis, who is looking into whether the remarks constitute intimidating a public servant, a Class B felony.

Barnett did not respond to repeated requests for an interview.

Somers, a fish biologist by training, won election to the County Council in 2005 on a platform of reversing the pro-growth policies of a Republican-led council.

Clark County battle

Barnett, 48, also is at the center of a fight by the Cowlitz Tribe, of which he is a member, to bring a $510 million casino to property he purchased outside of Vancouver, Wash. Barnett is the son of the former Cowlitz tribal chairman, John Barnett, who died earlier this year.

David Barnett has targeted a politician there who opposed his plans, and spent heavily to help defeat him, according to campaign records. He also allegedly threatened a citizen activist who also fought the casino, according to court documents.

Under his father's leadership, the Cowlitz Tribe won federal recognition in 2002 after a 24-year fight. It is one of only two federally recognized tribes in the state without land, and in 2002 David Barnett purchased 150 acres along Interstate 5 to become the tribe's first reservation.

The Cowlitz have applied for trust status on the land, which would allow the property also to be the site of the proposed casino. Barnett formed a partnership with the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut and the Cowlitz Tribe to build and operate the casino for seven years, said Philip Harju, tribal attorney and vice chairman.

"Dave Barnett has worked tirelessly for the economic well-being of the Cowlitz Tribe," Harju said.

But the proposed casino has polarized Clark County residents and touched off heated political battles.

In 2005, Barnett, his former wife and his Seattle business donated $100,000 to a political-action committee (PAC) to help re-elect a Democrat to the Clark County Council, according to state Public Disclosure Commission records. The Republican challenger in the race, Tom Mielke, was an outspoken opponent of the casino.

Mielke said Barnett confronted him at a Vancouver City Council meeting before the election and said he was prepared to spend "five figures" to defeat him.

Mielke, who served in the state Legislature from 1996 to 2004, said the PAC, Progressive Majority, sent out seven mailers in the 15 days before the election. According to state public-disclosure records, Progressive Majority spent $86,562 between Oct. 15 and the election Nov. 8.

Public-disclosure records show that Barnett and his former wife each donated $25,000 to the PAC. Barnett's company donated $50,000 more.

Mielke received 48 percent of the vote and lost.

"You could handle two or three," he said about the negative fliers, "but they kept coming and coming."

Clark County court records also indicate that Barnett threatened the chairwoman of a local citizens group opposing the casino. Kamie Biehl was granted a protection order against Barnett in February 2006. She said Barnett called her at 6 a.m. and said he would expose her as an alcoholic and her 15-year-old son as a drug user if she didn't immediately stop opposing the proposed casino.

Barnett told The Vancouver Columbian newspaper, "I would never do anything of that sort."

But Biehl had taped the conversation. A reporter for The Daily News, in Longview, listened to the tape and confirmed that it was Barnett's voice and phone number. The Daily News' story about the incident ran on Feb. 16, 2006. A Clark County District Court commissioner granted a one-year protection order based on Biehl's allegations.

Connections with county

In Snohomish County, consultants to Barnett worked with county officials beginning in November 2002 as the county considered adoption of new provisions that allow for fully contained communities in the county's rural areas, said Jim Nyberg, who helped develop Snoqualmie Ridge, Northwest Landing in DuPont, Pierce County, and now works with Barnett on the Lake Roesiger project. The rules call for a minimum of 2,000 acres of land and require jobs, shops and open spaces. The ordinance also requires developers to dedicate 30 percent of the residential units to affordable housing.

The communities are intended to concentrate growth and attract new employers so that residents work in the same neighborhoods where they live, reducing commutes and greenhouse gases. But the Puget Sound Regional Council earlier this year recommended that counties avoid creating new fully contained communities "because of their potential to create sprawl and undermine state and regional growth-management goals."

Snohomish County planning officials defend the ordinance and say it requires a developer to make improvements to roads, sewers and utilities whose costs would otherwise be born by taxpayers. And they say that several sites in the county could be suitable for fully contained communities, so the moratorium is not only about Barnett's proposed development at Lake Roesiger, which is in Somers' council district, but other potential developments as well.

Somers said the county's fully contained-communities ordinance doesn't provide strong enough protections for the environment and doesn't require a developer to pay the full costs of public services such as schools, roads and police and fire protection. He argues that a one-year moratorium would allow the council to revise the ordinance or scrap it altogether.

He said the mailers attacking his position against fully contained communities won't affect his vote.

"I won't be bought and I won't be bullied," he said.

Montville School Budget Meeting Tonight

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The Montville School Board will hold a public forum tonight on the proposed 2009-2010 budget at the Dr. Charles E. Murphy Elementary School and Leonard J. Tyl Middle School.

The School Board will hold a total of six public meetings as it develops its 2009-2010 budget. These meetings are designed so residents can give their input on the development of the school budget.

The public forum at the Murphy school will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the forum at the Tyl school will begin at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Tribes In The Media: Indian Publisher Giago On Presidential Race

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an editorial written by the founder of the Indian Country Today newspaper on the U.S. Presidential race.

Tim Giago: No longer undecided about the election
Monday, October 20, 2008

It took a lot of pushing, name calling and personal attacks to finally force me from Barack Obama’s bandwagon. That’s right. I will not be casting my vote for Obama and if you believe today’s polls, my vote doesn’t matter.

But it matters to me, win or lose.

A few weeks back I wrote a column that said I was “undecided.” Many of Obama’s supporters took this to mean that I would be voting for John McCain. I did another column asking, “What is it that liberals do not understand about the word “undecided?”

That opened up the floodgates. Some of the kinder words aimed at me were stupid bastard, ignorant S.O.B., not a real Indian, in the back pocket of the Republicans, and then the comments degenerated into words beginning with the letter “F”.

I was taught that liberals are the ones with the open hearts and minds. Wrong! “You’re either for Obama or you’re not worth my spit,” is what I hear from liberals today.

I listened to the supporters of Obama and read his plans for Indian country, but I was not impressed. His platform is a platform of promises. In my more than 30 years in the field of Indian media I have heard hundreds of politicians stand at the podium and say “Here is what I intend to do for you.” After reading the record of McCain I settled on his record. He was able to say, “Here is what I have already done for you.”

Going to do or have done? If some of the tribal leaders out there would take off their blinders they would recall politicians that said “I promise” and have met few that could proudly say, “This I have done.” One spews another long list of promises, the other presents a long list of accomplishments. Accomplishments or more promises: Which is best for Indian country?

McCain fought for and sponsored the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Since it became law NAGPRA has returned the remains of hundreds of Indians to their homelands for proper burial. The law has also protected Indian gravesites from demolition until the remains could be safely removed.

McCain has attempted to stop the federal recognition of Indian tribes by preventing them from going through the back door to gain recognition. He strongly opposes federal lawmakers from bypassing the Bureau of Indian Affairs and granting recognition to Indian tribes without fully exploring and investigating their claims of legitimacy.

Why did so many presidents of Indian colleges jump into the tank for Obama when it was McCain who has been their strongest supporter in Congress? McCain sponsored the legislation to reauthorize tribal colleges and he cast his vote in favor of the Native American Languages Act.

There is only one Native American serving as a federal prosecutor in this nation. She serves the District of Arizona and her name is Diane J. Humetewa, Hopi. She was recommended by McCain. When a nation is in financial turmoil as America is today the people that fall to the bottom of the list of promises are Native Americans. Remember the adage, “Out of sight, out of mind?”

Former Republican Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Northern Cheyenne, threw his support behind McCain and since then has been severely lambasted by the Indian media. McCain also has the support of Republican Representative Tom Cole, Chickasaw, of Oklahoma. Cole has also taken his lumps from Indians he once considered his friends.

For those Indians who believe that Sen. Obama will somehow be more magnanimous to Indians simply because he is a minority, consider this: Many thousands of Indians were relocated from their reservations to cities like Dallas, Cleveland, Oakland and Los Angeles 50 years ago and they were moved into Black communities headed by Black community organizers. When the loaves of bread were handed out whom do you think ended up with the crumbs? Don’t take my word for it. Ask someone who has been on relocation. Ask the Indians in Chicago, Obama’s home territory, about what he didn’t do for them. I did.

In the end it all amounts to what one man has done and what the other has promised. Done deeds or more promises? How many times in the past have I heard tribal leaders complain about broken promises. In the 1970s when Elijah Whirlwind Horse was President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe I served as his Director of Public Relations. He said something that has always stuck with me. He said, “You can’t take promises to the grocery store.”

So at the risk of alienating family members, longtime friends and Democratic politicians, I will cast my vote for the man that “has done,” rather than the one who says, “I promise.”

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, was born, raised and educated on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He was the founder and first president of the Native American Journalists Association and the founder and publisher of Indian Country Today, the Lakota Times, and the Dakota/Lakota Journal. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in the Class of 1991.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Art Gallery Honors Tribal Artist Dancing Shadow (Bill Andrews) In Exhibit

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The grand opening of the Three Rivers Gallery in Norwich, Ct. will feature the artwork of Council of Elders member Bill Andrews, also known to us as Dancing Shadow.

The opening reception is Wednesday, October 22nd from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. Complimentary hors d'euvres and beverages will be served at the event, which is sponsored by the Cultual and Fine Arts Committee.

The Three Rivers Gallery is located at 574 New London Turnpike, Norwich, Ct. Tribal members can call Sandra Jeknavorian at 860-885-2345 for directions.

The exhibit will run from October 22 through December 22. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Tribe In The Media: Pocono Down's Slot Revenue Declines

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is a Pennsylvania newspaper article on last week's declining slot revenues at the Tribe's Pocono Downs racetrack-casino in Pennsylvania. Although the number of slot machines at Pocono Downs has doubled since last year and slot revenues have increased slightly since then because of it, "wagers declined by nearly 7 percent the week of September 29 - October 5 compared to the same week a year ago."

Casino copes with Slots Slowdown
By Ron Bartizek
Times Leader
October 11, 2008

PLAINS TWP. – Gambling industry veterans say that for the first time they’re on the losing side in an economic slowdown that is hurting casino business nationwide.

Gamblers filled the new Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino on its opening day. Economic conditions and an erratic stock market have meant the casino’s 2,500 slot machines haven’t been as busy as expected.

Gambling revenue on the Las Vegas Strip fell by 7 percent in August to the lowest monthly total in more than two years. That followed a 15 percent drop in July. Atlantic City casinos have struggled all year in the face of both strapped customers and new competition in Pennsylvania.

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs has not escaped the slump in business; despite having twice as many slot machines in service, wagers declined by nearly 7 percent the week of Sept. 29-Oct. 5 compared to the same week a year ago.

“It’s discretionary dollars, we’re going to feel it,” acknowledged Downs chief executive Robert “Bobby” Soper.

“What we’re noticing is while our volumes (of people) are still fairly good,” they are risking “substantially less,” which he sees as a direct indicator of slack economic conditions.

The local casino is reflecting a trend that also has hit its parent facility, the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, where a $735 million expansion has been halted for at least a year. Nearby competitor Foxwoods is laying off 700 employees – 6 percent of its workforce – and on Tuesday fired its chief executive.

On Wednesday, Split Rock Lodge, Kidder Township, Carbon County, asked the state Gaming Control Board to remove its application for one of two available licenses that allow vacation resorts to install up to 500 slot machines.

The financial benefit of gaming at Split Rock would have been “very marginal,” the resort said in a press release, and the company needs to be “both prudent and cautious.”

That describes Soper’s approach to the challenges facing Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as patrons watch their investment portfolios shrink and anticipate sharply higher heating bills.

“We’ll focus on the things we can control, such as limiting expenses and maintaining guest service,” he said. “When all is said and done you just weather the storm.”

On the revenue side, the local casino runs the “tightest” slots among Pennsylvania’s seven casinos, retaining about 9 percent of wagers compared to a statewide average of 7.5 percent during the fiscal year that started July 1.

The weakness began in the spring: “I think everybody felt a little pinch earlier this year,” Soper said. An expected spike in business that followed the July 17 opening of a $208 million permanent casino withered by September, when wagering increased by less than 10 percent compared to 2007. The new casino holds nearly 2,500 slot machines; 1,200 were operating last year in the temporary facility.

Financial turmoil that hit the headlines late in September, including a 778-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average on Sept. 29, had a more immediate effect.

“I think that was alarming to a lot of people,” Soper said. There may have been a direct effect on some gamblers’ bank accounts, but “it was also psychological.”

Soper said the slowdown has not affected employment or ongoing projects, such as a new banquet hall that will open later this month in space formerly occupied by the temporary casino’s food court. “We’re moving forward with that,” he said. “We’re going to make other improvements there that will expose our property more and will pay dividends” when the economy turns around.

The new casino includes several restaurants, clubs and retail shops that help cushion the effect of weakness in gambling.

“The more well-rounded a property is the more avenues it has to attract customers,” said Joe Weinert, senior vice president of industry consultant Spectrum Gaming Group.

The Mohegans operate the buffet, a sushi restaurant, two bars and a logo merchandise shop in the Downs casino; they collect rent from the other 10 eating places and three retail stores. Unlike gambling revenues, which are taxed at 55 percent, other income is subject to normal business rates.

Weinert said that Pennsylvania’s young casinos are still in a growth mode, but “we predict that growth is going to slow. The casino industry will follow the larger economic picture.”

A deeper slump could affect homeowners if tax receipts slip; gambling taxes contributed to approximately $170 per household in property tax relief this year. Right now the portion of the gambling tax dedicated to property tax relief is holding up and at $969.5 million is 3.3 percent ahead of projections made in April, said spokeswoman Susan Hooper of the Governor’s Budget Office.

One Downs restaurant has responded to diners’ thinner wallets with a new menu item.

“We’re doing great,” said Jeffrey Metz, president of the Metz Group, which operates a Ruth’s Chris Steak House in the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino.

But, “because economy is tough I created a value menu. It’s all about value right now.”

When it opened, the restaurant advertised a two meals for $89 special. Now, a salad, entr�e and side dish go for $35.95.

Metz said many of his customers are not gamblers but come for a high-end dining experience at the chain with locations mostly in metropolitan areas.

As he adjusts to a new economic reality, Soper is looking on the bright side. “From our standpoint there is a silver lining;” potentially competitive casino projects are sidelined by a lack of capital for expansion.

“The downside is we opened in a poor market condition. The upside is when the market eventually improves we’ll be ready to go.”

New Entertainment At Mohegan Sun

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Some new entertainment shows have recently been added to the Mohegan Sun calendar. For a complete listing, click on the 'CT Casino Entertainment' blog near the upper right-hand corner of this blog site. That site can also be accessed at www.ilovesuncasino.blogspot.com.

Some of the recently added shows are: In the Mohegan Sun Arena, Yes (Nov 9) The Smashing Pumpkins (Nov 16), Neil Diamond (Nov 28), Tim McGraw (Dec 4, 5), Kenny Rogers (Dec 19), Hall and Oates (Dec 31). In the Cabaret, comedian Steven Wright (Nov 28, 29) and Tony Orlando (Dec 13, 14).

At Foxwoods MGM Grand theatre, Duran Duran (Dec 12), Lisa Lisa (Dec 19) and Don Rickles has been added in the Fox Theatre (Nov 15).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mohegan Sun's September Slot Revenue Falls By About 13 Percent

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Updated


Mohegan Sun's slot revenues fell by 13.3 percent in September compared to September of the prior year. Foxwoods reported close to a 16 percent decline in their slot revenues for September.

Last year, Labor Day weekend landed in September but only the Monday of Labor Day weekend fell in September this year. The timing of the holiday weekend accounts partly for the decrease although this year the 650-slot machine total in the Casino of The Wind was open for the entire month of September.

Mohegans Express Interest In Atlantic City Casino Site

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Atlantic City officials began soliciting bids yesterday for a roughly 150-acre former airport property that they want to hold casinos in the future.

City officials will allow casino developers to lease the land or purchase the land where the former Bader municipal airport was located. The airport closed in 2005. Due to current economic conditions, leasing the land may allow more potential developers to bid on the property.

According to the Atlantic City Press, "Although the document does not specify what the city considers "substantial," Councilman Dennis Mason, chairman of the city's Planning and Development Committee, said $155 million is what they expect.

One large casino company, MGM Mirage, said yesterday it was no longer interested in the property. Penn National Gaming, the company that sold the Pocono Downs racetrack to the Mohegans, is likely to bid on the property. Penn National offered $800 million for the Bader property in January.

According to the Atlantic City Press, "Mohegan Sun, one of the two gigantic American Indian-owned casinos in Connecticut, said Tuesday it may be interested in Bader Field as part of its expansion plans in the Northeast. Mitchell Etess, Mohegan's chief executive officer, said the Mohegans would take a look at Atlantic City even though the tribe has been focused on possible casino development in Kansas and a proposal for a slots operation at the Aqueduct racetrack in New York."

The Mohegans were elminated from the running to build a casino in Kansas two weeks ago and New York Governor David Paterson did not recommend the Mohegans to operate a proposed slot parlor at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, N.Y.

The Mohegans previously said they may be interested in buying Atlantic City's Tropicana Hotel and Casino but later withdrew as a potential suitor.

The deadline for casino developers to submit proposals is January 14.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mashantucket Pequot Tribe's Credit Rating Lowered Again

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A major credit rating company, Standard & Poors, lowered the Mashantucket Pequot's credit rating from BB+ to BB-, the same rating as that of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority.

The Mashantucket's lower rating was based on "the tribe's high debt leverage, limited geographic diversity and significant historical and expected distributions to tribal members." Mashantucket Pequot tribal members have been receiving over $100,000 in per capita payments annually for years in addition to upscale housing on their Reservation that many compare to a country club.

"While we expect that current leverage is fairly close to peak, we anticipate very little improvement in this metric in fiscal 2009, as conditions in the Connecticut market will likely remain challenging,” according to the Standard & Poor's statement.

The last month in which slot revenues at Mashantucket Pequot's Foxwoods casino increased over the prior year was in May, the month that they opened their MGM Grand at Foxwoods expansion. While the Mohegan Sun also saw a slot revenue increase in May, it was largely attributable to a larger hold percentage since the amount wagered at Mohegan Sun's slot machines in May actually declined from May of the prior year.

Town Of Montville To Hold Final Hearing On Charter Document

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This Wednesday the Montville Charter Revision Commission will hold a final public hearing on changes that are being proposed to the town's charter, which is the governing document that defines the organization of the town and how it is to operate.

The hearing will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Mohegan firehouse.

Commission members are expected to decide in early November whether to amend their proposal, which currently includes eliminating the mayor's position and creating a town manager.

The Mohegan Tribe's Reservation shares common boundaries with the Town of Montville.

Copies of the charter and recommended changes are available at the Town Hall or can be found on www.townofmontville.org.

Feds Buy Ownership Stake In Banks Including One Of Tribe's Bankers

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The federal government announced today that it will buy ownership stakes in several major banks, including a $25 billion stake in Bank of America, which is one of the Tribe's major bankers.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said, "We regret having to take these actions. Today's actions are not what we ever wanted to do — but today's actions are what we must do to restore confidence to our financial system."

The feds move toward equity (ownership) positions in several major banks is part of the effort to free up credit and will become part of the $700 billion rescue plan announced in recent weeks to help the banking industry. In what President Bush called an unwelcome choice of partial nationalization of the U.S. banking industry, $250 billion of the $700 billion rescue plan will go toward buying ownership stakes in some banks.

It has been reported that several banks have already agreed to a $125 billion of investment infusion by the federal government while the other $125 billion will go to small banks and thrifts. The major banks and the amounts to be invested by the federal goverment are: Bank of America ($25 billion), Citigroup ($25 billion), JP Morgan ($25 billion), Wells Fargo ($25 billion), Goldman Sachs ($10 billion), Morgan Stanley ($10 billion), Bank of New York Mellon ($2-3 billion), and State Street ($2-3 billion).

"By participating in these programs, these institutions, along with thousands of others to come, will have enhanced capacity to perform their vital function of lending to U.S. consumers and businesses and promoting economic growth. They have also committed to continued aggressive actions to prevent unnecessary foreclosures and preserve homeownership." the Federal Reserve said in a press release.

One of the recipients, the Bank of New York Mellon, was named custodian for the U.S. Treasury's $700 billion financial rescue plan. The New York-based bank will provide "custodial, accounting, auction-management and other infrastructure services needed to administer the complex portfolio of troubled assets the department will purchase," according to a U.S. Treasury statement. The Bank of New York Mellon currently has $23 trillion in custody assets.

Yesterday was the stock market's biggest one-day rally since the 1930's. The stock market indexes went up again this morning but retreated this afternoon.

Atlantic City To Seek Developers For 4 New Casinos At Former Airport Property

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Four new casinos could be on the drawing board at Atlantic City's former Bader Field airport property if the city goes ahead with its plan to begin soliciting bids from developers.

The 150-acre airport property was thought to be a prime location for possible casinos as soon as the airport was closed in 2006.

Officials from the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority once said that if casinos were approved at the airport property, they would not be interested in bidding on the purchase of the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, however it is believed that MTGA decided not to bid for the Tropicana for other reasons.

Tribes In The News: Ancient Indian Village Unearthed In Massachusetts

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This installment of the Tribes In The Media is an article on an ancient village found in Middleboro, Massachusetts. Note that a "wetu" is a domed hut that was used by some Northeastern tribes, including Mohegans.

Middleboro officials move to protect 10,000-year-old village site
By Alice C. Elwell
Enterprise News
October 14, 2008

MIDDLEBORO — Town officials have joined with a national group to try and save the site of a 12,000-year-old American Indian village slated for a subdivision.

The site is believed to date to 10,000 BC, and is thought to be a spring camp used by the Wampanoags when they gathered along the river for the spring herring migration.

The Planning Board approved a nine-lot subdivision on the site in 2005, with the stipulation an archeological dig would be performed and artifacts salvaged from the ground.

Developer Elliot R. Schneider of AGS Development promised to donate the artifacts to the Robbins Museum of Archaeology on Jackson Street. But now he says the dig has been completed and “nothing of any consequence” was found.

Some are calling it an important American Indian site that should be preserved for research.

Andy Stout, eastern regional director of the Archaeological Conservancy, based in Washington DC, said his group wants to protect the site and save it from destruction.

“Once it’s disturbed, once it’s gone, it’s gone,” Stout said.

Stout declined to discuss the details of what’s been uncovered, nor the exact location. Town officials are also mum on the details, as the site has not yet been secured and they fear looting.

“Based on preliminary discussions, the site warrants preservation,” Stout said, adding it’s also eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. “A site such as this appears to be a significant Native American habitation area,” Stout said.

When the subdivision was first proposed in 2005, an archeologist from the University of Massachusetts, Christopher Donta, said flint, pottery, bones, stone tools, spear points and arrowheads had been unearthed.

“I found Native American artifacts all over the subdivision,” Donta said in 2005, noting there was a concentration of artifacts “not more than two-feet deep.”

Officials said human remains have been found, as well as evidence of a long house, several wetus (a domed teepees of the Western tribes,) and lots of fish scales.

The unearthed artifacts are being carbon dated by archeologists from the University of Massachusetts to determine their age, said Conservation Commission Agent Patricia Cassidy.

“We would like to preserve the property slated for a subdivision and work with the Archaeological Conservancy out of Washington DC,” Cassidy said.

She said the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe has been told of the find and is interested in working with the town to preserve the village.

Cassidy said the tribe has been to the site.

“The tribe has a great interest in seeing this land purchased and pursed, but right now the tribe doesn’t have the financial ability to participate,” said Amy Lambiaso, senior vice president of the Liberty Square Group, spokesperson for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

The Archaeological Conservancy has appraised the property. Stout will visit Middleboro within the next few weeks in an attempt to put together a partnership of state, federal and private groups to purchase the land.

“We’ll leave no stone unturned,” Stout said.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Photos: Autumn Colors Of Uncasville





The Tribe In The Media: The Latest On Mohegan's Bid For Slots At NY's Aqueduct Racetrack

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media series is an article in The Thoroughbred Times providing more details on the N.Y. Governor's recommendation for Delaware North to be given the contract to operate VLT slot machines at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y. The Mohegan Tribe was a partner in one of three groups bidding to build and operate VLT slot machines at the racetrack, located in Queens, N.Y.

Paterson names Delaware North to run Aqueduct racino

Thoroughbred Times
By Paul Post
October 11, 2008

Governor David Paterson has named an operator to run Aqueduct’s proposed racino, which could revolutionize the state’s Thoroughbred industry by generating tens of millions of dollars annually for the New York Racing Association, horsemen, and breeders.

Paterson, on Friday, selected Delaware North Companies—owner of Finger Lakes in Farmington, New York—and its partner Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. to run a 4,500-machine video lottery terminal facility at Aqueduct.

The choice has the support of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), but the Senate’s Republican leader, whose approval is also required, voiced immediate opposition to the plan.

“Governor Paterson is supporting a bid that only includes plans for a racino and does not include any proposal to generate needed economic development,” said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Center).

Proposals from two competing bidders call for large-scale retail and entertainment complexes and one includes a major hotel, which could create hundreds of additional jobs.

“Before agreeing to any final proposal, we must be assured that the bid meets the basic criteria we established when we authorized this effort,” Skelos said.

So while Paterson’s long-awaited choice is finally known, the deal is not finalized and may not be until after the elections in November. Senate Republicans are trying to maintain a slim majority, while Democrats are trying to unseat them, which would give Democrats control of all three branches of state government. Gaming could be a key issue in several hotly contested downstate Senate races.

Racino construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months, meaning it probably will not be operational until 2010, even if an agreement is reached soon.

“I’ve seen Delaware North in action at Finger Lakes and Saratoga [Race Course], so we‘re very comfortable with them,” NYRA President Charles Hayward said. “We’re going to be highly motivated to work with these guys, to make them a bigger success, because we get 7% of the net win—4% for capital expenses, 3% percent for operating expenses.”

This should translate into more than $40-million annually. NYRA already has retained a consultant to map out future capital projects.

Horsemen and breeders are slated to get 7.5% and 1.5%, respectively, of racino profits at year three and beyond. The lure of higher purses could stimulate major investment in New York’s breeding industry and the expansion or addition of many upstate Thoroughbred farms.

Paterson defended his choice, saying that Delaware North provided the highest up-front payment of $370-million, compared with $250-million by SL Green Realty Trust/Hard Rock Entertainment and $100-million by Capital Play Inc./Mohegan Sun.

Paterson criticized Skelos for holding up final approval.

“Equally troubling is that he has refused to state what proposal he supports and why,” said Risa Heller, a spokesperson for Paterson. “In this time of financial crisis, every day we delay hurts New York.”

The state loses an estimated $1-million per day while awaiting the start of racino operations.

This summer, at a New York gaming summit in Saratoga Springs, New York, Delaware North President William Bissett said he would be content to put viedo lottery terminals alone at Aqueduct and let another firm handle other types of development such as retail and entertainment. That’s in stark contrast to the other proposals.

“We had planned to turn Aqueduct into a premier destination,” Mohegan Sun President and Chief Executive Officer Mitchell Etess said. Mohegan Sun’s plan would produce $6-billion more than its rivals during the life of the 30-year contract, Etess said.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mohegan Sun Issues Press Release On Another Casino Of The Wind Grand Opening

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The following are excerpts from today's Mohegan Sun's press release issued through PRNewswire via Comtex:

Mohegan Sun celebrated the grand opening of their new Casino of the Wind with an unforgettable star-studded lineup of celebrity guests in attendance over the weekend of Friday, October 10th through Sunday, October 12th.

Tracy Morgan, Lindsay Price (Lipstick Jungle), Robert Buckley (Lipstick Jungle), Becki Newton (Ugly Betty) and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Starter Wife), Eric Mabius (Ugly Betty), Maria Menounos, Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin, Cheryl Hines (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Rex Lee (Entourage), Stacy Keibler (Dancing With the Stars), Geoff Stults (October Road), Matthew Settle (Gossip Girl) and Jessica Szohr (Gossip Girl) all gathered in the Casino of the Wind's stunning new Poker Room to play a round of Celebrity Poker to celebrate the launch of the new space. They also got a chance to check out some exciting musical performances.

Additional highlights included actress Lindsay Price who unveiled Tiffany & Co.'s and Mohegan Sun's new high-roller cocktail, the Windfall, in Leffingwells Martini Lounge. The cocktail, valued at over $6,000, includes a Tiffany's diamond and pink sapphire ring garnish. The celebrations continued with an all-star musical performance from Band From TV at Mohegan Sun's Wolf Den, whose members include James Denton (Desperate Housewives); Adrian Pasdar, Greg Grunberg, James Kyson Lee (Heroes); Jesse Spencer (House); Bob Guiney (The Bachelor) and his wife Rebecca Budig (All My Children). Also performing Saturday night was American Idol star, Blake Lewis, who rocked the Lucky's Lounge. The night was topped-off with a VIP red carpet and after-party at the property's exclusive Ultra 88 nightclub.

Casino of the Wind offers 64,000 square feet of new gaming and dining space. The new casino at Mohegan Sun features over 650 new slot machines, 28 new table games, and a stunning room dedicated entirely to Poker, providing 42 tables for Poker fans.

Atlantic City Casinos Report Largest Monthly Decline In History

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Atlantic City's 11 casinos reported a 15.1 percent decline in September gaming revenues compared to the same month in 2007, according to figures released yesterday by New Jersey regulators.

September's decline is the largest one-month decrease in Atlantic City's history. Slot machine revenue fell 18.6 percent (to $244.7 million) while table revenue decreased 6.2 percent to $111.2 million. Every casino in Atlantic City reported a decline in its gaming revenues in September.

For the nine months through September, gaming revenues in Atlantic City were down 6.3 percent from the year before. This year is shaping up to be the second consecutive year that Atlantic City has posted lower year-over-year revenue declines.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tribe In The Media: NY Governor Likely To Reject Tribe's Bid To Run Slot Parlor At Aqueduct Racetrack

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in The Saratogian saying it is likely that New York will not select the Mohegan Tribe to run a proposed VLT slot parlor at Aqueduct Racetrack.

Paterson said to pick Aqueduct operator
By Paul Post
The Saratogian
October 10, 2008

Governor David Paterson has reportedly chosen Delaware North Companies and its partner - Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., which owns Saratoga Gaming & Raceway - to run Aqueduct's proposed racino.

Paterson's office would not confirm the choice, but a spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "We accept the governor's selection."

Delaware North/Saratoga Harness is one of three entities that bid for the contract to run a 4,500-machine video lottery terminal facility at Aqueduct. Construction is expected to take 15 to 18 months, meaning it would likely start up in early or mid-2010 - generating an estimated $450 million per year that would boost purses at each of the state's three main thoroughbred tracks including Saratoga Race Course.

"We are waiting like everyone else," Delaware North spokesperson Wendy Watkins said, with regard to a formal announcement by Paterson.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Center, and the competing bidders were quick to denounce the governor's choice.

"It appears that Governor Paterson is supporting a bid that only includes plans for a racino and does not include any proposal to generate needed economic development," Skelos said. "It appears that in an effort to close the budget deficit, Governor Paterson has made a choice that may not be in the best long-term interests of the state or for the communities that surround Aqueduct. It is our belief that unless we made Aqueduct a true destination venue, this project will not generate the largest possible benefit."

However, Skelos hasn't indicated which firm he favors, spokesman Mark Hansen said.

Delaware North/Saratoga Harness offered the state largest up-front payment -- $370 million - versus by $250 million by SL Green/Hard Rock Entertainment and $100 million from Capital Play/Mohegan Sun. Both of the latter proposals, however, included plans for large-scale entertainment-retail complexes.

Mohegan Sun's proposal also includes a hotel. President and CEO Mitchell Etess said his firm would generate $6 billion more than other entities over the life of the 30-year contract.

"This would be a very bad mistake," he said. "Our long-term revenue far exceeds any of the competitors. If the state is willing to accept far less money in the long run, there's nothing we can do about it. It's very short-sighted.

"We had planned to turn Aqueduct into a premier destination."

Paterson's choice requires approval of both Silver and Skelos.

"The governor can't give this contract out," said Robert Bellafiore, a spokesman for SL Green.

Aqueduct is bordered by John F. Kennedy International Airport -- one of the world's busiest airports - a New York subway line, residential neighborhoods and Rockaway Boulevard, a heavily-traveled commercial strip. The best proposal would make provisions for job creation in that area, which Delaware North hasn't, Hansen said.

But he didn't specify the type of development Skelos envisions.

New York Racing Association would get 7 percent of the gaming center's net winnings - 4 percent for capital projects and 3 percent for operations - an estimated $45 million per year.

"We're just kind of watching and waiting," spokesman John Lee said, referring to a formal announcement.

Mashantucket Pequots and Union To Negotiate Under Tribal Law

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The United Auto Workers finally agreed to negotiate with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe under the Tribe's labor law and not under federal labor law.

Last week the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the Tribe wasn't negotiating in good faith and, days later, the Tribe filed an appeal to that ruling in federal court.

Keith Harper, an attorney representing the Tribe said, "The fact that they are a sovereign nation is part of it. The tribe wants to emphasize that this is not an issue of whether or not they have a right to form a union. Tribal laws already ensure that for workers within the community, and there is a clear way of going about that that is already enforced by tribal institutions."

The Tribe's general counsel, Jackson King, noted, "There is well-settled federal policy to promote tribal institution building. Yet when this Tribe takes the initiative at great costs to build those institutions over decades, you get federal bureaucrats that want to undermine those very institutions by imposing ill-fitting one-size-fits-all Washington solutions."

Casino dealers voted last November to join the United Auto Workers and since then the UAW has demanded that the Tribe negotiate with them under federal law.

Under the agreement announced today, both sides will enter into discussions for 30 days while neither side agrees to waive their legal rights as they understand them.

Voter Registration Deadline Nears For Connecticut Residents

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Tribal members wishing to vote in the Presidential election and local Connecticut municipal elections on Tuesday, November 4th, still have time to register to vote if you have not yet registered.

The State of Connecticut allows residents of towns in Connecticut to register to vote as late as 7 days before an election, if you register in person. If you mail in your application, it must be postmarked 14 days before the election.

"Your application must be postmarked or received by a voter registration agency by the 14th day before an election or you may register in person with your Registrar of Voters by the 7th day before an election."

Residents of Montville, Connecticut can go to Room 205 (second floor) in the Montville Town Hall. The Voter Registrar office is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Their phone number is 860-848-9606.

In addition to a valid I.D., such as a driver's license, you need to bring something that shows your name and address such as a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document.

The Mohegan Tribal Council approved a resolution in a recent meeting that lays out guidelines on which tribal government employees can leave work to vote on November 4th. Employees should see their supervisor regarding the new policy.

The voter registration form and instructions can be found at:
http://www.ct.gov/sots/LIB/sots/ElectionServices/ElectForms/electforms/ed671.pdf

Stock Market Continues Plunge At Opening Bell

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Within minutes of the opening bell today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 500 points before climbing back above the 8,000 point mark. Ten minutes into trading, the DJIA recovered somewhat but was still down about 300 points.

Going into today's trading, the DIA was down about 21 percent from the last 10 days of trading.

Stock markets around the world fell drastically in overnight trading. Japan's Nikkei stock index fell close to 11 percent overnight while the stock exchanges of Russia, Austria and Indonesia halted trading due to large stock sell-offs.

If there's a silver lining for tribal members, its that gasoline prices should be dropping. Oil fell below $80 per barrell this morning, reflecting investors' concerns that demand for oil will decline in a global recession. Oil is down 46 percent from its July 11 record of $147.27 per barrel and down 1.7 percent from its price a year ago.

Gas fell below $3.00 per gallon at a Gales Ferry gas station today (see bottom left of this blog page for the "gas-finder" widget that finds the local gas stations selling the cheapest gas. The Gales Ferry gas station, on Rt. 12, registered $2.99 per gallon today.

Note: The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day down 128 points.

Las Vegas Casinos Report 7.4 Percent Decline In August Revenues

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Casinos on the Las Vegas Strip - the largest gaming market in the U.S. - reported a 7.4 percent decline in August revenues compared to the same month last year. It was the eight straight month of revenue declines.

Casinos throughout the state of Nevada recorded an 8.1 percent decrease from the year earlier even though Labor Day weekend landed in August this year.

"Third-quarter results could prove to be challenging statewide, as September weakness could be greater than August revenue figures," said Dennis Farrell, a debt analyst with Wachovia Capital Markets. "August probably benefited from higher international visitation and a favorable operating calendar."

The second largest gaming market in the U.S., Atlantic City, will report its September gaming data today.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wall Street Falls Hard Again Today

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 678.91 points today, finishing at 8,579 points. Today was the first time since 2003 that the DJIA has fallen below the 9,000 mark.

Atlantic City Postpones Total Smoking Ban At Casinos For A Year

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By a vote of 5-4, the City Council of Atlantic City yesterday delayed the enactment of a total smoking ban at Atlantic City's casinos.

An ordinance that was to take effect October 15, would have mandated that Atlantic City's 11 casinos implement a total ban on smoking but yesterday's vote will delay that measure for a year.

Currently, smoking is limited to 25% of Atlantic City's gaming floors. The total ban on smoking was delayed due to the economic conditions and after much lobbying by casino officials.

A final City Council vote must still take place October 22, technically requiring the casinos to implement the total smoking ban for a week unless a special meeting is held before the October 15 deadline.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Catskills Resort Developer Announces Union Financing Commitment

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Empire Resorts announced yesterday that his has secured one quarter of the financing needed for its plan to build a $1 billion resort casino in the Catskill Mountains of New York, about 70 miles from the Mohegan Tribe's Pennsylvania racetrack-casino.

According to Empire Resorts CEO, "We are honored to be part of a project that is providing union construction jobs and over 2,000 permanent jobs to the residents of Sullivan County. Union Labor Life’s $250 million participation is another step toward completing the construction financing of the $1 billion Concord-Empire Resorts Hotel and Casino. Construction at the site is progressing as planned with the foundation building permits issued and concrete work for the new hotel and convention center already underway."

Empire Resorts operates the Monticello Gaming & Raceway, which currently has 1,800 VLT slot machines, and is involved in the development of other gaming and non-gaming resort projects in the Catskills.

Plans call for the construction of a 750-room hotel, about 300,000 square feet of casino space, ballrooms, meeting rooms, retail, entertainment and the reconstruction of existing golf courses and an indoor water park.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mashantucket Pequot Tribe Ousts CEO

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Patricia Irvin, chief executive officer in charge of business operations and economic development, was let go last week.

Irvin began was hired less than a year ago, having previously worked for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the administration of former President Clinton.

The Tribe announced last week that its casino will lay off 700 employees but many were caught by surprise that Irvin was one of the first to go.

One Of Two Possible Pocono Mountains Slot Parlor Applicants Withdraws

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The Resort at Split Rock in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains withdrew its application today for a "Category 3" 500-slot machine parlor, almost guaranteeing that the Pocono Mountain Bushkill Group will get one of the two slot licenses remaining.

Officials for Split Rock said the economic situation affected their decision to withdraw from the application process.

The two "Category 3" licenses restricts the number of slot machines to 500 at a resort hotel with no fewer than 275 guest rooms. The other remaining slot parlor applicant is the Valley Forge Convention Center in King of Prussia, which is south of the Tribe's Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor.

Hearings on the applications will be held at the Pennsylvania State Museum in Harrisburg on October 22-23.

If the Bushkill Group is awarded a license, three slot parlors will be in the Pocono Mountains, including the Tribe's slot parlor and Mount Airy Resort.

The Board will question applicants about their character, operational and financial suitability, community impact, diversity plans, plans for the prevention of compulsive gaming and other issues.

The Board conducted eligibility hearings for these applicants in October 2007 and public input hearings last May.

Pennsylvania's gaming act restricts who can enter the gaming area of a Category 3 slot parlor. Those allowed to play slots at the Category 3 slot parlors include registered overnight guests or patrons who use one or more amenities at the facility, such as the golf course, tennis court, entertainment facilities or spa.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Atlantic City To Consider Delaying Casino Smoking Ban

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Atlantic City's 11 casinos were to adopt a total smoking ban next week but the City Council will consider on Wednesday whether to delay the ban.

The smoking ban was to go into effect October 15 but it could be delayed due to considerations of the economic situation and suggestions by casino owners and at least one casino union official that the ban be delayed.

The law that was passed in April bans smoking on the gaming floors but allows the casinos to set up enclosed and ventilated smoking lounges. Smoking has been restricted to up to 25 percent of the gaming floor for the last year and a half.

City Councilors have acknowledged that many casino workers suppoort the total smoking ban and expect workers to show up at the City Council meeting this Wednesday.

Detroits Wins WNBA Finals, Sweeping San Antonio In Three Games

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The Detroit Shock won the WNBA finals yesterday, after sweeping San Antonio in three straight games.

Detroit has won the championships for three of the last six years. Detroit is coached by former NBA Detroit Pistons star Bill Laimbeer.

Swearing-In Of Four Council of Elders Members This Morning

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The four newly-elected members of the Council of Elders were sworn in this morning at the Mohegan Congregational Church in Uncasville.

Elders Bill Andrews, Stephanie Fielding, Sharon Maynard and Larry Roberge will be sworn in at the church.

Bill Andrews was re-elected and the other three new Councilors will take the place of John Henry Clark, Joe Gray and Austin Fish, all three whom chose to retire and not seek re-election.

Maine Could Be Closer To Adding Casinos

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Olympia Gaming, the Las Vegas company that pulled out of the Mohegan partnership proposing a Kansas casino, is proposing a $150 million casino in Maine.

Olympia Gaming must wait to see the results of a casino referendum initiative that will be put before voters on November 4. The initiative, if approved by voters, also puts in place a 10-year moratorium on the prospect of competing casinos.

Voters in Maine approved a racetrack-slot parlor referendum in 2003, which resulted in Penn Gaming's 1,500 slot-machine Hollywood Slots in Bangor. Voters rejected various initiatives that would have allowed the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indian tribes to build casinos or slot parlors.

A press release issued by a group promoting the casino initiative states, "Last year, Mainers made 271,000 visits to Connecticut casinos. During the last three years, Mainers spent over $100 million MAINE dollars there and paid Connecticut over $13 million in taxes."

Olympia Gaming bought a controlling interest in Evergreen Mountain Enterprises in Oxford, Maine. Olympia announced in mid-September its intention to build a $150 million casino, which includes a 125-room hotel, if the referenda is approved in November.

Asian Stock Markets Plunge Overnight Over Fear Of Global Financial Crisis

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Updated at 10:45 a.m.


Wall Street began Monday morning in a free-fall, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) declining by over 550 points in its first hour-and-a-half after of trading. The market fell by another 150 points in the amount of time it took to write this paragraph. The decline brought the DJIA below the 10,000 mark for the first time in four years, since October 2004.

Stock markets in Asia plunged overnight on fears that a global financial crisis is quickly developing.

Coming on the heels of a $700 billion bank bailout approved on Friday in the U.S., Germany announced a $70 billion bailout of the country's second largest commercial property lender. British officials also announced its government's intention to take big steps to face off the credit crisis.

The $700 billion U.S. rescue-bailout plan includes an increase in government bank deposit insurance from $100,000 to $250,000. Sweden announced it will double its government guarantee of depositor's accounts from about $35,000 to $70,000.

Leaders from Britain, France, Germany, and Italy met over the weekend but failed to agree on an overall plan to deal with the crisis.

Tokyo's stock market (Nikkei 225 index) 4.25 percent to its lowest level in over 4 years and Hong Kong's stock market (Hang Seng index) fell 4.3 percent. Stock markets in China, South Korea, India, Australia, Thailand and Singapore also fell sharply.

Russia's RTS stock index fell by more than 7 percent after trading opened and later halted trading. Brazil also halted trading.