Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New York Authorizes Expansion Into Electronic Table Games

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Although New York lawmakers didn't take action on a bill that would legalize electronic table games before they adjourned for the summer, New York lottery officials are moving ahead to allow racetracks in that state to offer the games.

The eight racetrack-slot parlors will be approved to offer the new games over the next year but the number of machines has not yet been determined. The move will result in additional revenues for the state, as much as $250 million according to one study.

Lottery officials said the expansion of games is necessary to remain competitive with the surrounding states that offer more than just slot machines, such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New Jersey.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mashpee Wampanoag Powwow Begins Friday

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The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will hold its powwow this weekend, beginning Friday and ending on Sunday. The powwow's theme is honoring tribal medicine.

Gates open at 10 a.m. and grand entry on Friday will be at noon. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children and elders. Three-day passes are also available for $20 (adults) and $15 (children and elders). The Tribe has advertised that over $30,000 in prizes will be awarded.

The address is 483 Great Neck Road South, Mashpee, Massachusetts.

Mohegan Sun Vice President Dies In Auto Accident

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Rocco Santoro, Mohegan Sun's vice president of table games, died in an auto accident in Florida yesterday. Santoro, hired by the Mohegan Sun in 2005, previously worked for Foxwoods and the Borgata casino in Atlantic City.

Our condolences go out to his family.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Rhode Island Slot Parlor On Track For Permission To Extend Hours To 24 Hours A Day

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Legislation that would allow the Rhode Island Twin River racetrack-slot parlor to operate 24 hours a day was approved by the state's House of Representatives on Friday and is likely to get approval soon by the state Senate.

Twin River filed for bankruptcy protection last week. The company is requesting permission to remain open 24 hours a day as part of its reorganization plan. The House of Representatives voted 61-9 for the 24 hour schedule. Currently, Twin River is open 24 hours a day only on weekends and holidays.

The House of Representatives also approved extending the number of greyhound racing days at Twin River, from 125 days per year to 200 days annually. Twin River had asked to eliminate entirely the racing but lawmakers took a different direction.

Twin River, as part of its reorganization, is also seeking a bankruptcy court to cut its approximately $600 million worth of debt in half.

Twin River pays about 60 percent of the slot revenue generated by its 4,700 slot machines to the state of Rhode Island.

Connecticut Sun Beats Atlanta 82-68

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The Tribe's WNBA basketball team, the Connecticut Sun, beat Atlanta by a score of 82-68 yesterday.

Asjha Jones scored 24 points and had 12 rebounds. Lindsay Whalen scored 14 points.

Yesterday's win puts the Sun's season record at 4-3. A total of 6,264 fans attended the game in the 10,000-person capacity Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Connecticut Sun's next game will be Thursday at Indiana. Indiana is leading the Eastern Conference with a record of 6-2 while the Sun shares the same 4-3 record as that of third place Washington in the Eastern Conference.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Photos: Cochegan Rock Property

The Cochegan Rock property includes the largest free-standing boulder in New England. Legend has it that tribal council meetings took place atop the boulder. The property is 93.6 acres and was purchased by the Mohegan Tribe in July 2007.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Political Contributions Aim Of Pennsylvania Bill

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an AP article on Pennsylvania legislators' attempt to halt contributions made by gaming companies to state politicians. The aim of the bill is to fix a recent state Supreme Court ruling that, in effect, allows these types of contributions.

New bill would stem gambling cash to Pa. campaigns
By Marc Levy
The Associated Press
June 23, 2009

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Legislation geared to thicken the walls between Pennsylvania's gambling industry and public officials sailed through a Senate committee Tuesday, just as legislators are taking a serious look at legalizing table games at casinos.

The bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee after countless press conferences and legislative hearings on perceived shortcomings in the state's casino regulation.

It is the first major gambling reform legislation to pass a Senate committee since 2006, when state regulators approved 11 slot-machine casino licenses in Pennsylvania.

"I think it's a strong message, and I believe we're on the path to restoring public trust" in the state's casino regulation, said Sen. Jane Orie, R-Allegheny, a leading critic of the state's chief gambling regulator, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

A top priority in the bill is reinstating a ban on cash contributions to political causes by gambling industry executives and investors.

In April, the state Supreme Court struck down a five-year-old ban, saying a complete prohibition on contributions went farther in practice than called for by the 2004 law.

On Tuesday, a government watchdog group, Common Cause Pennsylvania, said it counted $4.4 million in political campaign contributions in Pennsylvania from people and groups in the gambling industry beginning in 2001.

"This study helps explain the gaming industry's winning streak in Pennsylvania," said Barry Kauffman, the group's executive director. "And it suggests that gaming interests will go on a giving binge now that they have the chance."

The 51-page bill also would toughen the gaming board's "revolving door" policy, requiring top and midlevel employees to wait two years, instead of just one, before working in the industry. The policy also would cover lawyers , an aspect that may get scrutiny by the state Supreme Court, which reserves the regulation of lawyers for itself.

The bill has the support of Senate leaders and could pass the chamber as early as this month, but its prospects are uncertain in the House.

Currently, a bill to legalize table games is pending in the House, and another is expected to be introduced in the Senate within days, with some legislators talking about taxing the revenue as a way to help the state fill its deep deficit.

Pennsylvania has eight slot-machine casinos currently operating and another , Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh , expected to open within weeks.

Casino owners have lobbied for the legalization of table games, saying it will create valuable jobs and make the establishments more competitive with the expanding gambling industries in states along Pennsylvania's borders.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Twin River Slot Parlor Files For Bankruptcy

By Ken Davison
Feather News

The owners of Twin River, the largest slot parlor in Rhode Island that is run by the Mohegan Tribe's former casino management partners, filed for bankruptcy protection today.

UTGR Inc. filed for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code that will allow the company to restructure more than a half-billion dollars of debt. The slot parlor will remain open during the bankruptcy process although they suspended greyhound racing at the track since May.

The company proposed a reorganization plan requesting the state to allow the facility to remain open 24 hours a day. Rhode Island receives about 60 percent of slot revenues. That percentage of the state's take is roughly equivalent to the percentage that the Mohegan's Pocono Downs slot parlor pays the state of Pennsylvania.

Twin River, despite it being the fifth largest slot machine location with 4,750 slot machines, has been in financial troubles since last year.

The principles of Twin River are also the partners in Trading Cove Associates, which is the company that formerly managed the Mohegan Sun casino. With less than four years remaining on their seven-year Mohegan Sun casino management contract, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority struck a deal to end that contract by agreeing to pay Trading Cove five percent of Mohegan Sun's revenues for fifteen years. That agreeemnt is expected to yield about a billion dollars for the former management company.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority paid Trading Cove Associates $76.1 million for the 12 months of fiscal year 2008 alone based on its 5 percent take of Mohegan Sun revenues for that year.

Not only have these payments to Trading Cove Associates affected the Mohegan Sun's liquidity but the Twin River slot parlor opened by the former Mohegan Sun partners have had an effect Mohegan Sun's slot machine revenues.

Ceremony To Be Held Today For Mashantucket Road Project

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A dedication ceremony will be held today at 10 a.m. to celebrate the opening of the $67 million Route 2 bypass built by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. The project includes 4.3 miles of new road, various bridges and an elevated highway.

NY May Add More Slots At Long Island Off Track Betting Site

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In New York politics, the amount of time between an idea to concrete action can take years so Governor David Paterson's idea for installing slot machines in a Nassau, Long Island, off-track betting location may not happen in the near future, if ever.

Gov. Paterson has not yet publicly proposed the plan for slots at a Nassau County off-track betting site but if it comes to fruition, that would be the first off-track betting location with slot machines. Sources have said that his plan is to install slots there and have the Nassau site share its slot revenue with Suffolk Off-Track Betting.

Proposals from bidders are still pending review for a VLT slot at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens and its still up in the air whether another Queens racetrack (Belmont) will also be able to install VLT slot machines someday. The seven groups that bid on running a 4,500-VLT slot machine parlor at Aqueduct are Seminole Tribe Hard Rock/SL Green Realty Corporation, Mohegan Sun, Penn National Gaming, Delaware North Companies, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, Peebles Development, LLC and Development Associates, a subsidiary of Wynn Resorts Limited.

The Mohegan's proposal, submitted on May 8 to New York officials, is to run the facility and not to build or own the slot parlor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Indian Art Exhibit Opening At New London Art Gallery

TseTse Gallery Board Chairman Mark Robets discussing his gift to reporters.

Gallery Chairman Mark Roberts and Mohegan Bill Donehey.

Stephanie Fielding and Bill Donehey

Mohegan Bill Donehey reads selections of his poetry

Mohegan Steppinwolf a.k.a. R.J. Russell

New London Art Gallery Indian Art Exhibit Opening

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The TseTse Art Gallery's opening for their Connecticut Indian art exhibit was on Friday.

Wombayomuks told us, "There was a steady stream of people throughout the evening at the Tsetse Gallery's opening of The exhibit Celebrating Connecticut's Native American People. William Donehey (Mohegan) read several poems from his collection. The Chairman of the Corporate board, Mark Roberts was presented a Native American talking stick to use at the many meetings he attends. The gallery was full of many Native American pieces of art, photography, carved gourds and many ceremonial creations."

Mohegans R.J. Russell, Bill Donehey, Lori Labrecque and Charlene Harris displayed some of their work.

The exhibit runs through July 11, 2009. The final night will feature a closing ceremony aligned with native american tradition. More information on the closing ceremony will be posted on the Feather News. The gallery is open Wednesday through Friday Noon till 6 p.m. and Saturday from noon till 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays by appointment.

The TseTse Galllery is located at 190 State Street in New London. For more information about this exhibition call 860.447.2447 or e-mail the gallery at tsetse@tsetsegallery.org.

Connecticut Sun Beast San Antonio 71-58

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The Tribe's WNBA basketball team beat San Antonio yesterday by a score of 71-58. The game was played at the Mohegan Sun Arena and 6,928 people attended the game. The Sun are now 3-3 for the season.

The Sun's next game is Saturday against Atlanta. The game begins at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Connecticut Sun Basketball Team Beats Chicago 91-61

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The Connecticut Sun beat Chicago yesterday by a score of 91-61 at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Attendance was reported at 5,892 out of the nearly 10,000 seats available at the arena.

The Sun's record is now 2-3 for the season.

The Sun's next game is tomorrow (Sunday) at 3 p.m. against San Antonio and will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fireworks At Mohegan Sun To Begin Wednesday, July 1st

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The Wednesday fireworks at Mohegan Sun casino will begin on Wednesday, July 1 and be held on each Wednesday (in case of rain, the Thursday) through the summer until September 2.

According a Mohegan Sun news release, the "Wild Wednesdays" on the garage rooftop will also include:

5:00 pm - Farmer's Market Opens
5:00 pm - Classic Car Show Begins
6:00 pm - Fire Department Cook-Off
7:30 pm - Sizzling Summer Showdown - Battle of the Bands Competition hosted by a different Clear Channel radio station each week.
9:00 pm - Fireworks Extravaganza Display
Plus enjoy $1.00 food specials to benefit the American Red Cross, complimentary popcorn and water, Tribal dancers and much much more!

Opening Reception To Be Held Tomorrow For Indian Art Exhibition in New London

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The opening reception for an exhibition on Connecticut Indian artists will begin tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at the TseTse Art Gallery in New London.

Tomorrow's reception will include a special presentation by photographer Robert Meyer, who will be sharing a short talk on his dance/music project that will be combining Native American dance with ballet. A Native American poetry reading is also planned, according to the gallery's literature.

The exhibit is free and will last from June 19th through July 11. The TseTse Galllery is located at 190 State Street in New London. For more information about this exhibition call 860.447.2447 or e-mail the gallery at tsetse@tsetsegallery.org.

Photos: Vietnam Memorial Passes Through Montville To Norwich

Traveling Vietnam Memorial Passes Through Town

By Bill Donehey

UNCASVILLE - Yesterday at 6:30 p.m. the traveling Vietnam Memorial departed town hall and headed north on route 32, it's destination just seven miles away at the Howard T. Brown park near the Norwich marina.

The memorial traveled up Route 32 in a procession with military vehicles from every service, vintage cars carrying mayors from New London, Montville and Norwich, another carrying the oldest veteran members of VFW Post 594 and hundreds of motorcycles.

The privately owned traveling tribute features an 80 percent size replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall that stands 8 feet tall and 370 feet long. Along with the wall, the tribute includes memorial exhibits for American wars dating back to the Civil War.

The Tribe In The Media: Table Games On The Table In Pa.

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This installment of The Tribe In The Media is a Philadelphia Inquirer article on the introduction of legislation that could add table games to Pennsylvania's slot parlors.

Table-games bill for Pa. casinos introduced
By Suzette Parmley
Philadelphia Inquirer
June 17, 2009

State Rep. Bill DeWeese officially introduced his proposal yesterday to add table games to Pennsylvania's casinos. Under the measure, casino operators would pay a $10 million fee up-front to inaugurate games such as blackjack, poker and craps at their currently slots-only facilities.

"I feel confident," said DeWeese (D., Greene), who introduced table-games legislation last year that failed to reach a vote. This year, he noted, the sputtering economy and the state's $3.2 billion budget shortfall could work in his favor.

"Discussions I have had with the Senate president and House Appropriations chairman lead me to believe that our table-games proposal has significantly more momentum now than it did just a week or two ago," DeWeese said. "I just think that reality is starting to set in. Republicans are telling the governor they are not voting for broad-based taxes."

One local Republican, Bucks County State Sen. Tommy Tomlinson, confirmed yesterday that he would soon roll out a table-games bill similar to DeWeese's. Tomlinson, whose district includes PhiladelphiaPark Casino & Racetrack, the state's top grossing slots parlor, said he and Sen. Robert J. Mellow (D., Lackawanna) started crafting a proposal a couple weeks ago.

"We have some working groups looking into it," Tomlinson said. "It wouldn't totally take care of our financial woes, but it could create jobs and enhance gaming revenues and help existing Pennsylvania casinos compete with Delaware coming on with table games and sports betting. We already compete with Atlantic City, which has table games."

For his part, Gov. Rendell said adding table games would not make a dent in the budget deficit, and he questioned the need to add the games this year.

"I don't think it brings in enough revenue to make a difference," Rendell said yesterday, after announcing a series of broad-based taxes intended to help close the budget gap. "I still think we need to get the new venues up and running . . . although early returns are unbelievable.

"I have not seen that this could be . . . ," he said. "Having said that, if a bill passes, I will take a look at it."

That hasn't deterred DeWeese, who met with Tomlinson last night to discuss the matter.

DeWeese's staff has calculated that table games could generate an additional $200 million to $300 million a year for the state. The eight operating slots parlors have generated more than $1.5 billion in revenue in the past fiscal year.

"If it's a $3 billion deficit and table games bring in $300 million - that's a dent of 10 percent," DeWeese said. "Ed Rendell knows that next year's budget is even more excruciating because of the diminution of money coming from the Obama administration, so we have to plan ahead.

"We have to be very inventive in the next several weeks. . . . We have to start making our way to a table-games bill that would parallel the surrounding states."

But his proposal has its critics. State Rep. Paul Clymer (R., Bucks), a staunch opponent of expanding gaming, said that although another gambling initiative - adding video poker at bars and taverns to generate revenue - has died down in favor of table games, he doubts they have enough votes to pass it.

"This is not a legitimate way to balance the budget," he said. Gaming is a form of regressive taxation that will result in more social costs than benefits, Clymer added.

If his bill passes and is signed by the governor along with the budget, table games could be up and running in six months, DeWeese said.

Greg Fajt, the new head of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, said the board would need at least nine months to set up mechanisms to regulate table games.

The House Gaming Oversight Committee has an informational hearing scheduled for next Wednesday on the impact of table-games revenue.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Tribes In The Media: Wampanoag Tribe Rethinks Deal With Casino Investors

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a Cape Cod Times article on the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe's deal with its proposed casino investors. Those same casino investors are also recieving about $75 million each year from the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority in a 15-year deal that ends on December 31, 2014.

Investors, not tribe to benefit most from casino
By George Brennan and Stephanie Vosk
Cape Cod Times
June 15, 2009

MASHPEE – Casino investors would pocket nearly three times as much as the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe each year if an Indian casino is ever built.

The terms of the tribe’s agreement with casino moguls Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman were revealed for the first time to tribe members yesterday. A feasibility study commissioned by the tribe this spring showed that a Middleboro casino would generate approximately $700 million in gross gaming revenue each year.

Tribe leaders declined to release specific terms of the agreement because of confidentiality clauses in the contract, but said it is similar to a widely criticized agreement the same investors struck with the Mohegan tribe of Connecticut.

“The terms of the agreement need to be in better alignment with the tribe’s financial goals,” Wampanoag Chairman Cedric Cromwell said.

The revelations come at a time when investors asked tribe leaders to reaffirm a 2006 development deal. On Wednesday night, the tribal council voted unanimously against upholding the terms.

Investors told tribe leaders they need some time to consider their options.

“We hope that in good faith that our investors will be able to negotiate that with us, but the fault doesn’t lie with the investors,” Cromwell said. “It lies with the previous chairman Glenn Marshall.”

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mohegan Sun's May Slot Revenue Declines 7.6 Percent

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The Mohegan Sun reported today a decrease of 7.6 percent in its May slot revenue compared to May 2008 while Foxwoods reported a 14.2 percent decline in its May slot revenue.

Mohegan Sun reported $69.9 million in total slot machine revenue while Foxwoods reported $62.3 million. Both casinos pay the state of Connecticut 25 percent of slot machine revenues.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Possible Introduction Of Table Games Could Save Pocono Downs

By Ken Davison
Feather News

Pennsylvania lawmakers may consider adding table games to the slot parlors as a way to generate more revenue for the state.

The addition of table games, such as blackjack and poker, could eventually mean that the Tribe's Pocono Downs could someday become a profitable venture.

The head of Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board, Gregory Fajt, says gives any table games legislation a 50 percent chance of passing while a spokesman for Governor Ed Rendell says that adding table games is premature.

House Majority Whip Bill DeWeese is looking for co-sponsors of a bill that would add table games to the slot parlors. A state senator, Tommy Tomlinson, also plans to introduce legislation for table games in the next few weeks. Such a move could add another $300 million in revenues to the state.

Eight slot parlors have been opened in Pennsylvania since that form of gambling was legalized in 2004. A ninth slot parlor is expected to open in Pittsburgh in August and two more in Philadelphia next year. The onlslaught of slot parlors in Pennsylvania has resulted in double-digit revenue declines in neighboring Atlantic City.

Fajt, who was Gov. Ed Rendell's chief of staff before he became the chairman of the state's gaming board, said, "It’s happening the way we thought it would happen. We are taking money away from border states. People aren’t going to Atlantic City — they’re staying in Pennsylvania."

Largely because of interest expenses on the heavy debt load as a result of money borrowed to open and expand its facility, the Mohegan's Pocono Downs slot parlor has accumulated losses since it was opened in 2006.

Tribe's Basketball Team Loses Today To Atlanta 67-62

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The Connecticut Sun lost to Atlanta today by a score of 67-62, bringing the team's record to 1-3 this season. Atlanta made 47 percent of its shots while the Sun shot 29 percent from the field after missing its first 19 of 22 shots.

Attendance at the game was reported at 6,429, meaning that over 3,000 seats went unused.

The Sun's next game is Tuesday at Chicago and will return home to play Chicago again on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Universal Pictures Selects Director For Mohegan Movie

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The movie is called "Chief Ron" and is being produced by Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment about a conman who claims Mohegan Indian ancestry and is on a quest to build a casino in New York.

The movie is a comedy to be directed by Justin Theroux and is based on the true story of Ron Roberts who tried to get recognition for a group that calls itself the Western Mohegan Tribe of New York. The movie deviates from the facts by portraying the Western Mohegan Tribe as suceeding in the courtroom and being allowed to build the casino in upstate New York. The script was written by Jordan Roberts. It is not known if there is any relation between the writer and Ron Roberts.

Ronald Roberts previously pleaded guilty to filing false documents to the government in the Western Mohegan Tribe's bid for federal recognition, according to statements made by the Department of Interior's Inspector General's Office.

The Western Mohegan Tribe obtained the title from the County of Ulster for the Tamarack Hotel complex in the Catskill Mountains of New York, where the Tribe's offices are located.

City Wont Agree To Cowlitz Casino

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For the fourth time in the last four years City Council members of La Center in Washington state, where the Cowlitz Tribe wants to build a casino, rejected negotiating an agreement with the Tribe. Under U.S. Department of the Interior guidelines, "failure to achieve such agreements should weigh heavily against the approval of the (casino) application." The following article in a Washington newspaper, The Columbian, discusses the details of the latest city council meeting rejecting negotiations.

The Mohegan Tribe is backing the project and has spent close to $25 million already on a proposed Cowlitz casino, which amounts to over $20,000 for each Mohegan adult that is already invested in the project.

La Center council again rejects casino talks
By Jeffrey Mize
June 10, 2009

LA CENTER — Despite pressure from Mayor Jim Irish's staff and city residents, three city council members remained firm Wednesday on not wanting to talk about a casino deal with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

Council members Bob Smith, Linda Tracy and Troy Van Dinter voted not to negotiate with the tribe, with council members Bill Birdwell and Mike Nolan favoring talking with the tribe.

Council members also rejected by an identical 3-2 vote holding an advisory vote on the negotiation issue.

Almost 100 people turned out for Wednesday's meeting on what has been the biggest issue in this small city for most of the decade: the tribe's plans to build a $510 million casino complex two miles west of the city limits.

Testimony, including comments offered by the spouses of three council members, initially ran heavily in favor of brokering a deal with the tribe, although it evened out when people who don't live in La Center or own property here were allowed to speak.

Tracy said council members are elected to make decisions for the community.

"You don't even know half of the story," she said. "You don't know half the facts I know, and I have been working at it since 2003, and I still don't know everything."

Tracy said she can't be sure the casino won't be built.

"If it comes, it's going to suck us all up," she said. "And it's going to grow into a massive, huge enterprise that is not going to give the city of La Center anything."

Van Dinter said the Cowlitz casino is far from "a done deal," in light of frozen credit markets and a February U.S. Supreme Court decision that raises questions about the federal government's ability to take the land into trust, a necessary step for operating a casino.

Even the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, the Cowlitz Tribe's high-powered partner, pointed out in its most recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the Cowlitz casino might never get built, Van Dinter said.

Smith at one point compared the casino project to a cancer, saying the city couldn't negotiate regarding one piece of the project and ignore the rest.

"I said I would negotiate when the time is right," Smith said. "It's still not right."

Birdwell said he agrees the city doesn't need a large casino nearby, but that might not be the city's choice.

"I think we need to protect our citizens somewhat," Birdwell said. "I don't think there is any shame in asking you what you think."

Nolan said all the experts, as well as people who testified, agree that the casino poses a threat to the community.

"All of you agree there are going to be negative impacts to this city if this monstrosity is built," Nolan said. "And without mitigation, what do we have?"

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Photo: Tribal Government Building

Work continues on the Mohegan Tribe's government building despite announcements made months ago that work will be halted.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's Official: Mashantucket's Schemitzun Festival Canceled

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Several weeks back, we were told that this year's Mashantucket Pequot Schemitzun Festival would be canceled and we reported that to our readers. Today, the newspaper called Indian Country Today ran an article that confirms the story along with statements made by tribal officials. Mashantuckets are, however, holding a powwow in their museum on July 8-9.

Schemtizun Canceled
By Gale Courey Toensing
Indian Country Today
June 8, 2009

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. – The economic downturn has hit the biggest summer pow wow on the East Coast.

Schemitzun, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation’s annual Feast of Green Corn and Dance, has been canceled for the 2009 season and beyond.

The tribal nation announced the cancelation last month in letters to tribal members, employees, tribal leaders, vendors and sponsors.

“We extend our sincere gratitude to you for many years of participation and appreciation for the annual Schemitzun powwow and rodeo held here in Southeastern Connecticut. Unfortunately, due to the current recession in the U.S. economy and in conjunction with cost-saving measures already underway throughout the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, the Tribal Council has determined the need to cancel and/or postpone certain activities that are not considered essential in nature,” the letter said.

The Mashantucket Pequot, federally recognized in 1983, hosted the first Schemitzun in 1991. Schemitzun is a harvest celebration and a Mashantucket Pequot tribal tradition.

By 2008, it had grown to a cross-cultural, intertribal event celebrating centuries of tradition and culture of more than 500 American Indian tribes, and attracting tens of thousands of people to southeastern Connecticut. Schemitzun grew so large it even generated an East Coast v. West Coast debate on pow wow Web sites about whether it or the huge Gathering of Nations spring pow wow in Albuquerque, N.M. , was superior.

The four-day festival usually takes place in late August at the end of the northeast region’s pow wow trail. It has been a massive event where more than 100 Native artists, artisans, regalia designers, clothiers and other vendors demonstrated and sold their crafts at the Indian Marketplace. A juried art competition awarded best of show prizes to the top artists in various categories.

At the heart of Schemitzun were the spectacular dance and drum competitions with hundreds of participants from all over the continent competing for big money prizes. The event also featured a traditional northeastern Indian village with exhibits and presentations, and bull riding – a rare sight in Connecticut. Last year’s Schemitzun featured the Michael T. Goodwin Memorial Rodeo “North America’s finest Native bull riders” competing for prizes.

The Schemitzun celebration has been canceled until further notice.

“At this time, the council has decided to cancel the 2009 Schemitzun powwow and rodeo events, and indefinitely postpone future Schemitzun events until such time as the event can be reorganized to better reflect the tribe’s mission combining cultural preservation with cost-efficiency,” the council’s letter states.

The tribal nation does intend to revive the pow wow at some point.

“We thank you for your support and understanding as we continue to make decisions in the best interest of our nation, and we look forward to once again hosting an improved version of this important cultural event in future years to come, once economic factors allow,” the council said.

Lori Potter, the nation’s manager of government and media relations, said the annual Schemitzun is an expensive event for the tribe to undertake.

“It’s been very expensive every year. I don’t have exact numbers, but very expensive. It’s one more event that we have had to host the cultural community from the tribal nations nationwide and it was a gathering held for so many years, but we just had to cut back for budgetary reasons and the economy. We don’t intend to end it forever, just for a few years till we start to see that we can host it again at the level we did before.”

Potter put to rest a rumor that has been circulating, which claimed that an Iraqi man had “purchased” Schemitzun and then decided to cancel it.

“That’s totally false. This is the first time I’ve heard that one! I’m not surprised; I’ve heard some crazy rumors in my day. It doesn’t make any sense at all.”

The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut declined to comment on what, if any, economic impact the canceled celebration would have on the local communities.

Lance Gumbs, a former Shinnecock Indian Nation board of trustees member, said the cancelation of Schemitzun is “a big disappointment” both personally and to his tribe. Gumbs has had a long association with Schemitzun as an arena director and chief judge.

“For us at Shinnecock, it’s a major disappointment because our pow wow is the week after and we always relied on the vendors and dancers who come out east on the pow wow circuit. They usually go to Mohegan, and Schemitzun and then Shinnecock. I had a number of conversations with some vendors and dancers who say it’s not worth coming east for just one or two events, and of course our prize money is nowhere near Schemitzun’s.”

Schemitzum was also an educational opportunity for many western Native people, Gumbs said.

“Schemitzun is just a wonderful, fantastic event to have that many Indian people come to the east and see some of our eastern traditions. I talked to a Lakota man who said he didn’t realize we were still dancing in the east, so it’s an educational experience for people who aren’t aware that we still maintain our culture here. Some of them aren’t aware that we still exist.”

Even the word “powwow” is eastern, Gumbs said. It derives from an Algonquin word, “pauwaus,” he said.

Not all pow wows are feeling the economic pinch, however. According to a Reuters story, the 26th Annual Gathering of Nations pow wow, which took place in Albuquerque in April attracted more than 150,000 people. The event brought between $20 and $30 million of revenue to the city during the current recession.

Additionally, artisans, craftsmen and traders at the Indian Trader’s Market sold more than $2 million in goods and services at the event. The pow wow also generated exposure for up and coming performing artists as nearly 40 musical groups and entertainers performed at the event.

Tribe In The Media: Mohegans Pay Property Tax In Palmer, Massachusetts

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The Palmer Republican, a newspaper in Palmer, Massachusetts, reported the following news over the weekend:

Mohegan firm late on taxes
by Nancy H. Gonter
The Republican
June 6, 2009

PALMER - The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which hopes to build a casino on 152 acres here, paid its quarterly tax bill 28 days late.

The check for more than $16,000 was received on May 29 and was due on May 1, according to town treasurer Melissa L. Zawadzki. The Mohegans were sent a demand notice $172.94 for the 14 percent interest and fees owed because of the late payment and paid it on Thursday.

The payment was made before the notice was received, but on the same day that inquiries were made by The Republican.

Paul I. Brody, vice president of development for the Mohegan Sun, said the late payment was made because in Connecticut there is a 30-day grace period to make the tax payment and Mohegan finance staff did not realize that did not exist in Massachusetts.

The Mohegan Sun casino is located in Uncasville, Conn., and leased the land between Thorndike Street (across from Massachusetts Turnpike Exit 8) and Breckenridge Street starting in October 2008 from Northeast Realty Associates LLC of East Longmeadow.

The plan is to build a $1 billion resort casino, but the state Legislature must first legalize gambling, a move which it is expected to consider in the fall.

Leon H. Dragone of Northeast Realty said the lease, which is for 50 years with optional extensions of 25 and then 24 years, calls for Mohegan Resorts Mass LLC to pay the taxes for the property. He said he was not aware of any late payment.

Zawadzki said the late payment was for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2009. The Mohegans were charged 14 percent interest, plus a $10 fee for each of the four parcels, and a demand notice has been sent out.

Brody said the Mohegans will make timely payments in the future.

"We'll clean this up," Brody said.

"We will update our system so payments will be paid much earlier," Brody said.

The Mohegans paid their Feb. 1 tax bill on time, but their Nov. 1 tax bill was a few weeks late and they paid a interest and fees for being late, Zawadzki said.

Mohegans Vote For Freedom Of Information Law Yesterday

Photos: TSETSE Gallery In New London

Indian Artists Wanted For Local Gallery Exhibit

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The TSETSE art gallery on State Street in New London is inviting people to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled "Cultural Diversity of Native Americans in Connecticut."

Tribal members and other Connecticut Indians are eligible to participate. The exhibit, which runs from June 19 through July 11, is designed to help "build the community's understanding toward Connecticut's Native American people."

The exhibit could offer a wide variety of artistic creations such as paintings, photography, walking sticks, quilts, pottery and baskets.

Music and dance performers are invited to participate during the opening Gala on Friday June 19th at 5:30 p.m. at 190 State Street in New London.

The deadline for artist applications is next Monday, June 13. There is no fee to participate and Tribal members will be able to sell their artwork at the gallery. The exhibit will still be going on during New London's popular Sailfest Festival.

The TSETSE Gallery is a non-profit organization that has been in operation since 1995. The gallery in New London has been open for about a year. The gallery's mission is to use art to "lift the voices of the unheard, provide a pathway to cultural understanding, and promote healing and peace of mind for those in need. Challenged children are at the heart of our programs."

The phone number for the TSETSE Gallery CT, located at 190 State St., New London, is 860-447-2447. Artists can also email the gallery at tsetse@tsetsegallery.org.

WNBA Connecticut Sun Beats New York 66-57

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The Tribe's Connecticut Sun basketball team beat New York yesterday by a score of 66-57 before slightly more than 13,000 fans at Madison Square Garden in N.Y.

Yesterday's game was the second game of the regular season. After yesterday's win, their record is now 1-1. The Sun's next game is Sunday, June 14, against Atlanta at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The game is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

Atlanta shares the same 1-1 season record with the Sun in the Eastern Conference.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Connecticut Sun Basketball Team Loses First Game To Washington 82-70

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The Connecticut Sun basketball team lost its first game of the regular season to Washington today by a score of 82-70. The attendance at the Mohegan Sun Arena was 7,191.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Photo: Norwich Harbor

Saturday's Re-Enactment Of Mohegan Deed Signing Coincides With Norwich's River Fest

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Norwich's monthlong celebrations to acknowledge the 350th anniversary of its founding will begin this Saturday, June 6, at 10 a.m. with a re-enactment of a deed signing ceremony portraying the Mohegans signing over the nine square miles of their land that today includes all or part of seven towns but in 1659 was the founding of Norwich.

The deed-signing ceremony will take place on the grounds of the Royal Mohegan Burial Ground at the corner of Sachem and Washington streets. The event is free.

Also this Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m., the River Fest will kick off at Harold T. Brown Memorial Park and featuring dragon boat races and music. Selected artists and crafters will have displays on Market Street along with classic and vintage cars. Activities have been set up for children, including story times, performances, an obstacle course, hair painting and balloon artistry.

On June 17 the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall will be shown in a parade from Route 32 in Montville to Harold T. Brown Memorial Park, where it will remain for five days.

June 26-28 will be Harbor Day Festivities: Tours of the Mystic Whaler tall ship, Concerts by the “Ancient Mariners” and a laser light show at the Norwich harbor on Saturday night (June 27). Five parties for families and children will take place at the Marina at American Wharf that will include magic shows, music, food and games from 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day for children ages 3 to 14. Tickets again are $3.50 per person and are available at the mayor's office in City Hall.

There will be numerous events in Norwich during the month, some officially sponsored events and other privately sponsored events that will feature history and entertainment.

Connecticut Governor Says State Can Offer Keno

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Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell said today that Keno can be introduced to bars and restaurants in the state as a lottery game, discounting yesterday's suggestion from the state's attorney general that gaming agreements with the Mohegans and Mashantuckets should be amended before Keno is rolled out statewide.

Gov. Rell said, "There should be no question the Keno can be introduced as a lottery game. Nevertheless, I have always intended to make sure we proceed in a way that honors and protects Connecticut's long-standing relationship with the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes."

Gov. Rell proposed Keno last week as a way to fill a projected state budget deficit.

Attorney general Richard Blumenthal said yesterday that it isn't clear whether Keno could be considered a lottery game.

The state budget announced by Gov. Rell last week projects that Keno would generate $20 million for the state in its first year and $60 million every year thereafter. Once Keno is in place, the state could borrow money in the bond market backed by the future state revenues collected on the game.

Although the budget did not include details on the establishments that would be permitted to operate Keno, it is believed that bars, restaurants and bowling alleys would be allowed to run the Keno games.

Both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods offer Keno.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Editorial: Connecticut Sun Tickets For Tribal Members

By Ken Davison
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Since the opening game for the Tribe's WNBA basketball team is on Saturday, I'd like to note some thoughts about the games I attended last season.

Many Tribal members enjoy watching their basketball team play and oftentimes the Mohegan Sun Arena is not full for the home games.

The Tribe should make free tickets available to Tribal members when the games are not sold out. This would not cost the casino anything. In fact, any food or beverages bought by Tribal members at the games would add to revenue.

Of course it doesn't matter whether Tribal members buy food or drinks at the game or not but we only mention it here to give the Tribal Council a perfect reason to give out tickets to Tribal members.

If that doesn't work for the Tribal Council then this should: Some of the home games that I attended were also televised on ESPN and no doubt the TV audience saw empty seats in the arena. If only from a public perception point of view it makes sense to fill the seats.

Why not try to fill the arena by offering free tickets to Tribal members who are ultimately the people who are footing the bill for the team?

What other reasons do we need to provide so that the Tribal Council will see that it makes sense to give out tickets to our membership. Okay, one more reason: election season, cough up the tickets.

Go Sun!!

Tribe's WNBA Basketball Team Cuts Two Players

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The Mohegan Tribe's Connecticut Sun women's basketball team cut two guards today in order to reduce its 13-player roster to the required 11 player limit for Saturday's regular season opening game. The Sun cut guard Ashley Hayes and their 2008 first round pick, guard Ketia Swanier.

The Sun will play the Washington Mystics on Saturday at the Mohegan Sun Arena. The game will start at 4 p.m.

The Tribe In The Media: Scents At Mohegan Sun

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Ever wonder what those scents are when you walk into the Mohegan Sun casino? An article in the Norwich Bulletin tells more.

Mohegan Sun design appeals to nose
By William Sokolic
The Norwich Bulletin
May 30, 2009

Mohegan, Conn. — You walk into the Casino of the Earth. The decor, color and design speak to the land. But so does the aroma. A gentle breeze of cedar floats through the air. The scent is one of more than a dozen distributed throughout Mohegan Sun’s vast property.

One section emits a scent of evergreen. Another, balsam. Still another, lavender. The programmed aromas are as much a part of the interior as the carpets and the walls, said Gary Crowder, senior vice president of resort operations. “We completed the picture with a sense of smell.”

Scents are added to enhance the guest experience by providing a full sensory experience.
When guests walk through the Casino of the Earth, for instance, they will experience scents that relate back to the d├ęcor surrounding them, Crowder said.

The Winter entrance has an evergreen scent that evokes the holidays. A floral aroma welcomes visitors to the Summer entrance. The hotel tower has a fresh linen scent. Other scents waft through the ballrooms and pre-function areas, the mezzanine and the shops.

Mohegan Sun is one of a growing list of casinos and hotel brands resorting to the release of scents to evoke a more pleasurable experience.

Mark Peltier, who co-founded AromsSys, the company that designed the Mohegan Sun package, calls it environmental or architectural aroma.

Matching scents

“We do not claim any therapeutic effect at all. It’s just part of the interior design to help create a more pleasant environment,” said Peltier, whose company is based near Minneapolis. “What we do is create aromas that fit with design and lighting. We’re like interior designers, but we work with things that smell nice rather than fabric.”

Mohegan Sun was one of the first properties to tap into this specialty. Now AromsSys works with some of the country’s leading casino hotels and hotel chains. Clients include the Venetian, Bellagio, MGM Grand and Wynn in Las Vegas, Trump Plaza and Borgata in Atlantic City, as well as Wyndham, Hyatt and J.W. Marriott hotels. Borgata elected to have one aroma — a mix of musk and cedar, with some added spices — at the main entrance.

The chosen scents work with the location, Peltier said. Mohegan Sun’s rural home and its affiliation with the tribe played into the scent selections. Similarly, a woodsy mixture would fit better in a lodge in Vail than a citrus aroma that would be suited for Miami Beach, he said.

“We come up with the ideas and present them to management. They like some, we modified some,” he said.

The company asks customers why they like a particular aroma. Maybe it ties into the carpeting or a view of this or that, he said.

The scents are tied to the air handling and air condition system. The result is subtle, but noticeable with most people.

“You can’t have the quantity so low it’s not noticed or so high it becomes annoying to people,” he said.

AromaSys has done a number of revisions, but the general category has remained the same, Peltier said.

There is ample evidence that certain scents create a certain sensation. The smell of popcorn in a movie theater triggers a craving for the stuff. The smell of coffee evokes a similar reaction at a coffee shop. Supermarkets bake fresh bread on the premises so passers-by smell the aroma and are drawn inside.

One major British bank introduced freshly brewed coffee to its branches to make customers feel at home.

Not gambling lure

The Mohegan Sun scents are intended to create a positive mood, but is not directly linked to spending more money, Peltier said.

“If someone associates good memories from such an aroma, such as playing happily as a kid during that time of year and smelling evergreen for example, then the odor will be pleasant,” said Gregory Sotzing, who specializes in polymer and organic chemistry at the University of Connecticut. “If there are bad memories, then the odor will not be pleasant. And if the person is allergic to the odors, they’ll have an awful time.”

The aromatic infusion was not created to elicit high risk-betting in gamblers, Crowder said. Still, in a 1993 study in Las Vegas, slot machine areas were sprayed with pleasant but distinct aromas and the amount of money gambled was compared with areas left unsprayed. Slot machine use rose by 33 percent, according to the study performed by Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, which appeared in Biological Psychiatry.

“We just try and match the environment,” Crowder said. “We give no consideration to the way they gamble.”

Crowder also said the aromatic design system does not dissipate the smell of smoke at gaming tables. But the high ceilings, the fact that smoke rises, and the ventilation system installed as part of the agreement with the state, table game smoke is not a major issue, he said.

Flash: Ct. Attorney General Says Tribal Compacts Should Be Amended To Allow Statewide Keno

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Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said today that if the state of Connecticut wants to allow bars and restaurants to add the game of Keno in order to raise revenue for the state, then the state should change the gaming compacts with the two federally recognized Indian tribes.

It isn't clear whether Keno could be considered a lottery game, Blumenthal said.

Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell included expanding the game of Keno outside of Indian casinos and into bars and restaurants in the budget proposal she unveiled last week.

The budget shows that Keno would generate $20 million for the state in its first year and $60 million every year thereafter. Once Keno is in place, the state could borrow money in the bond market backed by the future state revenues collected on the game.

Tribes Silent On Governor's Statewide Proposal On Electronic Keno Gambling

By Ken Davison
Feather News

Last week Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell proposed a budget that includes future revenues derived from introducing an electronic gambling game known as Keno into bars and restaurants in the state.

Would the state's gambling compacts (agreements) with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes be violated by such a move? So far, the tribes have been silent on this point.

Members of the state's Gaming Policy Board, which oversees gambling in the state as part of the state's Division of Special Revenues, believe that Keno is currently allowed under existing laws and state attorney general Richard Blumenthal is expected to offer his opinion this week.

Gov. Rell's budget shows that Keno would generate $20 million for the state in its first year and $60 million every year thereafter. Once Keno is in place, the state could borrow money in the bond market backed by the future state revenues collected on the game.

The game is played by choosing a set of numbers between 1 and 80 on a video touch screen and the player can win money depending on how many of the player's numbers match those selected by the computer. Keno originated in China over 3,000 years ago and was brought to the United States in the late 1800's by Chinese immigrants. The game was later integrated into games offered by Nevada casinos in the 1930's. Both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods offer Keno.

"According to a lottery research publication, 2004 Keno sales in Massachusetts totaled about $775 million; $88 million in Rhode Island; and $532 million in New York," the New Haven Register reported in an April article.

Paul Young, executive director of Connecticut's Division of Special Revenues, believes the state can offer Keno without violating the compacts with the Indian tribes because Keno is "a type of lottery game."