Friday, December 24, 2010

Feds Agree To Establishment Of Cowlitz Tribe's Modern-Day "Initial Reservation"

Feather News

The federal Department of the Interior agreed to take a 152-acre parcel of land into trust as reservation land for the Cowlitz Tribe in the State of Washington. The tribe plans to build a casino on the land with the backing of the Mohegan Tribe.

Casino opponents are likely to challenge the federal government's decision, arguing that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Carcieri v. Salazar case does not allow the feds to take land into trust for the Cowlitz Tribe because the Tribe was federally recognized in 2000.

In a February 24, 2009 Feather News article, we wrote, "The ruling may not affect the Cowlitz Tribe's ability to have land taken into trust for its initial reservation" while the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority noted in its quarterly Securities and Exchange Commission filing following the 2009 court decision that "The Cowlitz Tribe did not receive federal recognition until 2000, so the tribe must establish that it was under federal jurisdiction in 1934 by separate means."

The next challenge will be to line up the financing for a casino. A $510 million casino was orignially planned but that figure could change based on the current economy and the inherent risk to investors and bankers of financing casinos on Indian lands.

The Feather News estimates that the Mohegan Tribe has invested at least $30 million in the project since a casino development and management agreement was made with the Cowlitz Tribe in September 2004.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2010 To End Without Congressional Approval To Fix Tribes' Ability To Add To Reservation Land

Feather News

Almost two years have passed since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can no longer increase the size of Indian reservations for tribes "not under federal jurisdiction" after 1934 and all congressional attempts to fix that court ruling by re-writing the law have failed.

The authority of the federal Department of the Interior to take land into trust as reservation land on behalf of tribes was turned on its head in 2009 when the State of Rhode Island argued that the 1934 law that authorized the federal government to take land into trust for tribes should only apply to tribes under federal jurisdiction as of the date that 1934 law was enacted. Since the Narragansett Tribe was not recognized by the federal government until 1983 and it was not shown that the Tribe was otherwise under federal jurisdiction before the 1934 law was enacted, the State of Rhode Island claimed the Secretary of Interior had no authority to add a parcel of land in Charlestown, R.I., to the Narragansett's reservation. The Supreme Court agreed.

Since the ruling in that case, Carcieri v. Salazar (Carcieri is the governor of Rhode Island and Salazar is the Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department), tribes have advocated a simple change to the law that would allow all federally recognized tribes to increase their land bases.

President Obama publicly supports such a 'fix' but Congress would not take up the amendment this week. Many in Congress are concerned that a simple 'fix' does not address what some legislators see as a troubling problem: tribes that seek to add land that is not close to their reservations for the purpose of building casinos in strategic locations. For that reason, a simple fix will likely not be so simple.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Photos: UConn Women's Basketball Team Sets National Winning Streak Record

The University of Connecticut women's basketball team set a new record for the longest college basketball winning streak after posting their 89th consecutive game last night. UConn surpassed the record of 88 consecutive wins set by the UCLA men's basketball team in the early 1970's. The UConn women, coached by Geno Auriemma, beat their 89 opponents by an average of 33 points per game.

The Mohegan Tribe's WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun, draws a host of its players from former UConn teams.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Aaron Athey To MC At Rock, Rattle And Drum Powwow On New Year's Eve Weekend

Feather News

Aaron Athey (Mohegan) will be the Master of Ceremonies at the Rock, Rattle and Drum Powwow that begins on New Year's Eve in Albany, N.Y., and lasts through January 2.

"Come stomp, dance, sing and shake your 'tail feathers' as we honor and recognize the original people of this land by celebrating New Year’s Eve at an American Indian Pow Wow with family and friends," the poster reads.

The event will be held in the Grand Ballroom at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Albany City Center, State and Lodge Streets, Albany, N.Y.

On New Years Eve, (that's Friday, December 31 for those of you who switched to the Mayan calendar) the doors open at 6 p.m. and the grand entry is at 8 p.m. On Saturday, January 1, the powwow will last from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and the grand entry is at noon and 7 p.m. On Sunday, January 2, the powwow will be from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and the grand entry will be at 1 p.m.

In addition to dancing, drumming, arts and crafts, a special performace will feature Grammy & Nammy Award Winning Flute Player Joseph FireCrow.

For more information, contact Healing Winds at 413-443-2481 or
For special overnight rates for dancers, drum groups and vendors (and presumably anybody else who can pass themselves off as dancers, drum groups and vendors) call the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 518-427-3018. Use the Reservation Group Code: CPB at

Mashantucket's Circle Of Care To Sponsor Intertribal Youth Skating Party On Dec. 30 In Groton

Feather News

The Mashantucket Pequot's Circle of Care, which assists tribal youths and families in New London County to live healthier, is sponsoring an intertribal skating party on Thursday, Dec. 30 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Galaxy Roller Rink, 210 Bridge St., Groton, CT. Tribal youths living in New London County age 12-22 are invited. For more information, call 860-396-6248.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Spirit Lake Indian Social Saturday Dec 18 In Groton

Feather News

The Spirit Lake Foundation is holding a social on Saturday, Dec. 18, in Groton from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.

The theme for the social is “Come Round Dance With Me” and will be held at at the City of Groton's City Municipal Building, 295 Meridian Street, Groton, CT.

Kenny Merrick says of the event: "Mr. Sheldon Sundown of the Seneca Nation will be the master of ceremonies for the evening. To all the children, Santa Claus will be there to take your Christmas list back to the North Pole and even take a picture with you. So tell mom and dad to bring you out for a fun evening. There will be Native American vendors from through out the New England area selling their arts and crafts, for the last minute Christmas shoppers. Dana Rondel, author of children’s books, novels, short stories, anthologies, essays and poetry. Will be signing and selling her new children book, The Sunflower and Rose, a hardcover with audio CD of music done by Kenny Merrick Jr. with a portion of the proceeds being donated to the Spirit Lake Foundation. We hope you can bring the whole family out for a great night of Native American Round Dancing, Singing, Food, Fun and Intertribal culture. Hope to see you all there. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Flash: ABC News Reports That PA.Gaming Board Revokes Foxwoods Philly Casino License

Feather News

ABC News just reported that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board revoked the Foxwoods Philly group's casino license.

According to the media outlet, "The [state gaming] board seemed to focus on three reasons in questioning the investors today: They submitted incomplete documents on the deal going forward, they changed the way charities would benefit from casino profits and the project as designed today is notably different than the project approved in December 2006." The gaming board voted 6-1 for the license revocation.

In other news, shares of Wynn stock rose over 5 percent by early afternoon.


Editorial: Pennsylvania Should Allow A Re-Worked Foxwoods Philly Casino To Become A Reality

Feather News

The Pennsylvania Gaming Conrol Board has the opportunity today to assure that a second Philadelphia casino will soon become a reality. The gaming board will consider a petition to revoke the license awarded to Philadelphia Entertainment & Development Partners. The state's best bet is to go forward with the new plans presented by the group, which includes a gaming arm of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and some prominent Philadelphians who have given much to the community.

The casino group contends that an agreement with Harrah's, which changed their name to Caesar's in recent days, will secure the needed changes to make the casino a reality. What more assurances are needed? To delay a decision will be yet another uneccessary roadblock that could doom the project, partly because of new state gaming board appointments in the coming year.

What's the alternative? Revoke the license and tack on several more years until a second Philadelphia casino is built?

Not all of the misteps were made by the casino group. The state should lay the blame where it belongs. Philadelphia city officials threw as many roadblocks as they could in the path of the proposed casino investors in defiance of the state gaming board that awarded the license. In defiance of a state Supreme Court ruling too, if I remember the events correctly. These early stumbling blocks were done intentionally by city officials and, what's worse - maliciously, at a critical time for the casino investment group. At a time when the group could have gone forward with building the casino. Since then, the group fell on difficult economic times.

The investment group never guaranteed they could build a casino over an indefinite time period. The gaming board awarded the casino license based, in part, on its review of the casino group's finances at the time the license was issued. So the gaming board agreed then that the casino could have been built early in the process. But for the malicious tactics of city officials that strung out that process, to the point where it was no longer feasible, the casino would be open by now.

If a lack of good faith is to be laid at anyone's door, it belongs at the door of city hall, not at the casino investors' door.

I don't criticize the mayor's office lightly. I've walked through the city hall's doors many times, albeit under the administration of the previous mayor and current governor while I worked at the city government's former 1600 Arch Street office.

So why blame the casino investment group? Earlier this year, the group relied on what seemed to have been a deal in the making with Steve Wynn. It fell through. Stuff happens but the investment group has consistently acted in good faith throughout the ordeal. Perhaps the same cannot be said for other parties involved throughout the entire process.

The petition to revoke the group's license should be denied. Nobody loses. If it later becomes apparent that the casino group can't follow through, then another petition can always be submitted. But not denying the petition today will be a tremendous injustice not just to the casino group but to the charitable groups that will get a cut of the profits, and to the integrity of gaming board's licensing process.

Let Gov. Rendell check off one last item on his list before he steps down from office next month.

Mohegan Sun And Foxwoods Report A Decline Of About 4 Million Bucks In November Slots

Feather News

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods reported yesterday that their November slot machine revenues, or the casino's win, fell by about $4 million at each casino compared to November 2009.

Mohegan Sun reported November slot machine revenue of $55.6 million, a decline of 6.7 percent compared to the same month last year, while Foxwoods reported slot revenue of $49.5 million, a decline of 7.8 percent. One year ago, in November 2009, Mohegan Sun posted $59.6 million in slot machine revenue while Foxwoods reported $53.7 million in that same month last year.

Over the past twelve months through November, Mohegan Sun's slot machine revenue is down 3.9 percent compared to the prior 12-month period. Foxwoods slot machine revenue has fallen by 5.3 percent in the most recent 12-month period compared to the prior 12 months. Over the three-month period of September through November, Mohegan Sun's slot revenue is down 5.6 percent while Foxwoods slot revenue is down 3 percent. Foxwoods redeemed about $7 million more than Mohegan Sun in slot machine "free play" promotions, given to attract customers to the casinos, over that three month period.

Both casinos redeemed more in slot machine free play promotions given out to customers this November than last year. Foxwoods has historically given out more free play to its customers on a monthly basis than Mohegan Sun and this November was no different. Foxwoods redeemed $5.5 million in free play during the month of November, about $1.2 million more than last November. Mohegan Sun redeemed $4.3 million in slot machine free play in November, about $800,000 more than November 2009.

Mohegan Sun's most profitable November monthly win at the slot machines was in 2006, when the casino recorded $73.3 million in revenue, about $18 million more than this past November's amount. Foxwoods' most profitable November at the slot machines was in November 2003, when the casino recorded almost $65 million in slot revenue, or about $15 million than the most recent November.

Foxwoods no longer overwhelmingly outguns the Mohegan Sun casino in the number of slot machines on its gaming floor. While Foxwoods had about 750 more slot machines than Mohegan Sun a year ago, Foxwoods reported only 200 more slot machines than did Mohegan Sun in figures reported yesterday to the state Division of Special Revenue. Foxwoods reported that 6,605 slot machines were in use during November and Mohegan Sun reported 6,405 machines.

Both casinos paid out to customers about 92 percent of the amount played at the slot machines (Mohegan Sun 91.96%, Foxwoods 91.82%).

Both casinos pay the state 25 percent of their net slot revenues to the state in addition to a fraction of their free play promotions. Combined, both casinos will pay the state about $27 million out of November's slot revenues.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Feather News Stock Picks

Feather News

Since its inception, the Feather News has only overtly proclaimed one buy/sell recommendation on a stock. That stock was Empire Resorts. Last February we said in a Feather News article, "If you buy it, cash out fast because Empire is a dog based on its financial statements ...." On that day, Empire Resorts was $2.26 per share. Today, the share price is $1.01, less than half its value since the day we recommended to dump it.

For some this was, and for some still is, a play on the Catskills casino dream. Empire Resorts runs the Monticello Raceway in the Catskills. Kien Huat Realty III, LTD, became the company's largest shareholder last year and is not to be underestimated. A related company of Kien Huat, the Malaysians that financed Foxwoods, won the bid to build and operate a slot parlor and other amenities at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y.

We're not in the business of making stock picks but, just for the record, we withdraw any recommendation from earlier in the year. We're not saying that it won't go lower, we're just saying that we withdraw any suggestion on this stock.

No Empire Resorts stock has been purchased by an insider since last May. One director of Empire Resorts has been selling shares consistently since last Spring. While sales of a stock by an insider (a director or large shareholder) can mean anything, there's usually only one reason stock purchases are made - to make money.

It should be noted that over the period of the last 11 months, when Empire Resorts took a nosedive, other gaming companies skyrocketed.

So what stocks should we buy? There are plenty of good companies out there, some that pay better dividends than the interest rates you're getting at the bank and that also give you an upside potential on the stock price itself. Of course, there's always that downside potential too. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Foxwoods Lands Exclusive Advertising For Last Five Minutes Of Games At Madison Square Garden And MSG Televised Games

Feather News

Viewers watching the last five minutes of New York Knicks, Rangers, Islanders and Devils games on the MSG network will soon see the Foxwoods logo on their television screen.

Inside Madison Square Garden, the Foxwoods name and logo will appear on the scoreboard for the last five minutes of Knicks and Ranger games. The name and logo will also be superimposed on the glass behind the goals during the last five minutes of hockey games.

The announcers will also mention Foxwoods during the five-minute sponsorship intervals.

The 'Final Five' sponsorship deal is the first deal of its kind for the Madison Square Garden sports conglomerate and was estimated to be worth a million bucks for, you guessed it, Five Years, according to an industry analyst who spoke to the New York Times. Five attempts to contact Brokenwing to confirm this amount were not successful.

Foxwoods inked a sponsorship last year with the WNBA New York Liberty team, which resulted in the placement of the Foxwoods logo on the players' jerseys. The Liberty advanced to the Western Conference finals last season.

Rob Victoria, Foxwoods' chief marketing officer, said that number of visitors from the New York area who visited the casino increased by three percent since the casino's sponsorship deal began with the Liberty.

The new MSG sponsorship deal is expected to be announced today by MSG and Foxwoods.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tribal Social To Be Held Sunday 1 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Feather News

This Sunday the Mohegan Tribe will host an intertribal social event at the Mohegan Sun Casino from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The social will include dancing, singing, giveaways, crafts, storytelling and refreshments. Guests are welcome to donate non-perishable food items that will be go to a local food bank.

The event will take place in the Mohegan Sun Casino's convention center. Call 1-860-862-6277 for directions. Invited drums only.

Mohegan Gaming Authority Credit Rating Slashed

Feather News

This installment of The Tribe In The Media series is an article in The Day newspaper yesterday on the downgrading of the Mohegan Gaming Authority's credit rating.

Mohegan Sun credit ratings lowered over financial woes
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day
December 1, 2010

Moody's Investors Service downgraded its bond ratings Tuesday on the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority and raised doubt about whether the authority can avoid a financial restructuring.

The agency lowered its corporate and probability-of-default ratings on the authority from "B3" to "Caa2," a designation reserved for high-risk debt.

The Moody's downgrade followed similar action last week by Standard & Poor's, another credit-rating agency, which lowered its rating on the authority from "B" to "CCC."

The gaming authority operates the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Leo Chupaska, the authority's chief financial officer, said the downgrades were not unexpected.

"We thought it would happen," he said. "Since we announced we're working with Blackstone (a major corporate advisory firm), there's been a lot of speculation about how we're going to deal with our (debt) maturities. Right now, we're in a refinancing mode. We haven't talked about restructuring. We really haven't said anything. We're still talking about refinancing."

In a refinancing, a debtor typically negotiates better loan terms, including extending maturity dates, while a restructuring often involves a creditor receiving less money than it is owed.

In a Nov. 12 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the authority announced that Blackstone Advisory Partners LP was providing help with "strategic planning and analysis in connection with its business and financial goals, including operational improvements, contemplated hotel projects and … bank and bond maturities."

Authority executives declined to elaborate on Blackstone's involvement during a Nov. 23 conference call with investors and gaming industry analysts.

During the call, Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the authority and of Mohegan Sun, announced that as of Jan. 1 he will turn over responsibility for the day-to-day operation of the casino to Jeffrey Hartmann, executive vice president and chief operating officer, who will succeed him as CEO of the casino. Etess said he will concentrate on developing new business opportunities as CEO of the authority.

MTGA executives also discussed the authority's financial results for the quarter and fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, reporting a net loss of $26.3 million for the quarter and a profit of $9.7 million for the fiscal year.

Standard & Poor's, which announced its ratings downgrade the day after the call, noted that the gaming authority also reported a 6.5 percent decline in adjusted EBITDA - earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization - for the fiscal year.

"We had previously cited our expectation that EBITDA would be relatively flat in fiscal 2010," Standard & Poor's said. The agency also placed the gaming authority on "CreditWatch" with negative implications.

"The ratings downgrade and CreditWatch listing reflect weaker-than-expected operating performance in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2010, in addition to substantial refinancing needs beginning in 2012, when MTGA's $675 million bank credit facility and $250 million senior subordinated notes mature," Melissa Long, a Standard & Poor's credit analyst, said in a statement.

Moody's lowered its rating on each of six layers of the authority's outstanding bonds. In announcing the downgrades late Tuesday afternoon, it said the authority could have trouble refinancing upcoming maturities "without some impairment to bondholders given its high leverage … limited near-term growth prospects for Mohegan Sun Casino, the likely continuation of weak consumer gaming demand trends in the Northeastern U.S., and the strong possibility of gaming in Massachusetts."

Moody's said its "negative ratings outlook" for the authority reflects the short time frame in which MTGA has to address "a significant capital structure issue." If the authority is unable to refinance by March 2011, its $675 million revolving bank loan will become due, Moody's said. The same holds true for the authority's $250 million senior subordinated notes if they are not refinanced by April 2011.

Moody's had placed the authority on review for a possible downgrade in September, after layoffs of hundreds of Mohegan Sun employees. Both rating agencies warned that they could lower their ratings further if the authority proceeds with a restructuring plan that results in bondholders being offered less than they are owed.

Mohegan Sun's neighboring competitor, Foxwoods Resort Casino, has been seeking to restructure more than $2 billion in debt for more than a year. It has defaulted on a $700 million revolving bank loan and a series of bond interest payments.

Casinos across the country have faced financial difficulties brought on by the recession, which has curtailed gamblers' spending and, consequently, casino revenues.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Credit Rating Agency Downgrades Mohegan Gaming Authority Debt

Feather News

A report was issued yesterday by Moody's Investor's Service, a Wall Street credit rating agency, that is expected to announce a downgrade in the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's debt.

A second major Wall Street credit ratings ageny, S&P, cut the rating on MTGA debt to 'CCC,' according to Bloomberg News. The credit rating reflects the highly speculative nature of MTGA's debt.

S&P is anticipating MTGA's "increasingly likely" need to restructure its debt load. Of MTGA's approximately $1.6 billion of total debt, $925 million will be due for repayment in 2012. Bank debt accounts for $675 million of the $925 million amount while the other $250 million represents senior subordinated notes bought by investors and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The $250 million was borrowed in 2002 and has an 8 percent coupon rate.

The credit downgrades come on the heels of MTGA's announcement last week that it lost $26.3 million in the months of July through September. A major factor in the loss was a result of writing off $66.4 million, spent primarily on a stalled hotel project, which MTGA determined "did not have any future benefit."

About three weeks ago, MTGA annnounced publicly that it retained Blackstone Advisory Partners as a financial advisor. According to The Day newspaper, Blackstone also works with some of the holders of debt owed by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

The Mohegan Tribe's gaming arm also announced a shuffling of executives last week. Today, MTGA filed with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission the following report on those changes:

"On November 23, 2010, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (the “Authority”) announced certain changes to its senior executive management structure effective January 1, 2011. Mitchell Grossinger Etess, age 52 and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Authority and Mohegan Sun, will be ceding day-to-day responsibilities of Mohegan Sun to Jeffrey E. Hartmann, age 49, who will become President and Chief Executive Officer of Mohegan Sun. Mr. Hartmann is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Authority and Mohegan Sun. Mr. Etess will continue as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Authority. Raymond Pineault, age 44, will become Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Mohegan Sun to replace Mr. Hartmann. Mr. Pineault is currently Senior Vice President of Casino Operations for Mohegan Sun."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Official: New York Signs Over Land In The Catskills To Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans

Feather News

New York Gov. David Paterson settled a 23,000-acre, 14-year old land claim with the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans on Monday by transferring rights to the Tribe for 333 acres in the Catskill Mountain location of Sullivan County and 1.84 acres in Madison County.

The federal government must still approve taking the land into trust for the Tribe as reservation land.

The Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans moved from Stockbridge, MA, to settle on land that is now Madison County in 1785 at the invitation of the Oneida Indian Nation but later removed to Wisconsin, the current location of the Tribe's reservation.

Representatives of the Oneida Nation are upset over the deal and said it should be investigated. “The deal made by Governor Paterson and Madison County leadership with the Stockbridge Munsee was shrouded in secrecy,” said Mark Emery, an Oneida Nation spokesman.

The land deal brings the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans one step closer to their goal of building a casino in the Catskill Mountains as well as reclaiming aboriginal lands. The principals of Trading Cove Associates, the group that built and managed the Mohegan Sun Casino, are partners of the Stockbridge-Munsee in their quest to build a casino about ten miles from the Monticello Racetrack in the Catskill Mountains.

U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer joined Paterson when the agreement was announced. "This compact is not a guarantee, but it's the closest we've come. Our message to the Department of Interior is simple: Just say yes," said Schumer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Editorial: Etess To Be Replaced By Hartmann As Mohegan Sun CEO

Feather News

Feather News

During this morning's conference call with analysts on the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's fourth quarter loss, it was announced that MTGA CEO Mitchell Etess will be replaced as the CEO of Mohegan Sun by the authority's chief operating officer Jeff Hartmann.

Etess is a marketing genius, Hartmann is a financial guru. The changeover to Hartmann is a relief. Hartmann knows the operations and adds a strong financial perspective that is needed in these precarious times.

The Tribe is fortunate to have someone like Jeff ready to take the helm.

Etess will focus his energy toward developing new business opportunities for MTGA.

The changeover will take effect January 1, 2011.

Note: This article was updated to reflect that Etess will be replaced as CEO of Mohegan Sun. Etess will continue to retain the title of CEO of the gaming authority.

Flash: Mohegan Gaming Authority Reports $26.3 Million Loss In 4th Quarter

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported a $26.3 million loss for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010.

The fourth quarter is the period of July 1 through September 30, the busiest three months of the year for the gaming company.

Last year, MTGA reported a profit of $66.4 million for the same three months.

Three unusual transactions had a material effect on the bottom line number:

1) This year's loss includes a $58.1 million impairment charge related to halting the hotel construction. The pit of steel and cement in the ground that was to be a hotel was basically written off, finally.

2) MTGA expensed $9.9 million during the quarter that related to severance packages resulting from the mass layoffs that took place over the summer.

3) The loss would have been $52 million and not $26.3 million had it not been for the accounting treatment of the Trading Cove contract, which allowed MTGA to add $26.5 million to the fourth quarter's bottom line under the assumption that Trading Cove (which is paid 5 percent of Mohegan Sun's revenues, not including revenues generated in the Casino of the Wind area or anything off the reservation) will be paid less over the course of the 15-year contract that ends on December 31, 2014.

Had MTGA not booked the above three transactions, MTGA would have ended up with a profit of about $15 million for the quarter. This figure is comparable to last year's fourth quarter where profits were reported at $66.4 million but that figure included a $45.7 million adjustment related Trading Cove. Had that annual adjustment of $45.7 million not been included, then profits in the fourth quarter of 2009 would have been $20.7 million.

Distributions from MTGA to the tribal government are not taken into account when determining MTGA's profits and losses. The distributions reduce a balance sheet item, retained earnings, and are not deducted as an expense. "Distributions to the Tribe totaled $61.5 million and $71.5 million for the fiscal years ended September 30, 2010 and 2009, respectively," according to the press release.

Here is what the report said about the stalled hotel project on the reservation: "During the quarter ended September 30, 2010, the Authority re-evaluated its options with respect to the new hotel element of the project, and based on a modified plan, which encompasses a smaller hotel to be located closer to the existing hotel, determined that certain assets did not have any future benefit to the Authority. Accordingly, the Authority recorded a $58.1 million impairment charge during the quarter ended September 30, 2010."

Gaming revenue at Mohegan Sun fell 1.1 percent to $265 million and non-gaming revenue was abourt $64 million, an increase of 8.1 percent over the same three-month period in the prior year. A decline in slot revenue at Mohegan Sun was bolstered by an increase in table game revenue for the quarter. At Pocono Downs, slot revenue increased 1.6 percent over the fourth quarter in 2009.

Total debt was reported at $1.64 billion and interest expense for the entire fiscal year was $116 million.

The figures in the press release are not audited yet. The fourth quarter's financial statements, which will be audited and also include the balance sheet and statement of cash flows, are expected to be released at the end of December.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Foxwoods Philadelphia Casino Plan To Become Harrah's Philadelphia Project In Three Weeks

Feather News

Pennsylvania's gaming regulatory body, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, gave investors in the stalled Foxwoods Philadelphia casino project a three-week deadline, possibly their last chance, to show that a deal has been inked with Harrah's Entertainment and that financing will be available to make the casino a reality.

The investors that hope to keep the gaming license, called the Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners, includes Foxwoods and high-profile Philadelphians with close ties to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, whose term as governor ends in January.

The December 10 deadline was given to the investors at a gaming board meeting yesterday. The PEDP group showed the state gaming board new illustrations of what the South Philly casino would look like under their tentative plans. The first phase, projected to cost $275 million and open for business in the summer of 2012, would include 1,500 slot, 80 table games and three restaurants.

Should the investors produce the required documents to meet the December 10 deadline, the group still would require gaming board approvals for a change in ownership, financing, design modifications and a gaming license extension.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

N.Y. Governor's Office Issues Statement That It Is Ready To Settle Land Claim With Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans

Feather News

A spokesperson for New York Gov. David Paterson said yesterday that the administration is close to settling a land claim with the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohicans that would result in a one-acre reservation in Madison County, N.Y.

The one-acre parcel would settle the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican's 24,000-acre land claim in Madison County.

The Tribe's last attempt to secure land in New York was rejected by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in January 2008 when the BIA rejected about a dozen land-into-trust proposals that sought lands for off-reservation casinos. The BIA rejected the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican land-into-trust proposal because the land sought in the Catskill Mountains was too far from their land base in Wisconsin. The BIA's rejection of several land-into-trust proposals marked the first use of a controversial policy that denied land applications based on their distance from a tribe's reservation base.

The details of the land claim settlement plans are not yet public but the distance from the town of Stockbridge, located in Madison County, to the Catskill Mountain location where the Tribe wants a casino and owns land, is about 150 miles. The distance could be slightly less, depending on which parcel is targeted for settlement.

The developers of a possible Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican casino are the principles of Trading Cove Associates, the group that developed and managed the Mohegan Sun casino and, later, purchased and expanded the Twin Rivers slot parlor in Rhode Island.

The proposed casino location in Bridgeville, in the Catskill Mountains, is less than 100 miles from New York City and the Mohegan Tribe's casino in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

Despite an MSNBC commentator's description this morning on the Morning Joe show describing the Tribe as the Milwaukee Braves, the Tribe settled in the town of Stockbridge, N.Y., in the late 1700's and claims the land was illegally taken.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mohegan Gaming Authority To Release 4th Quarter Operating Results On Tuesday, Nov. 23

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority will release its fourth quarter operating results on Tuesday, November 23, 2010. The period to be reported on will be for the three months of July through September, which is the last quarter in fiscal year 2010.

The operating results will show how table games have impacted the Tribe's casino in Pennsylvania. Table games at the Pennsylvania facility began in the month of July.

A conference call with financial analysts will also be on Tuesday, Noveember 23.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Foxwoods Slot Revenue Increases 4.5% In October, Mohegan Sun Slot Revenue Declines 4.2% In October

Feather News

Foxwoods reported a 4.5 percent increase in its October slot machine revnue when compared to the same month last year while Mohegan Sun reported that its slot machine revenue fell by 4.2 percent in October.

Foxwoods reported slot machine revenue, the amount lost by customers at the machines, of $57.2 million in October while Mohegan Sun’s October revenue fell 4 percent to $60.3 million.

Both tribal casinos pay the State of Connecticut 15 percent of their slot machine revenue.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Mohegan Gaming Authority Expected To Release 4th Quarter Profits As Soon As Next Week

Feather News

If last year is any indication, then the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority could release its fourth quarter results from operations as early as next week. The results from operations report is essentially a glimpse at profits, in this case the profits for the three-month period of July through September.

Last year, MTGA released the figures on November 20 but the release date this year could be different from last year's date. We have not confirmed the release date (the Feather News is considering an investment in a telephone in the upcoming year, which we are told is a useful tool in the reporting industry). The three-month period, which is MTGA's last quarter in the fiscal year that ended on September 30, is also expected to be the busiest quarter of the year given the seasonal nature of gambling in the Northeast.

Profits were slim over the summer months last year. The Feather News reported on November 20, 2009, " Profits (or net income) for the fourth quarter [of fiscal year 2009], which is the three-month period of July through September, was reported to be $66.4 million but this figure includes a one-time annual adjustment of $45.7 million that relates to estimated payouts to the casino's former management company, Trading Cove Associates. Had the one-time annual adjustment of $45.7 million not been included, then profits would have been $20.7 million for what is by far the busiest three-month period in MTGA's seasonal calendar. Note that distributions to the tribal government are not deducted from the profit figure."

Basically what that means is that even though MTGA pays out money to Trading Cove Associates, the manner in which the accounting is done allowed MTGA to treat the transaction as adding to profits. In a nutshell, during the fourth quarter of every fiscal year, the accountants estimate what the total remaining payout to Trading Cove will be up until the contract ends on December 31, 2014 (which is recorded as a liability on the balance sheet) and since the payouts over that entire period were estimated to be lower than previous estimates, they take that difference and it goes to the fourth quarter's bottom line.

And, poof, a bad year looks much better on paper. It is impossible to understand MTGA's financial statements without a clear understanding of the accounting treatment of the Trading Cove contract.

In 2001, when the expansion first opened, MTGA had a bad year and the accounting treatment of the Trading Cove contract added to profits in that year also even though MTGA paid money out to Trading Cove. But the closer MTGA gets to that 2014 contract end date, the smaller the adjustments will be to the estimated remaing Tracing Cove payout.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Editorial: Veteran's Day Tribute

Feather News

I continue to be surprised that despite the tragic treatment of Indians since colonization, our Indian nations are always cognizant of the value of military service given by Indians on behalf of the United States of America.

Indian veterans carry the flag of the United States side-by-side with with their tribal flags or staffs at the head of many tribal ceremonies. Or, in military parlance, at the point position.

More Indians have died serving the United States in battle than any other ethnic group, on a per capita basis. Yet Indian lands appropriated through colonial conquest is recognized as the foundation of land title law in the United States. Go figure.

Mohegans, as well as Indians of other tribal nations, have served this country in every war since the Revolutionary War.

The warrior tradition runs deep in Indian Country, predating the colonists, and plays a large part in explaining what to many is a value system difficult to comprehend given the history between the nations. Even if the U.S. flag flies over this land, it is still the land where we come from and the land that is to be protected.

As a military veteran - formerly a military cop, demolition specialist, and combat engineer officer - I want to extend my best wishes to the other veterans reading this, pause to remember those who gave their lives, and wish those in battle a safe return.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rhode Island's Twin River Slot Parlor Emerges From Bankruptcy With Debt Cut In Half

Feather News

The Twin River slot parlor in Lincoln, R.I., emerged from bankruptcy yesterday with new owners and a balance sheet that is about $300 million lighter in debt.

Over the 17 months that Twin River was under bankruptcy protection, besides slicing its debt almost in half, the facility's owners convinced the state to allow it to remain open 24 hours a day and to eliminate its money-losing, dog-abusing greyhound races.

Twin River is now owned by a group of banks and financial firms.

Twin River was not successfull, however, in convincing the governor to approve a bill that would have resulted in a referendum on allowing table games.

Mashantucket Pequots Elect Two Tribal Councilors, Appoint New Foxwoods Casino CEO

Feather News

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe elected current councilor Marjorie Colebut-Jackson and former councilor Fatima Dames to the Tribal Council on Sunday.

The Tribe also named Scott Butera to the position of president and chief operating officer of the tribally-owned Foxwoods Casino. Butera, a former investment banker and chief operating officer for Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, will leave his job as the president and CEO of Tropicana Entertainment. Butera will replace Foxwoods' current interim president, William Sherlock.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Mohegan Tribe's Don Chapman To Participate In NY Stock Exchange Opening Bell Ceremony

Feather News

Don Chapman, the senior advisor on Native American affairs to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, will be part of the New York Stock Exchange's opening bell ceremony on the morning of November 11. Chapman will participate along with Navajo Code Talker veterans.

Chapman is believed to hold the highest ranking federal office of any Mohegan tribal member.

Chapman also took part in his federal capacity today in a ceremony to unveil a 2,400-pound sculpture of an Indian on the James River in Richmond, VA. The dedication, which marks the statue's removal from its previously controversial spot at the minor leage baseball stadium of the Richmond Braves, also kicks off Native American History Month.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Blumenthal Wins Senate Seat As Republicans Take Control Of House Of Representatives

Feather News

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal beat Linda McMahon yesterday to capture the retiring Sen. Chris Dodd's seat in the U.S. Senate.

Sen. Dodd, who has been extremely supportive the Mohegan Tribe, will leave the Senate at the beginning of January.

Repubicans won control of the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday and picked up more seats in the U.S. Senate, which will inevitably lead to a greater discussion over future legislation.

Democrat Dan Malloy was declared the winner over Republican Tom Foley in the election for governor of Connecticut.

Gov. Deval Patrick won re-election in Massachusetts and Andrew Cuomo will be New York's next governor.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Native Veterans Invited To Ceremony At Mashantucket Pequot Museum On Nov. 13

Feather News

The annual ceremony honoring Native Veterans will be held at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center from 12:00 until 2:00 on November 13. Information on the event can be found below:

Selected November events posted by the museum are as follows:

Saturdays, Nov. 6, 20, & 27, 1 & 3 pm
November Films Honoring Native Veterans
The Pequot Museum is screening three films, each about an hour long, to recognize and honor Native warriors in the armed forces of the United States and Canada. Free with Museum admission, free to Museum members.

Nov. 6, 1 & 3 pm: Forgotten Warriors. Canadian aboriginal soldiers fought for their country only to return home to face discrimination, including the loss of tribal lands to returning non-Native veterans. A National Film Board of Canada production.

Nov. 20, 1 & 3 pm: Warriors. The story of Native Americans who served in Vietnam, including their experiences after the conflict. A MacArthur Foundation Library Video Project, the film is distributed by the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium.

Nov. 27, 1 & 3 pm: Navajo Code Talkers. Navajo tribal members played a crucial role during World War II as radio operators in the Pacific Theater. A MacArthur Foundation Library Video Project, the film is distributed by the Native American Public Broadcasting Consortium.

Saturday, Nov. 13, 12-2 pm
Honoring Native Veterans Ceremony
Join Mashantucket Pequot and other Native veterans in a ceremony acknowledging the contributions of all members of the armed services. Guest speaker discusses code talkers; Mystic River Drum provides honoring-the-flag songs. The public is invited; Native veterans register for the event by calling (860) 396-6954 by Nov. 10. Free with Museum admission; free to Museum members.

Saturday, Nov 13, 2:30-3:30 pm
Comanche Code Talkers of World War II
In conjunction with the Honoring Native Veterans Ceremony and the Mashantucket Gallery's exhibit, Native Words, Native Warriors, Dr. William Meadows speaks about Native American code talkers in WW I and WWII. Free with Museum admission, free to Museum members. The Smithsonian Community Grant program, funded by MetLife Foundation, is a proud sponsor of this public program.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 10-11 am
Pequot War: Technology & Tactics
Join Museum Research Director Dr. Kevin McBride and military historian David Naumec to gain insights into the weapons and tactics used during the Pequot War. Examine artifacts from the Mystic Fort and other sites recovered during 2010 field work. Demonstrations show the warfare used by each side in the war. Free with Museum admission, free to Museum members.

Saturday, Nov. 20, 1-5 pm
Battlefields of the Pequot War Bus Tour
Museum Research Director Kevin McBride leads a tour of battlefields, routes of march and retreat, and campsites of the Pequot War of 1636-1638. Examine historical records and physical evidence relating to the war, use a military terrain model to help plot battlefield sites, and take a bus to the sites that have been identified and studied in Groton and Stonington. Dress for the woods and difficult terrain. Rain or shine. Limited to 25, ages 12 and older. $30/$25 Museum members. Call (800) 411-9671 by Nov. 13 to register.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Foxwoods Philly Casino Revived With Harrah's Talks

Feather News

This installment of the Tribes In The Media is an article in the Atlantic City Press on a tentative deal between Harrah's and the group licensed to build a Foxwoods Philadelphia casino in Pennsylvania.

Harrah's Entertainment seeks minority ownership to run Philadelphia's Foxwoods casino
By Brian Ianieri and Eric Scott Campbell
October 27, 2010

Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest gaming company and owner of four Atlantic City casinos, wants a larger stake in the rival market growing across the Delaware River.

Harrah’s announced plans Tuesday to salvage the troubled Foxwoods casino project in Philadelphia. Under the terms, Harrah’s would take a minority ownership and run the riverfront property on South Columbus Boulevard.

The plan drew mixed reactions from Atlantic City observers, analysts and state legislators as Harrah’s seeks a stronger hold in a new market an hour’s drive away on the Atlantic City Expressway.

“Harrah’s only interest is their corporate bottom line in Nevada. They don’t care about Atlantic City. They don’t care about New Jersey,” said state Sen. Raymond Lesniak, D-Union, a proponent of bringing video lottery terminals to the Meadowlands. “They made a corporate decision they’ll make more money in a casino in Philadelphia than they’ll lose draining it from Atlantic City,” he said.

Others believe there could be benefits to Atlantic City by having Harrah’s own casinos in both markets — potentially building a larger base of loyal gamblers.

The deal between Harrah’s and the existing Foxwoods investors, Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners, hinges on regulatory approval and sufficient financing. The existing investment partners include the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Connecticut and a large group of Philadelphia-area investors.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is considering stripping the license of the proposed Philadelphia casino beset by years of delays due to financial problems and neighborhood opposition. Oral arguments are scheduled for today.

Investors in Foxwoods hope the casino can open in 2012 with 1,500 slot machines, more than 70 table games, restaurants and a sports bar.

“Atlantic City has known for several years now that there was going to be a second casino in Philadelphia. The more supply there is outside Atlantic City, the less demand there will be inside Atlantic City,” said Joe Weinert, senior vice president at Spectrum Gaming Group in Linwood, a consulting firm that previously worked with Harrah’s.

The proposed deal means existing creditors, which include Harrah’s and Citizens Bank, would agree to restructure interests, the investment company said in a release Tuesday. Through the partnership, Harrah’s would invest more money in the property and be given a management role.

For a number of years, Harrah’s has discussed a role it could play in the proposed Foxwoods casino, said Jacqueline Peterson, spokeswoman for Harrah’s.

Harrah’s is limited in what it can say because it is in a “quiet period” mandated by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission as it plans to move from a private company to a publicly traded one.

Harrah’s owns the Harrah’s Chester Casino & Racetrack in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia’s first casino — the $355 million SugarHouse Casino — opened in September. The Foxwoods property is a vacant riverfront lot close to Interstate 95 interchanges. Pennsylvania legalized casino gambling in 2004. The first slot parlor opened in 2006, and the first casinos with table games opened this year.

New Jersey state Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said the potential move illustrates the need to make Atlantic City a location that cannot be replicated elsewhere, one that’s cleaner, safer, brighter, with more dining and more shopping.

“It’s a stark reminder of the competitive nature of this business and of how important it is we make Atlantic City a very unique experience, because if we don’t we are going to be in deep trouble,” Van Drew said. “If we don’t do that, it’s a moot point whether it’s Harrah’s or somebody else.”

Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford said of the Harrah’s arrangement, “I really don’t know what that might mean,” declining further comment.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s office declined to comment on Tuesday.

Jane Pedreira, a gaming analyst for FBR Capital Markets & Co., said the move makes sense for Harrah’s.

“It allows them to hedge a little bit, to mitigate the declines they’ve had,” she said.

“I would say it’s very synergistic,” Pedreira said. They’ll have customers that will want to play in Atlantic City as well. I don’t feel it necessarily means they’re going to take Atlantic City customers and steer them in any direction, but I think it makes their customers more loyal if they have a choice.”

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a positive for Atlantic City, but I think it’s probably the least negative,” she said. “If you’re going to have an owner, might as well make it an owner with (four) properties.”

In Atlantic City, Harrah’s owns Bally’s, Caesars, Showboat and Harrah’s Resort.

“All of those (Pennsylvania) properties are just another form of convenience gaming, and Atlantic City needs to be much more than that,” said Assemblyman Vincent Polistina, R-Atlantic, who said he was confident Harrah’s would use Foxwoods to divert customers to Atlantic City for a richer experience.

Assemblyman John Amodeo, R-Atlantic, said another Philadelphia casino will create more competition.

“As a partner in Atlantic City they should try to concentrate on Atlantic City and not worry about developing in a neighboring state where that competition has targeted us. I have friends in Pennsylvania that still want to travel to our amenities ... there’s a world of difference.”

A group called Casino Free Philadelphia has been pushing the gaming board to revoke Foxwood’s license to block casino gambling in the Philadelphia.

“It’s been four years since they got the license. They haven’t been able to put together the financing,” said group spokesman Dan Hajdo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Groundbreaking For New York City Slot Parlor Is Thursday

Feather News

The groundbreaking for a facility that will hold the first 1,600 VLT slot machines at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y., will be on Thursday.

Resorts World New York, as it will be known, will eventually grow to include about 4,500 VLT slot machines.

Resorts World is about 130 miles from the Mohegan Sun and will likely be the casino's next competitor since the first phase of the slot parlor is expected to be completed in May.

Genting New York LLC, was awarded a 30-year franchise during the summer to build and operate the slot parlor. Genting is a subsidiary of the Malaysian company that financed the building of Foxwoods casino.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Palmer City Council Presidents Says His Support For A Mohegan-Backed Casino Is His Personal Viewpoint, Not Speaking For City Council

Feather News

This installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in The Republican media outlet of Massachusetts concerning the Palmer Town Council President stressing that his support of a possible Mohegan-backed casino in Palmer reflects his personal viewpoint and that he is not speaking for the City Council.

Casino backer aims to clear air
Lori Stabile
The Republican
October 22, 2010

PALMER - It's no secret that Town Council president Paul E. Burns supports a casino opening in Palmer, but some people still apparently have a problem with him.

Burns read from a prepared statement at a recent Town Council meeting reiterating that his views on the casino are his own, and are not reflective of the council, which has not taken an official stand on the issue.

Because Burns has been such a proponent of Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun's plan to build a resort casino across from the Massachusetts Turnpike exit on Route 32, he also has opened himself to criticism - from people he said he bumps into at the store to his fellow councilors who have told him that it seems like he's speaking for them.

"I felt it was necessary," Burns said about making the public statement.

In the statement, Burns explained that he will continue to advocate for a casino and that he views it as a fight for jobs and economic development opportunities for the town. He also said he thinks it will provide a significant source of revenue "in a time of declining revenues in general."

"As an elected official, I feel advocating for jobs, development and revenue is an appropriate role," Burns said.

"Having said that, I know there are concerns on the part of some on this council and in the community that my statements and comments may be construed to imply the approval of the Town Council for this development. While I make it a point to state that I am only speaking for myself when I present my views on the issue, that statement is not always included in media coverage," he said.

Burns said he hopes that by making the public statement he finally will put the issue "to bed."

At-large Councilor Michael R. Magiera and District 4 Councilor Roger R. Duguay Jr. have said that they think Burns has been clear that his views were his own.

Burns is the only councilor, however, to regularly appear at Mohegan-related functions and send out press releases in support of the project. He also spoke at a gaming summit in Connecticut.

But he is not the only one who has publicly voiced his support either. In October 2009, Burns issued a press release saying Magiera, District 1 Councilor Philip J. Hebert and at-large councilor Karl S. Williams support the concept of a casino in Palmer. Hebert also has appeared at Mohegan functions and pro-casino rallies, but not as often as Burns.

James L. St. Amand, Northeast Realty's community liaison, said Burns as council president has every right to take a stand on the issue.

"When you're involved in politics you're always going to have people take a different position. He's done not only a fine job with the casino but a nice job on economic development just by letting people know that Palmer is available for development," St. Amand said.

Northeast Realty is leasing the property off Thorndike Street (Route 32) to Mohegan so it can build a casino, should casino gaming become legal in the commonwealth.

Kathleen C. Norbut, of Monson, past president of United to Stop Slots, had this to say about Burns and St. Amand. St. Amand also is vice-chairman of the School Committee: "Why have two local elected officials taken such strong positions for proposals that don't adequately protect the town when our wizened state senator and their equally astute state representative voted no?" Norbut said.

Norbut was referring to state Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, and Rep. Todd M. Smola, R-Palmer, who voted against the casino legislation that ultimately failed this summer.

By Lori Stabile, Casino backer aims to clear air, The Republican, Oct. 22, 2010, at:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mohegan Sun At Pocono Downs Adds More Table Games, Generates Lower Table Game Revenue In September

Feather News

Table game figures for the month of September were released by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board yesterday, which reflect lower table game revenues in September at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs than the month of August while the number of table games on the casino's floor were increased from 72 to 84 tables.

In September, the amount lost by gamblers at the Tribe's Pennsylvania casino was $3.4 million, compared to $3.5 million lost by gamblers in August. The amount lost by gamblers is commonly referred to in the industry as the "win" or table game revenue. These figures do not take into account any expenses associated with running the games or the table game taxes paid to the state.

The following are the results for the month of September, in descending order of table game revenue. The number of table games at each casino is shown next to the name of each casino. Note that the Tribe's table game revenue was rounded off to $3.4 million in the above narrative.

Mount Airy and Sands Bethlehem are the Tribe's two closest competitors in Pennsylvania. A public suitability hearing will take place in November on a possible third close competitor, the Bushkill Group, which is seeking a Category 3 gaming license for a casino in the Pocono Mountain county of Monroe.

Parx Casino - 57 tables, $6,529,448
Harrah's - 99 tables, $5,326,848
The Rivers - 85 tables, $4,942,013
Sands Bethlehem - 89 tables, $4,876,562
Mount Airy - 72 tables, $4,038,919
Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs - 84 tables, $3,366,195
Penn National - 54 tables, $2,725,799
Meadows - 66 tables, $2,485,586
Presque Isle - 48 tables, $1,708,391

Note: The Sugar House Casino in Philadelphia was not open for the full month of September. Sugar House opened in the last week of September and generated $866,366 on its 40 tables.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

20th Annual Powwow At Warwick, R.I.'s Trudeau Center On Oct 23-24

Feather News

The 20th annual powwow will be held at the Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center in Warwick, R.I. on October 23-24. The event will be held from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on both days. The host drums will be the Split Feather Singers and the Wolf Cry Singers.

The admission is free. The Arthur Trudeau Memorial Center is located at: 3445 Post Road, Warwick, R.I. Contact Ed Egan for information at 401-739-2700, ext. 278.

Akwesasne Mohawks Become Second Tribe In New York To Halt Casino Payments To State

Feather News

The Akwesasne Mohawk Tribe said they are halting casino revenue sharing payments to the State of New York. The Tribe becomes the second tribe in the state to stop casino payments to the State of New York, following the Seneca Nation's refusal to send over $200 million in payments to the state, objecting to alleged violations of the Tribe's gaming exclusivity agreement on the part of the state.

The Tribe says that their refusal to pay the state has nothing to do with the controversy over taxing cigarettes sold on the reservation and was not done in coordination with the Seneca Nation's decision to halt payments to the state, according to an AP article.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hamilton Elected To Tribal Council

Feather News

The following installment of The Tribe In The Media is an article in today's The Day newspaper on the election of Jonathan Hamilton to the Mohegan Tribal Council and the subsequent election of Council officers.

Bozsum to again head Mohegan Tribal Council
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day
October 19, 2009

Mohegan - Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, chairman of the Mohegan Tribal Council from 2005 to 2009, was returned to the office Monday in a vote of the council's nine members.

The election of council officers, held in private, followed a special election in which tribal members chose Jonathan Hamilton to fill a vacancy on the council.

"It's a role that I feel very comfortable in," Bozsum said of the chairmanship in a phone interview later in the day. "I've had the position before, and I said it was something I was looking forward to doing again someday - and today is that day."

The council governs the Uncasville-based tribe and also oversees Mohegan Sun, the tribe's casino.

Bozsum, council vice chairman since 2009, had been acting chairman since August, when former Chairwoman Lynn Malerba resigned from the council to become the tribe's chief for life. Malerba had unseated Bozsum as chairman following the 2009 council elections.

The 50-year-old Bozsum, who is also the tribe's ceremonial pipe carrier, was first elected to the council to fill a vacancy in 2004. He acknowledged that he returns to the chairmanship at a difficult time.

"We're challenged every day with the economy the way it is," he said. "Our goal is to protect everything we have and to keep things going and alive. As a council, we're closely involved with the day-to-day operation of the casino. We make all the final decisions, whether it's marketing, financial dealings … every piece goes through the council."

Last Friday, for example, the council approved the design of a new restaurant scheduled to open at the casino in the spring.

Bozsum said the tribe remains "very committed" to pursuing a casino project in western Massachusetts, where it has optioned property for a smaller version of Mohegan Sun in the town of Palmer in the event Massachusetts approves expanded-gambling legislation.

"It's very important that we stay active," Bozsum said. "It's a very competitive landscape."

He said Massachusetts would be fortunate to have the tribe build a casino in the Bay State, given its "proven record" in operating Mohegan Sun and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a racetrack casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Mohegan Sun and its competition in Connecticut, Foxwoods Resort Casino, face the prospect of additional competition from New York state - where slot machines are being introduced at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City and where Long Island's Shinnecock Indian Nation plans to pursue casinos - and from Rhode Island, where Twin River, a slots parlor in Lincoln, has pushed for the approval of table games.

Amid shrinking revenues and the need to refinance debt, Mohegan Sun laid off more than 350 employees last month.

Bozsum, who lives in Kingston, R.I., said no further cuts are planned at the casino or in tribal government, which was downsized in early 2009. He also noted that construction of the tribe's $74 million government and community center, halted amid the recession in 2009, has resumed. The project is being financed by federal loans.

Hamilton, the newly elected tribal councilor, emerged in balloting concluded Sunday. He and Mike Bozsum, Bruce Bozsum's brother, were vying for the seat vacated by Malerba, although Mike Bozsum said last week he had to withdraw as a candidate because of illness.

Hamilton, of Old Lyme, has been an editor in the tribe's publications office for nearly 12 years and is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut School of Law, according to the tribe.

The other members of the tribal council are James Gessner Jr., vice chairman; Allison Johnson, recording secretary; Kathy Regan-Pyne, corresponding secretary; Thayne Hutchins Jr., treasurer; Mark Brown, ambassador; William Quidgeon Jr.; and Cheryl Todd.

Brain Hallenbeck, Bozsum to again head Mohegan Tribal Council, The Day, Oct. 19, 2009, at:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Foxwoods September Slot Revenue Closes In On Mohegan Sun But At A Cost

Feather News

Mohegan Sun has traditionally held a comfortable advantage over Foxwoods in the total share of money fed into slot machines in Connecticut but both casinos reported close to the same amount in slot revenues for the month of September.

On Friday, Foxwoods reported that its September slot machine revenue was $56 million while Mohegan Sun reported $57.6 million. A major reason for Foxwoods gain of market share in September was due to a promotion that offered customers the ability to get paid more in cash for the points they earned from gambling at Foxwoods.

Foxwoods also gave away substantially more free slot play to its customers, $7.6 million versus the $4.6 million in free play given away by Mohegan Sun in September.

Both Indian casinos pay the state 25 percent of their slot machine revenue and on a portion of the free slot play promotions when that promotion exceeds a certain monthly minimum amount.

Of course the entertainment lineup at the two facilities also plays a part in attracting customers.

Foxwoods September slot revenue reflected an increase of 2.1 percent over the same month last year while Mohegan Sun's slot revenue declined by about 3 percent compared to September 2009. Mohegan Sun's 6,400 slot machines paid out 92.14 percent of the total amount played on their machines while Foxwoods' 6,900 machines paid out 91.78 percent.

The promotion in September, in which players could were paid $1 in cash for every accumulated players' club point garnered from playing at the casino, reportedly drew a significant crowd to the casino, which helped Foxwoods take a 49 percent of September's total Connecticut slot market "win" compared to Mohegan Sun's 51 percent market share.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mohegan Sun's September Slot Revenue Falls 3%, Foxwoods Slot Revenue Increase 2.1%

Founder Of Mohegan Sun's WineFest Leaves Hartford Magazine

Feather News

Michael J. Guinan, who founded the Mohegan Sun WineFest along with his former company (Marketing Resource Consultants), was let go yesterday from his position of co-publisher of the Hartford Magazine, according to the Hartford Courant.

The Mohegan Sun WineFest is run by a company related to the publisher of the Hartford Magazine, Life Publications, Inc. Guinan founded the Hartford Magazine in 2003 before selling it to Life Publications in 2007.

By Kenneth R. Gosselin, Guinan Fired As Co-Publisher Of Hartford Magazine, The Hartford Courant, Oct. 14, 2010, at:,0,990855.story

Nevada Casino Revenue Increases 11.5% In August; Atlantic City Casino Gaming Revenue Declines 12% In September

Feather News

Casino revenue in Nevada increased by 11.5 percent in August, with casinos on the Las Vegas Strip leading the state with a jump of 21 percent in its August revenues.

Casinos in Atlantic City, the nation's second largest gambling market behind Las Vegas, posted a decrease in September gambling revenue of 12 percent compared to the same month last year.

Atlantic City casino performance continues to suffer from new competition, the latest being the advent of table games in neighboring Pennsylvania and a new casino that opened three weeks ago in nearby Philadelphia, PA.

Nevada's reporting of casino figures lags behind the reporting of Atlantic City casinos by one month.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Credit Rating Of Seneca Tribe's Gaming Arm Cut Due To Uncertainty Over Dispute With State

Feather News

The following installment of The Tribe In The Media is an October 11 article on a credit rating downgrade of Seneca Gaming Corporation, the gaming arm of the Seneca Indian Tribe, due to the uncertainty involved in a dispute between the Tribe and the State of New York.

Moody’s Cuts Seneca Gaming Rating as Tribe Disputes State Fee
Bloomberg News
By Sapna Maheshwari
October 11, 2010

Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Seneca Gaming Corp. and $500 million of its senior unsecured debt as the casino operator disputes New York state’s claim that it owes $214 million in overdue fees for its gambling business.

Moody’s cut the rating to B1 from Ba2 and said in a note today it’s reviewing the possibility of further cuts. The Seneca Nation American Indian tribe, which operates three casinos in western New York through Seneca Gaming, is withholding payments because it says the state violated an exclusivity agreement by introducing slot machines at racetracks and allowing gaming at private businesses.

The casinos are the “sole source of debt repayment” for Seneca Gaming’s $500 million of notes due in 2012, Moody’s said.

New York Governor David Paterson’s counsel Peter Kiernan sent a letter to Seneca President Barry E. Snyder Sr. on Oct. 6 saying the nation’s failure to remit revenue-sharing payments for the past two years constitutes a breach of contract and that the state is entitled to terminate an eight-year-old gaming compact. Kiernan gave the tribe 14 days to resolve the matter.

The disputed payments aren’t in a restricted account or being held by an independent third party so “there is no formal assurance that the Nation will have or make these funds available if it is determined that as part of any settlement, all or a portion of it has to be paid,” Moody’s analysts Zhenyu Zhao and Kendra Smith wrote.

Seneca Gaming exchanged $200 million of freely tradable, registered 7.25 percent senior notes due in 2012 for similar, privately placed securities in 2006, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The notes were initially issued on May 23, 2005, according to a regulatory filing.

Bond Price

The debt traded at 10:22 a.m. at 99.25 cents on the dollar to yield 7.77 percent, according to Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

“In the extreme event that a settlement is not reached and the Compact is terminated, SGC’s ability to operate a class III gaming facility would be in jeopardy,” Moody’s said.

The Seneca Nation occupies three New York reservations, including the City of Salamanca, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Buffalo. More than 7,200 people are members of the tribe, according to its website.

Seneca Gaming operates two hotels in addition to the casinos. It employs almost 4,000 people.

By Sapna Maheshwari (with assistance from Brendan A. McGrail in New York. Editors: Sharon L. Lynch, Mitchell Martin), Bloomberg News, Oct. 11, 2010, at:

Quinnipiac Poll Shows Blumenthal With Double-Digit Lead Over McMahon

Feather News

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) is leading his Republican opponent, Linda McMahon, by 11 points in the race for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Sen. Chris Dodd, according to a Quinnipiac poll conducted between October 7 and October 11.

The poll surveyed about 1,100 likely voters and has a margin of error of about 3 percentage points.

The election will be held on Tuesday, November 2nd.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Columbus Statue In Providence Defaced

Feather News

The Boston Globe reported that red paint was thrown on a Christopher Columbus statue in Providence, R.I., and a sign that read "murderer" was hung around the statue's waist.

The statue was seen in the defaced condition on Monday, which is recognized by many as the Colombus holiday and others as the day of the indigenous resistance.

According to the article, "A representative of the Sons of Italy (told) WPRO-AM that he would like the vandalism to be investigated as a hate crime against Italians."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Mashpee Wampanoag Linguist Is Recipient Of $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Prize

Feather Newsw

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal member Jessie Little Doe Baird was one of 23 recipients to receive $500,000 from the MacArthur Foundation, awarded for her dedication toward reviving the Wampanoag language.

Recipients can do what they want with the money but Little Doe said she has a number of possible uses in mind, including donating some to the Mashpee's language department, creating software to teach the language and starting a language school devoted to the Mashpee language.

Little Doe, the program director of the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project, said that her 6-year-old daughter is the only child since the 1800's raised to speak the language since birth.

The language reclamation project is a collaborative effort that includes the Assonet, Mashpee, Aquinnah, and Herring Pond Wampanoag communities. Little Doe is also one of the principle authors of a 10,000-word Wampanoag-English dictionary.

Little Doe said, “The opportunity to hear what my fifth great-grandfather had to say, even though he’s gone, because he wrote it down, really is a powerful motivation."

See article by Laura Collins-Hughes "‘Genius grant’ a boost to linguist as she revives a native language," The Boston Globe, (Sept. 27, 20101),

Friday, September 24, 2010

Union Takes Issue With Mashantucket Pequot's Tribal Member Hiring Preference

Feather News

The incompatibility of federal labor oversight at the Mashantucket Pequot's Foxwoods Casino might become apparent if the Tribe's federally-authorized Indian hiring preferences are questioned by the National Labor Relations Board.

The federal labor board held a hearing yesterday after the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe claimed that Local 371 of the United Food and Commercial Workers union disrupted a July union vote by Foxwoods beverage servers by "making inflammatory appeals to voters' racial and ethnic prejudice," according to an article in The Day newspaper.

Beverage servers, porters, lounge hosts and bartenders voted 190-145 to join the union. The Tribe asserts that the election was not a fair election.

Public reports of the Tribe's plans to halt stipend payments caused one Foxwoods employee to worry whether the Tribe's hiring preferences would mean that more tribal members will be hired at Foxwoods. That's the short version.

The union requested four years' worth of information on the amounts paid to Mashantucket tribal members but when labor board Judge Raymond Green said it was enough for him just to know that halting the payments could mean more members would apply for jobs at Foxwoods, the union withdrew the request.

"The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal and Native American Preference Law states that the tribe must provide preference first to tribal members, then to spouses of tribal members and then to other Native Americans," the article states.

The Tribe's attorney, Elizabeth Conway, said the federal labor board's exercise of jurisdiction on labor issues intrudes on the Tribe's sovereignty.

See article by Brian Hallenbeck, Foxwoods promotion preferences at issue, The Day, (Sept. 24, 2010),

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mohegan Debt Placed On Review By Credit Agency

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has been place under review by Moody's Investors Service for a possible credit downgrade "due to its inability to reduce its debt."

Yesterday's announcement by Moody's came on the same day that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board reported the first full month of table game revenues for casinos in that state.

The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs' table games revenue for the month of August was about $3.5 million before taking out Pennsylvania state taxes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Editorial: New England Gaming Summit At Mohegan Sun Begins Today, I Think

Feather News

The New England Gaming Summit kicks off today at Mohegan Sun even though keynote addresses will be given tomorrow by Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Council chairman Rodney Butler and Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority CEO Mitchell Etess.

What is the purpose of the summit?

How did Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods end up in their current situation given their casino monopoly in Connecticut? Did the two Indian casinos overextend themselves? Those topics are not likely to be on the agenda.

It will be interesting to see if anything new comes out of the gaming summit that we don't already know. That's unlikely in my view.

Maybe the gaming commission could spice up the event and raid the summit, you know ... like that famous Appalachian summit of mob bosses in the 1950's, and we can hear about gaming executives fleeing the scene, running into slot machines, hiding underneath craps tables, eluding process servers, problem gambling specialists grabbing handfuls of chips as they sprint past tables.

But instead, there will just be a lot of talk about more casinos in the near future and how the economic recovery is anything but that.

Speeches will probably cover the likelihood that Massachusetts will approve casinos this year or next year. That a new slot parlor will be in New York's Aqueduct Racetrack next year. That some states are holding gaming referenda. That Philadelphia's first casino will be opening this week. Oh, that's right, Philadelphia ain't New England. Neither is New York but they affect New England. Does that count? What happens if someone talks about states that aren't in New England? Maybe that could be the reason for a gaming commission raid on the event.

Speaking of Pennsylvania and mob bosses, did you know that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board does not ban mob members from the state's casinos? That's not really relevant to the gaming summit but I haven't been able to fit that into an article by itself. Yet. Just sayin'.

People will speak about problem gambling and other impacts of gambling on the community so maybe some real strides can be made on those topics.

The New England Gaming Summit is run by BNP Media and Spectrum Gaming Group and is the first New England Gaming Summit. Spectrum is from Joisey.

Note: This editorial is intended to be humorous. The Feather News in no way is inciting raids, comparing gaming executives and tribal officials to mob bosses, or encouraging problem gambling specialists to steal chips. We are not even positive if a gaming summit is taking place today so any actual event holding itself out as a New England Gaming Summit, run by BNP, with two keynote addresses scheduled for tomorrow is strictly coincidental.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Seattle Storm Win WNBA Championship

Feather News

The Seattle Storm swept Atlanta in three games to win the WNBA Champpionship on Thursday.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Mohegan Sun Reports A 2.8% Decline In August Slot Revenue, Foxwoods Slot Revenue Falls By 6.3%

Feather News

Connecticut's two Indian casinos reported declines in their slot machine revenue for the month of August compared to the same month last year.

Mohegan Sun reported $67 million in August slot revenue, a decrease of 2.8 percent compared to August 2009, while Foxwoods reported $59.2 milion, a decrease of 6.3 percent.

The amount of free slot play, given by both casinos to customers as an incentive to visit their properties, is not yet available for August.

Both casinos pay the State of Connecticut 25 percent of their slot revenues in exchange for their casino monopoly in Connecticut.

The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs reported a 0.7% decline in slot machine revenue in August when compared to August 2009. Table game figures for Pocono Downs for the month of August, the first full month of table games in Pennsylvania, has not yet been reported.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission today that post-employment severance charges as a result of eliminating 475 employee positions, a move that was announced yesterday, is estimated at $8 million to $10 milion and will largely affect the fourth quarter that ends on September 30, 2010.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Feather News

The Day newspaper's Brian Hallenbeck is reporting this afternoon that the Mohegan Sun will pare its workforce by 475 positions, close the Sunburst Buffet, "a snack bar in its race book and two food-court outlets that will reopen under third-party management."

The news comes two weeks before the end of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's fiscal year and hours before tomorrow's release of August slot revenue figures. The end of the gaming authority's fiscal year is likely one reason for the timing of the announcement.

Last quarter the gaming authority reported an approximately 50 percent decline in its three-month profits so if the quarter that ends in two weeks isn't projected to show much improvement, the bankers and analysts will absolutely want to see proactive moves taken by casino management to address the sliding profits.

Yesterday's final approval on what will become New York City's first mega-slot parlor, to be located at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y., is not good news for Mohegan Sun.

Mitchell Etess, Mohegan Sun’s president and chief executive officer, said that 120 employees whose jobs were being cut would be transferred to other positions. Out of the 475 positions to be eliminated, 200 are in the food and beverage department and 75 positions are at the level of manager or above.

"The food outlets closing include the Sunburst Buffet, Chief’s Bagels, Subs and Sweets and Woodland Wok," according to the article.

The 475 positions represent about 5 percent of Mohegan Sun's 9,000 employees.

New York City's First Slot Parlor Gets Final Approval

Feather News

New York State comptroller Thomas DiNapoli signed off yesterday on the 30-year franchise contract to operate what is destined to become a 4,500-VLT slot parlor at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y.

Genting New York, LLC, was chosen during the summer to build and operate the slot parlor after three previous rounds of bidding were voided. The state initially approved slot machines at state racetracks in 2001 and the Aqueduct Racetrack will be the last of those racetracks to open a slot parlor. The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority partnered with Australian racing executives to form a group that was previously rejected in one of the rounds of bidding for the franchise.

Aqueduct Racetrack is about 130 miles from Mohegan Sun and is likely to become the casino's next competitor for slot customers.

Public statements made by Genting indicate that they expect to open the first phase of the slot parlor with 1,700 video lottery terminal machines by next May, possibly earlier. All that remains to seal the deal is for Genting to pay the state its upfront fee of $380 million.

Genting is a subsidiary of the Malaysian company that financed the building of Foxwoods casino.

Atlantic City Casino Revenue Falls By About 11% In August Amid Pennsylvania's Table Games Debut

Feather News

The first full month of table games at Pennsylvania's casinos certainly affected the casinos in the neighboring state of New Jersey.

The 11 casinos in Atlantic City, N.J., reported a decline of 11.3 percent in August revenues when compared to the same month last year. The 11 casinos reported $347.5 million in August. Slot revenue was $245.1 million, a decline of 11.3 percent from the same period last year while table game revenue was $102.4 million, a decrease of 11.4 percent.

Pennsylvania's state gaming board has yet to release table game revenues for the month of August.

Slot revenues for the month of August have, however, been released. Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs' slot revenues for August decreased by 0.7 percent compared to August 2009. Pocono Downs' two closest competitors reported mixed results: Sands Bethlehem Casino reported an increase of 11 percent in August slot revenue while Mount Airy Casino reported a decrease of 4.8 percent.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Photo: World Trade Center On September 11, 2001

Photo by Ken Davison of lower Manhattan taken from Liberty State Park on the morning of 911.
Copywrite. All rights reserved. This image may not be published, broadcast or redistributed.

Mickey Brown Resigns As Empire Resorts Chairman

Feather News

Michael "Mickey" Brown resigned from his position of chairman of Empire Resorts due to health concerns, according to New York's Times Standard newspaper.

Brown previously ran Foxwoods when it first opened in 1992 until 1997 and was appointed as chairman of Empire Resorts' board of directors last year when Kien Huat Realty III acquired a controlling interest in the company. Brown worked in law enforcement in New Jersy prior to working for the Connecticut Indian casino.

Brown was also identified as a key person in Genting New York, LLC, the company that is planning to build and run the slot parlor at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y. Genting won the bid and is expecting the state controller to sign off on the contract this week, representing the last layer of approval requrired to seal the contract for the Aqueduct gaming franchise.

Brown reportedly underwent a triple by-pass operation last month. We wish him a speedy recovery.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

WNBA's Championship Series To Begin Today

Feather News
Updated with footnote

Atlanta will face Seattle today at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in the first game of the WNBA basketball championship series. The game will be televised on ABC.

The next game of the best-of-five series will be on Tuesday night at 9 p.m. EST and will be aired on ESPN2.

The Connecticut Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, did not make the playoffs this year.

Note: Seattle won the first game on Sunday by a score of 79-77.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Former Mohegan Tribal Councilor Roberta Harris-Payne Passes On

Feather News

Roberta Harris-Payne, 60, passed away on Saturday, September 4. Roberta previously served as the corresponding secretary on the tribal councilor and as a development coordinator for the Tribe. She will be missed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mohegan's Don Chapman Is Lead Story In "Indian Country Today" Edition

Feather News

I clicked on Indian Country Today, well, today, and saw that the lead story was on Don Chapman, a member of the Mohegan Tribe and the senior advisor on Native American affairs to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Today's installment of the Tribe In The Media is this story:

My business is your business
Conference spotlights ins and outs of Indian entrepreneurship
By Rob Capriccioso
September 8, 2010

WASHINGTON – If the MEDweek minority business conference had a slogan, it might well be “my business is your business” – for the Indian and non-Indian participants.

The conference, hosted by an office of the Department of Commerce the week of Aug. 23, is an annual event catering to minority business owners nationwide. The goal has long been to gather them to support their needs, help them network, and hopefully to strengthen their economic endeavors. Since the federal government often funds a substantial chunk of minority projects, it’s seen as a wise investment.

Throughout the American business and government sectors, there’s long been plenty of lip service paid to getting Indian-owned businesses in on the minority business action, but this year’s gathering, held in downtown Washington at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, went beyond the words.

Attendees said the event offered meaningful engagement with Indian businesses and showcased unique opportunities for interaction with them.

Native speakers and information was presented throughout the five-day conference, and an entire track with unique discussions and panels was devoted to Indian topics, like special bonding issues and unique challenges to partnering with reservation-based projects.

One of the key organizers of the Indian-themed components was Don Chapman, the Mohegan senior advisor on Native American affairs for Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. In that capacity, he is responsible for leading the Office of Native American Affairs and for coordinating tribal consultation policy and Native American economic development issues. The position, which he entered last fall, is new in the agency.

Chapman said this year’s Minority Business Development Agency conference featured the greatest Indian country participation in the history of the event.

“One of my first initiatives after arriving here at Commerce back in October 2009 was to more closely integrate MBDA with NCAIED (the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development) and establish a closer collaboration between the two entities on behalf of tribally-owned and individually-owned Native American businesses. The two have parallel missions, goals and objectives.”

Increased Native inclusion is important, Chapman said, because a great deal of non-Native businesses do not understand the unique federal contracting status of Native-owned companies and many times are unaware of the level of sophistication and bandwidth that Native firms have today.

“MEDWeek 2010 really provided significant insight to many minority-owned businesses to not only get a better understanding of Native business capabilities, but to also meet and strategize potential areas of business, collaboration, and potential mutual customers together,” Chapman said.

Continuing the good will between Commerce and the National Center, Margo Gray-Proctor, chairwoman of the organization’s board of directors, said a $100 discount would be offered to business leaders who attended MEDWeek and go on to attend the 2011 Reservation Economic Summit. The annual gathering features a large audience of Indian business networkers.

“We need incentives for us all to get together. When we help each other, we help us all,” Gray-Proctor said, calling her offer “the chairwoman’s special.”

The goal for the next RES is to expand the number of attendees from 2,700 this year to 5,000 in 2011, said Eric Trevan, NCAIED president and CEO.

Kent Paul, CEO of the AMERIND risk management organization, gave a real world example of a new program being planned to strengthen minority relations. He said his organization is “on the cusp” of launching an alternative bonding program that can better meet some of the needs of minority businesspeople who want to work with Indian country. He estimated that the new program would launch within the next nine months.

Others spent a great deal of time discussing ways for companies to leverage their contracting opportunities with tribes and Indian businesses.

One point many Indian attendees hammered home was that there are many partnership opportunities to be made with tribes, but cultural respect is crucial for success.

“You might not have to worry about so many cultural issues when doing business with other entities,” said Gray-Proctor, during one of the event’s sessions. “But each tribe has its own unique sovereign nation structure that will help determine how you should interact.”

She offered an example of a time she was in a meeting with a matriarchal tribe where presenters were only addressing a male tribal staffer. The female leaders ended up doing business
with someone else.

“They didn’t know their culture, so it cost them.”

Heather Dawn Thompson, a partner with the Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal law firm and a panelist at the event, explained the situation another way: “Imagine you are traveling to a foreign country when working with Indian country, and your relationships will go more smoothly. … It’s a very different community to break into.”

She noted that Indian country in general tends to be mistrustful of working with outsiders given the many times tribes and Native individuals have been abused.

Trevan said he didn’t want any non-Indian businesspeople to leave the conference with the idea that Indian country is closed to relationship-building, it’s just in a unique situation, given that tribes are governments, so special rules exist in many cases.

“Indian country is definitely open for business. Now let’s make it happen.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Massachusetts Governor Asks Legislators To Return And Approve Gambling Bill

Feather News

This installment of the Tribes In The Media is a Boston Herald Article from today on Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick urging state legislators to go into a special session and approve a gambling bill.

Gov. Deval Patrick prods lawmakers to rethink casino stance
By Richard Weir
The Boston Herald
September 7, 2010

Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday urged state lawmakers to return to session and resuscitate a near dead-and-buried casino bill in an effort to spur job creation.

“We’ve been there for the people who want and need the jobs that can come from resort casinos. The Legislature should come back and finish this right now and let’s get it done,” Patrick told several hundred state political and union leaders gathered at the Park Plaza for the Greater Boston Labor Council’s annual Labor Day breakfast.

But the odds that state pols will return to Beacon Hill to end the stalemate that killed the bill are slim at best. In July, they approved three resort casinos and slots at two racetracks. Patrick stripped the so-called racinos from the measure and tossed it back to the Legislature, whose members packed their bags before resolving whether to override or approve the governor’s changes to the bill.

Senate President Therese Murray has said that two-thirds of the Senate will not support coming in to take up Patrick’s nixing of slot machines at racetracks.

“Nothing’s changed,” said Murray spokesman Dave Falcone. “We don’t have the votes to come back into session.”

Seth Gitell, spokesman for House Speaker Robert DeLeo, said that while the “speaker has not taken it off the table,” the issue remains moot.

“It requires two-thirds of both chambers to come back into session. The speaker has indicated that the Senate is not coming back,” he said.

By revising the Legislature’s casino bill instead of approving it, Patrick risked alienating organized labor groups who counted on the gambling bill to put its members back to work.

Patrick yesterday tried to rebuild ties to the labor groups, saying, “I have been there for you,” but he had a caveat: “I know we don’t agree on everything. And some of you are so mad about these disagreements that you will support someone else or sit the race out. But we have shown you that I do not, and will not, take you for granted. And I think you had better be careful not to take me for granted either.”

Foxwoods-Sponsored New York Liberty Advance To WNBA Conference Finals

Feather News

The Foxwoods-sponsored New York Liberty basketball team advanced to the Eastern Conference finals and faces Atlanta in a best-of-seven series, the winner of which will go on to the WNBA championship series against the winner of the Western Conference finals.

New York will play its second game against Atlanta tonight. Atlanta won the first game in the series by a score of 81-75.

In the Western Conference finals, Seattle won its first two games against Phoenix.

The Connecticut Sun (15-15), owned by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, did not make the playoffs.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hurricane Earl Expected To Stay Out To Sea As It Passes By New England Tonight; Many Local Schools Plan To Close Early Today

Feather News

Hurricane Earl was well off the coast of the Carolinas this morning and losing its strength as it travels in a north-northeasterly path off the East Coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

Many local schools in Southeastern Connecticut will be closing early today while the the hurricane is predicted to remain out at sea due east of Connecticut sometime tonight. As of early this morning, the hurricane has weakened to a Category 2 and should weaken further to a category 1.

Massachusetts and Rhode Island announced a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm's passing.

Connecticut will likely get some rain and high winds. In Massachusetts, the effect of the huricane on the outer Cape, jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, and the island of Nantucket could be much worse.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks Cigarette Tax Collection For Two Tribes In N.Y.

Feather News

This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an article by The Post Standard reporting on New York state's implementation of a cigarette tax collection policy, which takes place today.

Federal judge blocks implementation of cigarette tax for two western NY tribes
By Glenn Coin
September 1, 2010
The Post Standard

Syracuse, NY - The state will move ahead Wednesday to collect taxes on cigarettes sold by most Indian tribes, including some in Central New York.

A federal judge in Buffalo on Tuesday halted enforcement on cigarettes sold by the Cayuga and Seneca tribes, but tax officials said that ruling does not apply to the state’s seven other tribes. “The ruling specifically mentions only the Seneca and Cayuga,” said Brad Maione, spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance. “The enforcement plan moves forward.”

As of today, wholesalers who sell cigarettes to Indian retailers must pay the $4.35-per-pack tax upfront and then collect it from the tribes.

The Oneidas and the Onondagas have said they won’t pay the taxes and, instead, would stop selling name-brand cigarettes in favor of Indian-made brands. The Seneca brand, made by Seneca Indians, is already the biggest seller at the Onondaga Nation smoke shop, said Tadodaho Sid Hill. Senecas sell for $30 a carton at the Onondaga smoke shop, compared with $59 for a carton of Marlboros.

Smokers might not notice the lack of name brands immediately, because tribes can still sell tax-free whatever inventory they have on hand. When they place new orders with wholesalers, however, the wholesalers must pay the tax and affix state stamps to each pack.

Under federal law, Indians can buy cigarettes tax-free on reservations, but states can require non-Indians to pay the tax. The tribes argued that the regulations that provided for tax-free cigarettes for tribal members were cumbersome and would impose excessive burdens, turning them into tax-collectors for the state.

The Cayugas argued in court that the regulations would crush the tribe’s cigarette business, its only source of revenue, and “make it impossible for the nation to provide vital tribal services.”

U.S. District Court Richard Arcara agreed Tuesday afternoon to delay enforcement of the law for the Seneca and Cayuga tribes for up to two weeks and possibly longer. Arcara will meet with lawyers next week to schedule a hearing on whether to issue a longer injunction.

The court ruling was a victory for the two Indian nations, which had filed suit last month. “Judge Arcara’s ruling sets the stage for an orderly and thoughtful legal review of what we believe is an illegal, ill-conceived attempt by New York state to use (tribes) as piggy banks to balance the state budget,” said J.C. Seneca, a Seneca Nation of Indians tribal councilor, in a prepared statement.

The state’s convenience store owners, however, saw the ruling as another blow to their cigarette sales, already down following the July 1 tax hike that made New York’s cigarette taxes the highest in the nation.

“We’ve lost 25 to 45 percent of our sales, and our customer counts are way down,” said Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores. “We were expecting some relief and those customers returning from the reservations tomorrow, and now that’s not going to happen.”

State officials had estimated the tax would bring in $150 million this year, although other groups had estimated as much as $1 billion would be collected. Indian nation stores sold about 24 million cartons of cigarettes –— 240 million packs — in 2009, according to state records. The Seneca sold about half those cigarettes.

Tuesday’s two-page ruling capped a flurry of activity as the collection deadline drew near:

Monday afternoon, a state Supreme Court judge in Erie County lifted an injunction issued last year that had prevented the state from enforcing the taxes. Monday night, the Seneca nation voted to withhold a casino payment to New York, claiming the state has violated terms of a 2001 gambling agreement. The tribe has paid more than $700 million in slot-machine fees to the state. Tuesday afternoon, even as the federal court hearing was under way, the state tax department issued a memo saying collection would start today.

A lawyer for the Onondaga Nation, Joe Heath, said tribes had been meeting with state officials to try to work out an agreement but had gotten nowhere. “It will take a lot more work and a lot more time,” Heath said.

The Oneida Indian Nation announced last week it would move its cigarette manufacturing plant from Western New York to Oneida to put its own brands out of reach of state tax collectors.