Friday, February 27, 2009

Reminder: Nominations For Chief Due Monday

Next Week's Tribal Council Meeting Canceled

Mohegan Voting Rights Trial Date Canceled

Feather News


The Mohegan voting rights trial, scheduled for March 2, 2009, has been canceled pending the outcome of a motion for summary judgment filed last week by the attorney representing the Mohegan Tribe Election Committee.

The case, Kenneth Davison v. The Mohegan Tribe Election Committee, et al, challenges the constitutionality of the election ordinance which requires members to vote for each elective position available.

Davison asserts, among other things, that requiring Tribal members to vote for all seats up for election is a violation of Tribal members' free speech rights and also violates the Constitution's voting clause which states that voters "shall be entitled to cast one vote for each elective position available."

The trial had been scheduled for March 2, 2009 but the attorney for the election committee is requesting the judge to rule on the case based on facts presented to the the Tribal Court last week. Davison has until March 13th to respond and the election committee has an opportunity to respond to Davison's objection by March 27.

Davison filed the Tribal Court complaint on September 15, 2008 and the judge soon after denied the defendant's motion to dismiss the case.

Davison voted for three candidates in the past two election run-offs in which four elective positions were available. Davison is representing himself pro-se, without an attorney. The Tribe has engaged three outside attorneys in their defense.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Tribe In The Media: Pennsylvania Gaming Conference Highlights

Feather News

This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in the Times Leader newspaper of Pennsylvania discussing highlights of a conference held on gaming in that state.

Table games tabled -- for now
Law to allow casinos to run live games would have big impact for Mohegan Sun

By Andrew M. Seder
Times Leader Staff Writer
February 25, 2009

HARRISBURG – Legislation allowing casinos across Pennsylvania to host live table games is likely years away, but its impact on Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Plains Township would be profound.

James Naylor, a slots supervisor at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, demonstrates the electronic three-card poker game. Casino executives say true table games would mean 400-500 new jobs.

Mohegan Sun’s Vice President of Marketing Jim Wise said that if approved, at the proper tax rate, table games would lead to the creation of 400 to 500 new jobs, expansion of the current building to accommodate the needed floor space and perhaps a new hotel.

“It would spark a casino expansion and would put us one very large hurdle closer to the hotel we’ve always planned on,” Wise said.

But panel members attending Tuesday’s session of the annual Pennsylvania Gaming Congress made it clear table games aren’t going to be legalized any time soon.

“Right at this moment, it’s not on our front burner,” said state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Pittsburgh. State Reps. Dante Santoni, D-Temple, and Timothy Solobay, D-Washington, also said the matter, while being discussed, isn’t an immediate piece of legislation.

The question, according to Joel Simkins, a gaming analyst for Macquarie Bank, isn’t if table games are coming, but when.

Simkins and other gaming industry observers said that all signs point toward Pennsylvania joining neighboring states, including West Virginia and New Jersey, by offering live able games such as blackjack, roulette and craps. Pennsylvania already competes with Delaware, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia and soon Maryland in the slots world.

The idea of legalizing table games was first discussed before the ink was dry on Act 71, the 2004 law that legalized slot machines. Gov. Ed Rendell has made it clear that he didn’t see table games being approved until all 14 slot parlors the act allows were up and running. To date, only seven slot parlors are open, with two more on the way this year, including the Sands Bethlehem, which is aiming for a May opening.

It’s likely Rendell’s successor will be the one signing off on any law legalizing table games. That didn’t stop table games from taking center stage Tuesday during multiple panel discussions.

State Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Exton, a member of the House Gaming Oversight Committee, said he’s opposed to further legalization of gaming and feels even stronger about it after the slots legislation and oversight process has made “misstep after misstep.”

He cited the issuance of a slot license to Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples for Mount Airy Casino Resort as one example. DeNaples has been removed from day-to-day operations at Mount Airy after being charged by the Dauphin County district attorney with perjury for allegedly lying to the state gaming board about alleged ties to organized crime figures.

Wise said there is a table game market out there that is avoiding state casinos because slots don’t interest them. He said electronic table games, technically considered slots under Act 71, don’t attract the serious table game players who frequent Atlantic City, Las Vegas and other gambling destinations. But Wise and others said casinos would only offer them if it was cost effective, meaning the current tax levied on slot revenue, between 55 percent and 59 percent, depending on the market size, would need to be greatly reduced for table games. He said a tax rate about half of the slot tax rate would be the feasible maximum.

“Table games have a lower return and more overhead for employers,” said Adam Steinberg, head of the gaming and leisure division of the Morgan Joseph Investment Banking Group.

Wise said additional costs would be needed for surveillance, security, gaming personnel, equipment, all of which comes out of the bottom line.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

CT ATTORNEY GENERAL TELLS CT TRIBES NO MORE RESERVATION LANDS

Feather News


Responding to today's landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal said that no more land will be taken into trust as reservation land for the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Tribes.

Blumenthal called the decision "historic" and will bring to an end the ability of the state's two federally recognized Indian tribes to have land "taken off the tax rolls."

Once the United States takes land into trust for Indian tribes, the land cannot be taxed.

The Mashantucket Pequot Nation, however, said the Supreme Court decision doesn't affect them.

The Mohegan Tribe has not yet reached the 700-acre limit (not including the Fort Shantok property) the Tribe was guaranteed upon its settlement agreement.

Currently, the Tribe's Reservation includes the 158-acre Fort Shantok property and about 350 acres of other property. The Tribe submitted an application last September requesting the federal government to add 49.75 acres to the Reservation.

Included in the 49.75 acre application are: 1) the Tantaquidgeon Museum and adjacent property upon which is the imprint of Harold Tantaquidgeon's longhouse, 2) six parcels that include or are near the former Trading Cove Pizza property, which is largely now a parking lot, and 3) five properties on Broadview Avenue. All but one of the 16 parcels are currently owned by the Tribe.

Including Fort Shantok, the Mohegan Tribe's Reservation is 508 acres. This does not include the 49.75 acres in the application or other land owned by the Tribe but not held in trust, such as the Cochegan Rock property and the Shantok Apartment complex on Sunny Hill Drive in Uncasville.

U.S. Supreme Court Ruling Goes Against Narragansett Tribe

Feather News


The U.S. Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling today on the federal government's authority to take land into trust as reservation land for Indian tribes that were federally recognized after 1934.

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 6-3, reversed an appellant court ruling that upheld the federal government's authority to take into trust a 31-acre parcel of land for the Narragansett Tribe in Charlestown, Rhode Island. The case is Carcieri v. Salazar. Carcieri is the governor of Rhode Island and Salazar is the new secretary for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

"Because the record in this case establishes that the Narragansett Tribe was not under federal jurisdiction when the IRA was enacted, the Secretary does not have the authority to take the parcel at issue into trust," Clarence Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.

In the dissenting opinion, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the Narragansett's land should be taken into trust because " the tribe has existed as a continuous political entity since the early 17th century." Justice Stephen G. Breyer, however, said the Narragansetts have no way of proving they were under federal jurisdiction in 1934.

Indian tribes that were federally recognized before the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act went into effect are not affected by the ruling.

The possibility of the Mohegan Tribe - and other tribes recognized after 1934 - ever adding to its 700-acre reservation limit (not including Fort Shantok) has been called into question by the ruling.

How will the ruling affect the two tribes which struck an agreement with the Mohegans to develop and manage casinos?

The ruling may not affect the Cowlitz Tribe's ability to have land taken into trust for its initial reservation but the ruling would seem to disallow the Menominee Tribe's ability to have off-reservation land added into trust for use as a location for a casino or any other use without a new federal law.

The attorney for Rhode Island's Governor Carcier, Theodore Olson, argued that trust status for the Narragansetts’ land could result in the development of a casino on that land. Olson said the 1934 law was meant to restore protection for tribes affected by an earlier system of land allocation and that the trust status allowed unter that law, which exempts those tribal lands from state and local laws, were needed to remedy the harm done by earlier legislation.

The 1934 law defined Indians as "all persons of Indian descent who are members of any recognized Indian tribe now under federal jurisdiction." Olson argued that the word ‘now’ must be given its ordinary meaning and should not apply to tribes recognized after the 1934 law was enacted.

Olson argued that since the Narragansetts were federally recognized in 1983 that they should not covered by the 1934 law.

The ruling has national implications since many Indian tribes were federally recognized after 1934 and could affect the federal government's ability to take land into trust for those tribes.

Mohegan Sun CEO Answers Questions On The Day Newspaper Website

Feather News


Mohegan Sun chief executive officer Mitchell Etess answered about thirty questions submitted by readers on The Day newspaper's website.

The questions included those on the smoking controversy, entertainment, changes to the casino, marketing and employment.

One reader asked when the cabaret will open again and Etess said there are currently no plans. The casino staff are trying to decide the best use for that space, according to Etess.

Etess also spoke about the renovation of the Earth casino's north entrance and the future closing of Fidelia's restaurant: "Let me give you the facts about our North area renovation. Yes, we have closed the bar at Birches to make room for the Bobby Flay Burger Palace (and the burgers will not be $20:). Part of the Burger Palace is a bar, which is located in roughly the same area as the current Birches bar. All of the bartender staff will be reassigned in the short run and will be given the opportunity to bid back into the Burger Palace Bar.

"After Memorial Day Fidelias will be closing to make way for celebrity chef Bobby Flay's Bar Americain. We will be serving breakfast on the terrace of the Tuscany restaurant and Birches will be our 24-hour dining facility. Its menu will be adjusted accordingly to be our best all around restaurant."

To see the entire question and answer session:
http://www.theday.com/re.aspx?re=ea35f2dc-cfe9-48f3-b8fb-2d48ad3512e3

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Website Targeting Mohegan Sun Employees Created

Feather News


A new website targeting employees of the Mohegan Sun Casino was created earlier this month.

The site is called Keep The Sun Shining. The operators of the site are anonymous, however, the site seems to have a union slant to it.

An article posted earlier this week described that union membership nationwide was rising while earlier articles hinted at a street call out, getting word out to the working masses and spoke of organizing in the near future.

The first article opens by saying, "Most Mohegan Sun employees, about now, are wondering, what's next. How many employees at this point in time are wondering about the status of their job?"

Other articles posted this month concern the compensation of casino executives and Tribal officials and an article on January slot results, among others.

Senator Dodd Calls For Nationalizing Some Banks

Feather News
Updated


Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said that some banks may have to be nationalized for "a short time" which would help these banks, such as Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America, to survive the current economic situation.

The stocks of both Citigroup and the Bank of America fell dramatically today. The Bank of America is one of the Mohegan Tribe's principle bankers.

Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Lewis said in statement that "speculation about nationalization is based on a lack of understanding of our bank’s financial position as well as a lack of appreciation for the adverse ramifications for our customers and economy."

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s refusal to state his plans regarding either bank is making investors nervous. The price of stock in Bank of America has reached a 25-year low and stock in Citigroup reached an 18-year low today.

Lewis tried to assure investors that his bank wouldn't be siezed by the government. Lewis issued a statement that said Bank of America "is profitable with strong levels of capital and liquidity."

The Obama administration doesn't welcome the idea of nationalizing banks. According to a White House spokesman, a "privately held banking system is the correct way to go. That’s been our belief for quite some time, and we continue to believe that."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped below its lowest close since 1997 earlier today after Senator Dodd made remarks about the need for some banks to be taken over by the government.

The amount of troubled loans being held by banks suggests that many of the country's biggest banks may be insolvent. The reason many banks' balance sheets continue to include troubled loans is because the banks are not willing to sell thes "toxic" assets at the prices being offered by hedge funds and other investors.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wall Street's Dow Jones Index Falls To Six Year Low

Feather News


The most closely watched gauge of the financial markets, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), fell to its lowest level in six years.

The DJIA fell by almost 90 points today, closing at 7,466 points and marking the lowest close since October 9, 2002.

Congress passed a $787 billion stimulus bill this week. The bill includes $2.5 billion for Indian Country and $2.2 billion in tax bonding authority for Indian tribes.

The White House has established a web site that is designed to help Americans track projects funded by the stimulus bill. The website can be found at www.recovery.gov.

President Obama said, "The size and scale of this plan demand unprecedented efforts to root out waste, inefficiency and unnecessary spending. Recovery.gov will be the online portal for these efforts, publishing information about how the funding secured by the legislation will be spent in a timely, targeted and transparent manner."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Geronimo's Descendants Sue Yale Society For The Late Chief's Remains

Feather News


Descendants of Geronimo filed a suit in federal court against the secret Skull and Bones society seeking the return of the legendary Apache Chief's remains that the secret society is rumored to have in their possession.

Skull and Bones is a secret society at Yale University in Connecticut that has been linked to powerful figures and presidents. The plaintiffs contend that Skull of Bones members stole the remains of Geronimo in 1918 from Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

In 2005, a Yale historian discovered a 1918 letter sent to Skull and Bones member, and later the Central Intelligence Agency's first human resources director, F. Trubee Davison by Winter Mead that said, "The skull of the worthy Geronimo the Terrible, exhumed from its tomb at Fort Sill by your club and Knight Haffuer, is now safe inside the T - together with is well worn femurs, bit and saddle horn."

Members of Skull and Bones, including former President George W. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, were said to have dug up Geronimo's grave when they were stationed at the Fort Sill during World War I as Army volunteers.

The lawsuit was filed in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, the 100th anniversary of Geronimos death from pneumonia in 1909. Geronimo and 35 warriors surrendered near the Arizona-New Mexico border in 1886 after years of fighting the U.S. and Mexican armies.

Geronimo's descendants want the remains turned over so they can be reinterred near Geronimo's birthplace in southern New Mexico's Gila Wilderness. "I believe strongly from my heart that his spirit was never released," Geronimo's great-grandson Harlyn Geronimo said.

Their lawsuit also names President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Army Secretary Pete Geren as defendants because Geronimo's initial burial spot was on a federal Army base. Yale University was also named as a defendant. Ramsey Clark, who served as attorney general under former President Lyndon Johnson, is representing the plaintiffs.

Former Chairman of the San Carlos Apache Tribe, Ned Anderson, sought to repatriate Geronimo's remains about a decade ago after he received a tip that the Skull and Bones society was in possession of the skull. The informant sent pictures of the bones that were on display along with a copy of a ledger from the secret society that contained notations about the grave robbery. The informant said Geronimo's skull was always placed on a table in front of participants during certain rituals held by the secret society.

Attorney Endicott P. Davison, who represented the Skull & Bones Society, denied in 2000 that the club had Geronimo's skull and claimed the ledger describing the theft was forged.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Photos: Spring-Like Weather To End


Light Snowfall Expected Tomorrow

Feather News


Tomorrow's anticipated snowfall is expected to leave possibly a half-inch of snow on the Mohegan Reservation and an inch or two of snow farther inland. The snow is expected to turn to sleet and rain.

The snowfall will cap a week and a half of Spring-like weather in the region.

Photo: Trump's Taj Majal Casino

Atlantic City's Trump Entertainment Files For Bankruptcy

Feather News


Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., the owner of three Atlantic City casinos, filed for bankruptcy this morning. According to the filing, the casino company anticipated the bondholders would force the company into bankruptcy if the casino company hadn't filed for bankruptcy.

According to the filing, the casino company listed assets of $2.1 billion and debt of $1.7 billion as of December 31, 2008.

Atlantic City's gaming revenues have suffered largely from the economy and the opening of slot parlors in neighboring Pennsylvania. Gaming revenues in Atlantic City fell 7.6 percent last year.

Trump reportedly controlled about 28 percent of Trump Entertainment’s stock and quit the company's board of directors last Friday.

Trump Entertainment's 8.5 percent bond notes due June 2015 traded at 14 cents on the dollar earlier this week, according to Trace, the bond-pricing system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The three Trump casinos went through bankruptcy in the 1990's and once again in the last four years.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mohegan Sun Reports 8.7% Decline In January Slot Revenue

Feather News
Updated 3


Mohegan Sun reported today that its January slot revenue fell by 8.7 percent compared to last January's results.

Foxwoods reported last week that its January slot revenue fell by 7.3 percent.

Mohegan Sun's slot revenue in January was $62.4 million while Foxwoods slot revenue was $52.9 million. Both casinos contribute 25 percent of their slot revenue to the state of Connecticut.

Meanwhile, in the nation's largest gaming market, Las Vegas Strip casino revenue fell by 23 percent in December compared to the same month the year before while Atlantic City casinos recorded a decrease of 9.4 percent in its January gaming revenue compared to the year before.

The figures reported by Las Vegas and Atlantic City casinos are gaming revenues, not just slot machine revenue as is reported by the Indian casinos in Connecticut.

The December revenue reported by the casinos in Las Vegas and Nevada lag by one month from those of Atlantic City.

Las Vegas Strip casinos recorded gaming revenues of about $474 million in December. Although the Vegas casinos expect less passengers in 2009, they will have 13,000 more hotel rooms this year adding to the overhead costs.

And in the nation's second largest gaming market, the 11 casinos in Atlantic City reported about $321 million in gaming revenue for the month of January. According to figures released by New Jersey regulatory authorities, 66 percent of that revenue is from slot machines and the rest from table games. Part of the decrease was attributed to the impact of the seven slot parlors in the neighboring state of Pennsylvania (which recorded January slot revenue of $132 million) as well as New York.

According to tomorrow's Wall Street Journal (funny how we can do that, ey?), "Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc., Donald Trump's casino group, is expected to file Tuesday morning for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, said several people familiar with the matter."

These same sources said the casino operator would either file for bankruptcy or would be forced involuntarily by creditors into bankruptcy. "Such a filing would mark the third appearance in bankruptcy court for Trump Entertainment, which most recently emerged from bankruptcy proceedings in 2005."

Photos: Anticipated Location Of Mashantucket Pequot Slot Parlor In Philadelphia




The Gallery Mall in downtown Philadelphia

The Tribe In The News: Mashantucket Pequot Nation

Feather News

This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about the Mashantucket Pequot Nation's recent history and their current financial situation. The Mashantuckets are partners in a group that plans to open a slot parlor in the city of Philadelphia.

Special Report: Casinos in Crisis
The chips are down for casino-owning tribe
By Jennifer Lin
The Philadelphia Inquirer
February 15, 2009

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. - The Indian tribe that owns the biggest casino in the country on 1,500 wooded acres here - and wants to expand its Foxwoods gaming brand to Philadelphia - is seeing the good life slip away.
Until just a few years ago, each adult in the 871-member Mashantucket Pequot tribe drew a six-figure annual "distribution" from casino profits. Even 18-year-olds were making $100,000.

Families built hilltop homes with panoramic views and price tags topping $400,000. Health care, child care, and college tuition were free.

But the days of over-the-top spending and boundless profits are over. Like the gaming industry nationwide, the tribe is seeing revenues collapse, and its debt has ballooned past $1 billion - all as it has taken on a one-third stake, and the role of operator, in the 3,000-machine Foxwoods slots parlor headed for the Gallery mall in Center City.

The tribe's financial problems in Connecticut, gaming analysts say, could hold up the Philadelphia project by making it harder for the partners to borrow the hundreds of millions they need for a Gallery casino. Among the other investors are Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider and family trusts for real estate magnate Ron Rubin and entrepreneur Lewis Katz.

The tribe's reach into Philadelphia was an attempt by tribal leader Michael J. Thomas to expand the gaming business beyond Connecticut.

When the Mashantucket Pequot tribe opened its first casino in 1992, Foxwoods had the market north of Atlantic City all to itself. It has drawn as many as 40,000 guests a day to a gambling fun house with 7,200 slot machines, poker rooms, and 380 tables for baccarat, blackjack, and roulette.

But the tribe has been facing intense competition from Mohegan Sun, another tribal mega-casino just five miles away that opened in 1997, as well as new casinos in New York, Rhode Island, and, most recently, Pennsylvania.

To one-up their rivals, the Pequots opened the $700 million MGM Grand at Foxwoods last May, adding a 26-story hotel, 1,200 slot machines, and 60 table games.

The timing could not have been worse.

Slots revenue in December dipped to $45 million, down 19 percent from a year earlier. The tribe laid off 700 casino workers, offered buyouts to tribal government employees, and named a new chief executive to run Foxwoods, the fourth in two years.

"Their plan for growth was built on an economy that no longer exists and is not coming back," said Fred Carstensen, an economist with the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut.

Gary Armentrout, president of Foxwoods Development Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of the tribe, said in an interview that the Philadelphia slots parlor was independent of the Connecticut casino business. This development arm, which Armentrout runs from a St. Louis office, is the Gallery partner, he said.

The subsidiary also is renovating a casino on Grand Bahama Island and partnering with the Pauma Band of Mission Indians to develop and manage a $300 million gaming resort near San Diego.

In Philadelphia, Foxwoods Development has put up $30 million as its share of startup costs for land, the casino license, and legal and design work. "We've satisfied our financial obligation," Armentrout said. "Period."

However, the development company depends on cash flow from the tribe, and the tribe's fortunes are dependent on the Connecticut casino, gaming analysts point out. If that venture is hurting, they say, it could affect future loans to all tribal businesses.

The repercussions might not end there.

Originally, the Philadelphia partners were going to spend $670 million to build along the Delaware River in South Philadelphia. But Mayor Nutter and neighbors of the proposed site fought to push the project off the waterfront. Foxwoods now has agreed to renovate existing space in the Gallery, a less costly option.

Before the project can be moved, the partners will have to return to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board for permission. In 2006, Foxwoods was one of only two slots projects approved for Philadelphia; the other was the SugarHouse casino on Delaware Avenue in Fishtown and Northern Liberties.

Douglas Harbach, a spokesman for the gaming board, said that if a petition were submitted to move Foxwoods to the Gallery, it would be "likely and logical for the board to take a deep look at the finances of everyone involved."

The board, he said, could revoke a license if it felt the partners could not fulfill all obligations of their license, including opening on schedule. Under its current license, Foxwoods should have 1,500 slot machines operating by May 2009. It can apply for extensions of up to 24 months from that date, Harbach said.

In less than two decades, gambling catapulted the Mashantucket Pequot from poverty to riches barely imagined.

The stone-and-shingle community center with indoor pool, handball courts, and weight room looks like a resort lodge. The $250 million the tribe spent on its museum of Eastern Indian history dwarfs the $150 million cost of the Barnes Foundation's new Center City home.

But as recently as the early 1970s, the reservation consisted of only 214 forested acres near a swamp, and Elizabeth George was one of only two people living there. Fearing the state would seize the land for a park, the matriarch urged her nine grandchildren to return.

After her death at 78 in 1973, her grandson, Richard "Skip" Hayward, took up her cause. He worked with advocates for American Indians, including the Indian Rights Association in Philadelphia, to reclaim property and rebuild the tribe.

In 1983, the Pequots won federal recognition as a sovereign nation, with their own government, court, and laws. The tribe also received a $900,000 settlement to buy land and invest in economic projects.

Hayward was a quixotic leader, welcoming even those with only a tenuous Pequot pedigree. He hatched all sorts of job-making ventures: raising pigs, growing hydroponic lettuce, running a pizzeria.

In 1986, the tribe opened a bingo hall - a move the state couldn't stop, because it already allowed charities such as churches to raise money through bingo.

That was the start.

With congressional passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the Pequots moved into gaming big-time.

The tribe had land, but not the millions of dollars needed to open a full-scale casino. It found a backer a world away - a Malaysian billionaire casino operator. The late Lim Goh Tong loaned the tribe $235 million to open a mega-casino. In return, his family business would get 10 percent of Foxwoods' net income until 2018, according to a 2002 report in Time magazine.

The tribe is tight-lipped about its finances.

As a sovereign nation, it has its own gaming commission and does not disclose what it makes or spends.

Under a pact with Connecticut, the state gets 25 percent of Foxwoods' take from 7,200 slot machines. For the six months ended Dec. 31, the state received $90 million on slots revenue of $360 million, a drop of 8 percent from the same period a year earlier.

"They really have to manage the business very tightly to get through this difficult economy to a point of achieving stability," said Craig Parmelee, a credit analyst for Standard & Poor's, which in October downgraded the tribe's debt rating.

In December, Foxwoods named a new chief executive - Michael F. Speller from the Seneca Niagara Casino, an American Indian casino in Upstate New York supported by the same Malaysian investors behind Foxwoods.

Sources with knowledge of the tribe say the leaders have asked the Malaysian investors for more help to ride out the current downturn.

Many members declined to talk about the tribe for fear of getting "banished," cut off from benefits and income.

About two-thirds of the members live exclusively on payouts from the casino. Last month's payment was slashed by a third, the latest of many cuts in the last two years.

"When you're making $500,000 or $600,000 a year and now you dip down to $50,000, it's a shock to the system," said Leo Fletcher, who lived on the reservation for eight years and wrote the newly released The Tribe of Foxes: The True Inside Story about the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

At a tribal meeting last month at the reservation's community center, about 100 members heard more grim news. The seven-person tribal council told them to brace for more cuts.

Someone asked about the Philadelphia project.

"The biggest question was how can the tribe afford it," a member recounted.

"We didn't get that answered."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Photo: Mohegan Security Vehicle Out For Repairs



Mohegan security hybrid out of commission due to dashboard lights not functioning. Due to the vehicle's high voltage battery (Brokenwing refers to the vehicles as "electric chair" cars), this type of repair is not so simple and cheap, hence the security vehicle sits in a Ford dealership parking lot unused.

Photo: Mohegan Sun Limousine Fleet




"Park in the Thames Garage and win a car" reads a sign when entering the casino complex. The likely winners seem to be the casino's limousines. Over 30 were seen on a recent weeknight parked in the Thames Garage.

Photo: Revelers Enter Mohegan Casino's Wolf Den

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mohegan Sun To Report January Slot Results On Monday

Feather News


Mohegan Sun is expected to report its January slot revenues on Monday. Yesterday, Foxwoods reported a 7.4 percent decline in its January slot revenues.

In December, Mohegan Sun's decline was 4.3 percent, a mild decrease compared to prior months.

Mohegan Gaming Authority Balance Sheet At December 2008

Feather News


The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's balance sheet at December 31, 2008 was reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission as follows:

ASSETS:
Cash and cash equivalents 95,227,000
Restricted cash 961,000
Receivables 27,967,000
Inventories 18,892,000
Other current assets 29,728,000
Property and equipment, net 1,699,401,000
Goodwill 39,459,000
Other intangible assets, net 389,938,000
Other assets, net 71,249,000
Total assets 2,372,822,000

LIABILITIES and CAPITAL:
Current portion of long-term debt 26,250,000
Current portion of relinquishment liability 88,734,000
Current portion of capital lease 636,000
Trade payables 22,910,000
Construction payables 54,936,000
Accrued interest payable 31,890,000
Other current liabilities 133,409,000
Long-term debt, net of current portion 1,601,679,000
Relinquishment liability, net of current portion 293,442,000
Capital lease, net of current portion 6,515,000
Other long-term liabilities 480,000
Minority interests 2,638,000
Retained earnings 109,303,000
Total liabilities and capital 2,372,822,000

More Mohegan Gaming Authority Financial Statistics

Feather News


The following are additional summary statistics extracted from today's Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority announcement on its financial results for the three-month period of October through December 2008:

- Gaming revenues of $326.7 million, a 6.8% decrease from the first quarter of fiscal 2008

- Gross slot revenues of $244.7 million, a 1.4% decrease from the first quarter of fiscal 2008

- Table games revenues of $79.7 million, a 20.6% decrease from the first quarter of fiscal 2008

- Non-gaming revenues of $68.4 million, a 1.9% decrease from the first quarter of fiscal 2008

- Net revenues of $364.0 million, a 5.9% decrease from the first quarter of fiscal 2008

- Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP measure described below, of $55.4 million, a 27.7% decrease from the first quarter of fiscal 2008

- Income from operations of $28.0 million, a 45.5% decrease from the first quarter of fiscal 2008

- Net loss of $3.8 million, compared to net income of $23.7 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2008

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Photo: January Intertribal Social At Mohegan

Spirit Lake Intertribal Social On Saturday In Groton

Feather News


The following Spirit Lake announcement is for an intertribal social that will be held this Saturday in Groton, Connecticut:

INTER-TRIBAL FUND RAISING SOCIAL

When: February 14th @1:00 pm to 8:00pm
Where: City Of Groton
City Municipal Building
295 Meridian Street
Groton, CT 06340

HOST DRUM “MYSTIC RIVER SINGERS”

Open to the Public.

All Drums and Dancers Welcome

Native Dancing, Hand Drum Music, Native Crafts, Food, Raffles, Cake walks for the Kids, Fun time for the whole Family.

For more information and vendor space availability please call:
860-857-7776 Kenny Merrick or 860-608-5447 Jay Levy

ALL PROCEEDS GO TOWARDS MARCH 21 & 22, 2009 SPIRIT LAKE YOUTH BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT!

Executive Dining Priveleges

Feather News


The Mohegan Tribal government announced it will stop serving lunch to its employees in the government building cafeteria. It was said that this will save an estimated $350,000 annually.

In essence, whatever is said to be saved by the Tribe will still be spent by the Tribe two blocks away as Tribal government employees will be allowed to eat at the casino employee cafeteria.

Coincidentally, an executive dining room is nearing completion in the casino where casino executives and Tribal government executives will be able to eat without having to mingle with the rest of the employees.

The executive dining room can seat an estimated 20-25 people, according to reports.

The executive dining room should be ready by the end of the month, exactly when the meals in the goverment building will cease.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tribal Council Election Candidates

Feather News


A total of 43 Tribal members submitted their names for this summer's Tribal Council election. The primary election for five seats on the Tribal Council is expected to take place in May and the run-off election will be held in August.

The Mohegan Tribe Election Committee will release the names of the candidates after they clear a background investigation.

The run-off election will involve the top ten vote-getters from the primary election.

The five Tribal Councilors whose seats are up for election this year are Bruce Bozsum, Lynn Malerba, Jim Gessner, Bill Quidgeon and Mark Hamilton.

The winners of the August run-off election will be seated in October.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Troubles Continue For Rhode Island Slot Parlor

Feather News


The Twin River racetrack-slot parlor in Lincoln, Rhode Island is in a similar situation to the Mohegan's Pocono Downs racetrack-slot parlor in Pennsylvania.

Both properties have cost their developers nearly $700 million and both properties pay about 60 percent of their slot revenue to the state.

Both properties are losing money. While the Mohegan Sun Casino absorbs the continued losses at Pocono Downs, the owners of Twin River have defaulted on their loans.

The owners of Twin River were the principles for the former casino management company that ran Mohegan Sun and are now are being paid about $75 million annually not to manage Mohegan Sun.

BLB Investors, a partnership that includes Len Wolman and Sol Kerzner, are the owners of Twin River. Wolman and Kerzner are also the principle partners for Trading Cove Associates, who struck the 15-year deal with the Mohegans to receive five percent of Mohegan Sun revenues until December 2014 and are the backers for the proposed Mashpee Wampanoag megacasino in Massachusetts.

The owners of Twin River have two options in the forefront of their thinking: bankruptcy or selling the property to the state.

Rhode Island officials are now studying the option of buying the Twin River property.

According to a Providence Journal article, "Twin River's owners hope to renegotiate their estimated $525 million in debt, or cut a new deal and pay the state less than its current percentage - something state officials have steadfastly refused to do. If they can't do those things, a sale to the state, bankruptcy filing, reorganization, or a post-failure state takeover are all possibilities, said Patti Doyle, a Twin River spokeswoman."

BLB Investors first missed a debt payment last year and is still in talks with its chief lender, Merrill Lynch Capital Corporation.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Photos: Atlantic City's Night Life And Boardwalk


New Express Train From NYC To Atlantic City Introduced By Three Casinos

Feather News


Three Atlantic City casinos - Caesars, Borgata and Harrah's - are betting that a new express train from New York City to Atlantic City will bring more high rollers to their casinos.

The Atlantic City Express Service or ACES did a test run last Friday and will begin its first public trip beginning this weekend.

For a $50 one-way ticket (or $75 first-class), riders will ride on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor line from New York and then onto New Jersey Transit's Atlantic City line, with only one stop in Newark, N.J. The train will run from Fridays through Sundays and take just under three hours per trip.

WNBA All-Star Game To Be Held At Mohegan Sun Arena July 25

Feather News


The 2009 Women's National Basketball Association All-Star game will be held at the Mohegan Sun Arena on July 25th at 3:30 p.m. The game will also be televised on ABC.

According to reports, Connecticut Sun season-ticket holders will be notified this week about an opportunity to buy their current seats for the All-Star game before tickets go on sale to the general public in April.

Mohegan Sun employees were also notified that they will be paid commissions for signing people up for season tickets to Connecticut Sun basketball games. A Mohegan Sun employee newsletter reportedly suggested it as a way for employees to earn extra cash.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Second Major Credit Rating Downgrades Mohegan Gaming Authority's Credit Rating

Feather News


A second major credit rating agency, Moody's Investors Service, downgraded the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's credit rating after the issuance of the gaming authority's first quarter earnings report.

Moody's lowered MTGA's corporate family of bond debt from 'B1' to 'B2.' MTGA's senior subordinated debt rating was reduced from 'B3' to 'Caa1.' All of these categories are considered speculative investments, commonly known as junk bonds.

Last Friday, Standard & Poor's also downgraded MTGA's credit rating.

MTGA reported last Thursday that it lost $3.8 million for the three-month period of October through December. In downgrading MTGA's credit rating, Moody's cited the possibility of further earnings erosion in the coming months.

A lower credit rating increases a company's cost of borrowing money than it would otherwise pay with a stronger credit rating.

Winter Weather Advisory In Effect Today

Feather News

Snow began to fall shortly after 9 a.m. this morning and is expected to end tonight, leaving an accumulation of between 3 to 5 inches. Local schools are closing early today. The Mohegan Tribal government office may close early today although no official announcement has yet been made.

Lobbying Costs Reported on Wisconsin Casino Project

Feather News
Updated


For the calendar year 2008, the three lobbyists retained to work on matters related to the proposed Menominee Indian casino in Kenosha, Wisconsin were paid an average of $14,000 per hour for five hours of work, totaling $70,001.

Included in that amount was $40,001 of lobbying fees that was paid for the period of July through December in which no actual lobbying work was reported on the project by Wisconsin Tribal Gaming Development LLC (formerly Kenesah Gaming Development LLC).

The U.S. Department of Interior rejected the proposed casino application in January. If the casino project was approved, the Mohegan Tribe would have developed the casino and managed it for seven years.

According to figures reported to the Wisconsin state ethics board, three lobbyists have been lobbying on behalf of the proposed casino since January 2007.

While the lobbying costs were $70,001 for the last calendar year, the lobbyists were paid $70,098 in calendar year 2007 for 79 hours of work.

The three registered lobbyists are Ray Carey, Richard Judge and Kathleen Walby.

The Menominee Tribe filed a lawsuit against Kempthorne and the Interior Department in November, when it appeared likely that the Tribe's land-into-trust application for the casino was slated to be denied.

The Menominee Tribe said it will try to overturn the project denial in court, contending that the federal government's guidelines are not legal.

The Mohegans have already invested at least $13 million in the Wisconsin casino project, according to Securities and Exchange Commission reports. That figure is likely to increase over time. Within days of the feds denying the Wisconsin project, Mohegan Tribal Council chairman Bruce Bozsum said the Tribe has set no limits as to when the project could become too costly for the Mohegan.

Related links:
http://ethics.state.wi.us/scripts/2007Session/LEOEL.asp?PrinID=3844
http://ethics.state.wi.us/scripts/2007Session/oel.asp?PrinID=3844&start=WI&start2=T

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Tribe In The News: Mohegan Tribal Court Part III

Feather News


This installment of The Tribe In The Media is the third article in The Day newspaper of New London covering the courtroom controversy at Mohegan:

When Growing Up Meets Secrecy
By David Collins
The Day newspaper
February 1, 2009

The Mohegan Tribe may be hundreds of years old, but it's very much in its infancy when it comes to running a modern government, with all kinds of public works, housing, education and entitlement programs.

All that has come with the fast-lane nation building that began after the successful opening of Mohegan Sun a little more than 10 years ago.

With the growth, and now also with a downturn in business, have come growing pains.

And some of those seem apparent in a case now in Mohegan Tribal Court in which a tribal member, William Bauer, is questioning the fairness of a “good standing” disciplinary action against him. He's accused of revealing on his Web site information the tribal government wants kept secret.

In fact, prosecutions like the one pending against him are contemplated as somewhat routine in a new Freedom of Information law passed recently by the Tribal Council that both provides access to government records but also make it an offense to reveal them.

This peek-a-boo FOI law has generated enough backlash among tribal members, in an election year, that a petition to bring it to referendum has passed, according to two Web sites run by tribal members, sites that appear to be direct targets of the new press-freedom crackdown.

The folly of a government that has grown as big as the Mohegans' still trying to operate with the insularity of a family was apparent in Mohegan Tribal Court Friday, as government lawyers tried to keep under court seal information that was once posted on Bauer's Web site for weeks before he took it down.

The paperwork in Bauer's lawsuit over his disciplinary action apparently includes some of the same information he is accused of disseminating on his Web site, hence the government's agitation.

It was also still theoretically part of a public court record when I asked a clerk to look at it the week before last. But in the days it took to make arrangements to see the file, it was sealed, prompting Friday's hearing to determine whether it will remain permanently sealed.

Attorney Helen Avalos, representing the tribe's Council of Elders, said she didn't exactly consider the file a public document before it was sealed because the council would have expected a phone call if someone had asked the court to look at it.

”I'd expect that as a matter of courtesy,” she said.

This prompted a sharp rebuke from Judge Jane W. Freeman, who asserted the openness of the Mohegan Court system.

”No calls are made to anyone when someone comes in and wants to see a file,” Freeman said.

Well, not really. In fact I'm quite sure calls were made, and indeed a file was sealed, at least temporarily, after I asked to see it.

Still, Judge Freeman conducted a thorough review Friday of the legal issues related to the sealing of the file and even unsealed the parts of it that the government does not object to making public. She's asked for legal briefs on the issue before she hands down her own written decision.

I believe the Mohegans in general know the importance of maintaining an open court system, especially one that is supposed to be an alternative jurisdiction to Connecticut courts, even if some prominent government officials don't like it.

Apparently some government officials take an even dimmer view of open government.

I wonder how well they'll be able to continue to keep things under wraps and in the family as business declines and hard decisions get even more scrutiny by tribal members.

Another tribal attorney suggested Friday, in arguing to put under seal the documents that had already been made public, that the genie isn't yet out of the bottle.

I'm not so sure about that.

This Is The Opinion Of David Collins.