Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Massachusetts House Speaker To Reveal Gambling Plan Tomorrow

Feather News

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo will hold a press conference tomorrow to outline his plan for gambling in Massachusetts. The following installment of The Tribes In The Media is an article in The Republican.

Plan for adding slot machines to racetracks criticized by casino backers
By Dan Ring and Lori Stabile
The Republican
March 31, 2010

BOSTON - Some local pro-gambling state legislators are criticizing the House speaker's proposed casino bill, saying the plan is flawed because it gives slot machines to the state's racetracks without specifying a casino resort for Western Massachusetts.

While some legislators criticized the proposal, a word of caution came from a top executive of Connecticut-based Mohegan Sun Authority, which wants to build a casino in Palmer. Because of the economy, the project might be scaled back, and a more realistic licensing fee may be $50 to $75 million, a sharp drop from the pre-recession $200 million that Gov. Deval L. Patrick said the state would receive from each casino.

House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo announced that he plans to unveil his casino bill during a press conference on Thursday morning at the Statehouse, along with Rep. Brian S. Dempsey, D-Haverhill, co-chairman of a legislative committee that oversees gambling bills.

During a speech in Boston earlier this month, DeLeo said he will propose a bill that would give a limited number of slot machines to each of the state's four horse and dog tracks and would establish two casino resorts. DeLeo has indicated he would call for a commission or "third party" to site casinos and that operators would bid for licenses.

“Slots at race tracks are machines that get rolled into a dying business and people throw quarters in them ... it doesn't bring anything.”- Rep. Todd M. Smola, R-PalmerDeLeo on Tuesday was optimistic about the chances for his proposed casino bill.

"I think most importantly it's the biggest jobs bill we've had here in a while," DeLeo said. "I feel very confident it will pass." He said debate on the bill may take place the week of April 12.

Unless the bill is revised, DeLeo might have trouble winning the votes of some local legislators.

Rep. Todd M. Smola, R-Palmer, said it will be very difficult for him to vote for a bill that calls for slot machines for racetracks, saying so-called racinos offer very little other than slot machines.

"Slots at race tracks are machines that get rolled into a dying business and people throw quarters in them," Smola said. "It doesn't bring anything."

Patrick has also said he is opposed to the racetrack slots. Patrick said he prefers building casino resorts, but has stopped short of saying he would veto a bill that includes slots at the tracks.

Rep. Sean F. Curran, D-Springfield, said he would vote for the bill on one condition - that it designate the four counties of Western Massachusetts as a region to receive a casino resort.

Curran said it is a contradiction to single out the four racetracks for slot machines and then fail to specify regions for casinos.

Rain Stopped And Sun Begins To Shine

Feather News

The rain stopped.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tribal Offices Closed Due To Regional Flooding, Norwich Declares State Of Emergency

Feather News

The Mohegan Tribal offices closed at noon today due to regional flooding which, in part, caused the city of Norwich to declare a state of emergency and resulted in the governor putting the National Guard on alert.

Numerous roads across the state were closed due to the flooding caused by the rain that began Sunday night and has continued since then. Forecasts predict the rain may stop tomorrow afternoon.

Roads in Norwich reported to be closed earlier today:
West Town Street at Case Street, Wawecus Street, New London Turnpike at the Norwich Town Mall, New London Turnpike at the Norwich/Montville Town Line, Mohegan Park Road at Spaulding Pond and North Main Street at Boswell Ave.

Roads in Montville reported to be closed earlier today:
Colchester Road between Chesterfield Road and Fellows Road is closed. New London Turnpike between Fitch Hill Road and Old Fitch Hill Road in closed. Route 163 in Montville is closed in both directions at Route 32.

The Yantic River in Norwich, where the famed Uncas' Leap is located, is expected to reach record levels before the rain is done.

Some Stonington residents were ordered to evacuate their homes this morning and emergency shelters were opened there and in Griswold. A shelter was opened yesterday in Norwich. That shelter is located at the Rose City Senior Center on Mahan Drive.

Many school districts were either closed today or let students go home early.

No reports yet of arks being built.

Note: The Yantic River was later reported to have reached a level 13.23 feet. Brian Hallenbeck and Kathleen Edgecomb, reporters for The Day newspaper, noted that this level for the Yantic River was "third place all time behind the 14.66-foot level during the hurricane of 1938 and the 14.88 feet it reached in 1982."

Monday, March 29, 2010

New Hampshire Considers Casinos

Feather News

This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a New York Times article on the possible expansion of gambling in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Budget Gap Fuels Fight Over Gambling
By Katharine Q. Seelye
New York Times
March 27, 2010

Like several other states, New Hampshire has been wrestling with ways to address its budget deficit and has been considering new forms of gambling to help fill its treasury and add jobs.

But on Thursday, Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, who had been keeping his cards close to the vest, dealt the effort a blow by saying he opposed a bill passed by the State Senate to expand gambling. Asked if he would veto it, he told reporters in Portsmouth, “I will do what it takes to have it not become law.”

At least 18 states are considering expanding gambling because of a drop of 5 percent to 14 percent in revenue they collect from lotteries, horse racing and casinos, according to The Lottery Post, an industry newsletter.

New York is putting 4,500 video lottery terminals at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, Gov. M. Jodi Rell in Connecticut wants to offer keno in restaurants, and Massachusetts is considering a proposal for resort casinos and slot machines at racetracks.

Gambling proponents have long sought to make further inroads in New Hampshire, the first state to introduce the lottery. They thought they might succeed this year because of the state’s budget gap and its historic aversion to an income tax.

State Senator Lou D’Allesandro, a Democrat who sponsored the bill that passed last week, said it would create thousands of jobs and bring in millions of dollars in revenue, and he blamed New England Puritanism for some of the opposition.

The Senate, which has approved gambling bills before, passed his bill on a 14-to-10 vote, allowing for video slot machines and table games at six sites. The House, scheduled to vote on the bill next month, has routinely rejected such measures. But this year the vote is expected to be closer.

Opponents say gambling is not a reliable source of revenue and would change the character of the state.

While gambling opponents said they were grateful for Mr. Lynch’s comments, they were not convinced that he would veto a bill if it passed both houses because he has also vowed not to raise taxes.

“It’s a stronger statement than he’s made to date,” said Jim Rubens, chairman of the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling. “But if the House passed it and made it part of the budget, he may have a different calculus.”

Mr. Lynch said the Senate should not have acted before a commission that he appointed last year to examine the matter had issued its report, due within a couple of months. Moreover, he said, once gambling is allowed, it is hard to get rid of.

“Once it’s here,” he said, “it’s here forever.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Seminole Tribe And Lawmakers Continue Negotiations

Feather News

This installment of The Tribes In The Media is a Miami Herald article discussing the current state of negotiations betweeen the Seminole Tribe and lawmakers on gambling in Florida.

Seminole Tribe gaming compact a step closer
Legislators agreed to a `conceptual' agreement on Seminole gambling, but the biggest issue is still unresolved.
By Mary Ellen Klas
Miami Herald

TALLAHASSEE - Legislators are closer than ever to resolving their differences over a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe and injecting $450 million into the state budget, the lead House negotiator said Wednesday.

But one big issue still divides them: how far to expand gambling outside of South Florida.

``We've been through regulation; we've been through timing; we've been through finance -- all that stuff,'' said Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who has led the yearlong effort to negotiate an agreement with the tribe and legislative leaders.

Now, he said, negotiators await word on whether the tribe will agree to the House's proposal to allow the 19 horse tracks, dog tracks and jai alai frontons outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties to install gambling machines.

If legislators allow the tracks and frontons outside of South Florida to install electronic machines that qualify as Class II slot machines, it's a deal breaker, the tribe's negotiators say.

But if the agreement doesn't include some expansion of the state's existing gambling industry, the Senate won't buy in.

Although the plan is still ``conceptual,'' Galvano said the tribe has agreed to something of a compromise: a provision that would allow parimutuels to have a type of electronic machine based on video bingo technology and featuring historic horse races. The games look much like slot machines but aren't as lucrative and produce smaller jackpots.

Senate leaders are continuing to push for a special exemption for Palm Beach County that would allow for the Palm Beach Kennel Club -- if voters approve -- to operate slot machines. The lawmakers want the tribe to accept the Palm Beach exemption without jeopardizing annual payments that the tribe would make to the state under the gambling agreement.

Under the agreement reached so far -- which was laid out the first week of the legislative session -- the tribe would pay the state about $150 million a year for five years in exchange for the exclusive operation of Las Vegas-style slot machines at its seven casinos, Galvano said. The tribe would also have the exclusive right to run table games at four casinos in Broward, Hillsborough and Collier counties for five years.

If the Legislature allows horse tracks and other parimutuels to operate blackjack and table games, the tribe's payments to the state would be reduced but continue for slot machines only, for the next 20 years. Even those payments would end if the state approved casino-style video lottery terminals or other casino games outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, creating new competition.

During the negotiations, the tribe initially agreed to 300 video bingo and historic race machines at each of the state's horse and dog track and jai alai frontons north of Broward, as long as they games don't operate like slot machines, Galvano said.

The House has countered with 500 to 1,000 machines per parimutuel, depending on the kind of machine, and is now awaiting word on that offer, he said.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed its gaming bill on a 6-1 vote.

The bill would nullify both the August 2009 compact and the September 2007 compacts with the Seminole Tribe. It would also reduce the tax rate for parimutuel slot machines from 50 percent to 35 percent, lower their annual license fee, give parimutuels no-limit poker, allow racing at Hialeah race track and extend the hours for card rooms from 12 hours to 18 hours a day Monday through Friday and 24 hours a day on weekends.

``We have most of the issues resolved right now between the House, the Senate and the Indians,'' said Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, chairman of the Senate committee. He predicted an agreement in two weeks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

NAGPRA Discussion This Friday At Wesleyan University

Feather News

This Friday a panel of experts will gather at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT., to discuss the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which is the federal law that allows - in some instances - Indian tribes to reclaim certain human remains and sacred objects.

According to an announcement, the purpose of the conference is "to raise awareness of critical issues regarding NAGPRA compliance in the context of both Wesleyan as an institution of higher learning that is subject to the federal law, and the particular challenges of repatriation in the southern New England region."

The discussion, entitled "Reconsidering Repatriation: Colonial Legacies, Indigenous Politics and Institutional Developments," will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. this Friday, March 26.

The panel includes Trudie Lamb Richmond (director of public programs at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center), Abigail Clouse (author of a book-in-progress called "Salvaging Anthropology: Repatriation and the Legacy of Nineteenth-Century Collecting."), Marge Bruchac (Assistant Professor of American Studies, University of Connecticut at Avery Point) and Kevin McBride (director of research for the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, who has developed field study programs on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation, and directs in all ongoing
archaeological excavations and ethnohistorical research for the Tribe).

This event, organized by Abby Clouse, is free and open to the public. Russell House, where the event will be held, is located on the Wesleyan University campus at the corner of Washington St/RTE 66 and High Street. It is suggested to park on High Street, Court Street or College Avenue.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Reminder: Rhode Island Indian Council Intertribal Social This Friday

Feather News

The Rhode Island Indian Council is holding their Spring intertribal social and potluck dinner this Friday in the Grand Ballroom at 807 Broad St., Providence, R.I., from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. Don't forget to bring a dish.

Mohegan Presentation At Norwich Historical Society

Feather News

The following installment of The Tribe In The Media series is a Norwich Bulletin article on last night's presentation by Mohegans at the Norwich Historical Society.

Mohegans’ ties to Norwich celebrated
History of tribe, city intertwined for centuries
By Deborah Straszheim
Norwich Bulletin
Posted Mar 22, 2010

Norwich, Conn. — Eric Maynard wore his traditional Native American clothing Monday evening, and explained it to an audience gathered at Slater Auditorium.

It’s made of buckskin and it’s good for cool, damp weather, he said. The fringe on the leggings swishes the water away. His mother made the headdress with a strip of hide down the center, porcupine hairs — not quills — and turkey feathers on top.

“It’s a tradition that’s being passed down to me,” he said.

Maynard and Sandi Pineault, manager of the Mohegan Tribe Cultural & Community Programs, spoke about the tribe’s history to an audience of about 25 people at the annual meeting of the Norwich Historical Society.

“We thrive on diversity,” said Faith Davison, historical society board member. “And we’re celebrating, because Norwich is not just one class, race or religion.”

The Mohegan Indian Tribe has a 300-year-old relationship with the city, owns Mohegan Sun in Uncasville and employs many Norwich residents. This summer, Tribal Chairwoman Lynn Malerba, of Montville, will be installed as the tribe’s first female chief in nearly three centuries.

Audience members said they learned a few things Monday they didn’t know before.

“I wasn’t aware that women were involved so much,” said Marjorie Morris, of Groton. “They were in charge of land, was that it?”

Native Americans didn’t mark land with fences, but if there was such a thing as land ownership, women owned it, Pineault said. Women were caretakers of the land, as they gardened while men hunted.

Troy Shoemaker, a historical society board member, said he learned that much of the original tribal language was lost.

Tribal languages were outlawed in the 1800s, because people were fearful of what was being said, Pineault explained. The last fluent speaker of the Mohegan language didn’t teach it because she didn’t want to cause trouble for the children who learned it, Pineault said.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Protest Set For Saturday Over King Philip War Game

Feather News

A protest will be held in Providence, R.I., on Saturday in an attempt to stop the production of a board game that allows players to pit the Indians under Metacomet, a.k.a. King Philip, against colonial soldiers to create different scenarios of the famous battle that took place in the late 1600's.

According to Brown Squirrel, the peaceful protest is from noon to 2 p.m. at the intersection of South Main and Old Crawford, near Hemmingway's Restaurant in Providence.

The game at the center of the controversy was described in the following Providence Journal article earlier this week:

Game based on King Philip’s War angers Native Americans
By Paul Davis
Providence Journal
March 15, 2010

A new board game that pits 17th-century Colonists against New England’s Indian tribes is sparking a 21st-century skirmish between the publisher and Native American leaders.

The game, called King Philip’s War, allows players to defeat Colonial or Indian forces in “a momentous example of New England frontier savagery,” says Multi-Man Publishing, a military game company in Millersville, Md.

The game features a New England map, dice, tokens and historic figures from the 14-month-long conflict, including King Philip or Metacomet, sachem of the Wampanoag Indian tribe, and Indian fighter and Little Compton resident Benjamin Church.

Publisher Brian Youse says the game mixes military strategy with history — and tells a story that many people outside of New England don’t know.

But tribal historians say it is in poor taste and perpetuates stereotypes of Native Americans as savages.

“It clearly demonstrates how — sadly — racism and misconceptions continue to exist in America, even in the 21st century,” says Rae Gould, tribal historic preservation officer for the Nipmuc Nation.

“I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or be angry,” adds John Brown, historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Indian tribe. “The message seems to be, it’s still OK to kill Indians.”

Colonial players win by gathering points or eliminating King Philip and other Indian leaders. Indian players win by accumulating points or seizing the settlements of Boston and Plymouth.

Game designer John Poniske, who teaches social studies at a Maryland middle school, created the game after reading an article about King Philip in the magazine Military History.

“I immediately saw the gaming potential in the historical situation,” says Poniske, who has designed games based on the Vietnam War, the Civil War and the teachings of Jesus.

“The New England tribes were a military force to reckon with, and this conflict destroyed their power base,” he says.

“It slowed and, in some cases, stopped Colonial expansion, and more importantly, it set a strong precedent for future relations with Native Americans.”

But Paula Peters, a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, says the game “seems to trivialize a very tragic event in our history.”

As a boy, King Philip grew up in a world where he was free to practice his beliefs in his ancestral land, says Peters, marketing director for Plimoth Plantation.

But as an adult “he and his people were pushed out.”

During an earlier conflict in Mystic, Native women and children were burned in their beds, she says. “It was no game.”

But Poniske argues that his game shows that “Indians were fighting for the survival of their culture. I indicate that atrocities were committed on both sides, and I have brought to light something that seems to have been swept under the rug, what I consider to be the horror of the war’s outcome — the hunting down of Indians to be shipped to the Caribbean as slaves.”

The 11-year-old company publishes a number of military games, including Beyond Valor, Storm over Normandy and Panzerblitz Hill of Death.

The three principals include former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who also designs games.

The owners hope to garner enough preorders –– 560 at $30 an order –– to publish the game later this year.

In 1675, Indians attacked the town of Swansea, killing several men, women, and children. The Colonists retaliated by attacking area tribes, including Narragansett men, women and children encamped in the Great Swamp.

More than 5,000 people died in the war, more than three-quarters of them Indians. Half of New England’s towns were burned or pillaged. Philip was drawn, quartered and beheaded, and some Indian captives were shipped to the Caribbean as slaves.

“That a game would be based on this really bothers me,” says Peters. “Would we play a game called The Holocaust?”

Mohegan Discussion At Norwich Historical Society Meeting On Monday

Feather News

A discussion of the history of the Mohegan Tribe will follow the Norwich Historical Society's annual meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday at at the Slater Auditorium, located at the Norwich Free Academy.

The event is free to the public.

Contact the Norwich Historical Society at 860-886-1776 for more information.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pocono Downs And Parx Casino Approved For Table Games

Feather News

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board formally approved applications yesterday for table games submitted by the Mohegan's Pocono Downs slot parlor and the Parx Casino in eastern Pennsylvania.

The two gambling houses are the first in Pennsylvania to be approved for table games so far and both hope to begin offering the games to the public this year.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Connecticut's Tribal Casinos Report February Slot Revenues

Feather News

The Mohegan Sun reported a 7.7 percent decline in its February slot revenue while Foxwoods reported a decline of 11.1 percent in its February slot revenue compared to the same month last year.

According to The Day, the Mohegan Sun gave away more than $5.6 million in slot machine free-play promotions that were used in February while Foxwoods recorded slightly more than $5 million of free play in February. That would mark the highest amount of free play promotions ever used at Mohegan Sun in one month.

February slot revenues were $51.6 million at Foxwoods and $58.1 million at Mohegan Sun. Both casinos give the state 25 percent of these slot revenues.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods To Report February Slot Revenues Today

Feather News

The Mohegan Sun reported that its February slot revenues fell by 7.7 percent in February. Foxwoods is slated to report its February slot figures later today.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New York To Re-Bid Aqueduct Racetrack Slot Parlor

Feather News

New York Governor David Paterson said today that the state should re-open the search for a company to build and operate a large slot parlor at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, N.Y.

The Mohegans participated in two separate rounds of bidding but came up empty-handed. The cost of these proposals is not known.

The winning bidder for the last round, Aqueduct Entertainment Group, has been rejected by the state's Lottery Division and investigations continue over the selection process.

In a Lottery Division statement, “The Division of the Lottery has concluded that it cannot issue a gaming license to Aqueduct Entertainment Group (AEG). Therefore, the State has officially withdrawn its support for AEG to develop and operate a video lottery terminal (VLT) facility at Aqueduct Race Track.”

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Day Editorial On Lynn's Appointment To Chief

Feather News

The following installment of The Tribes In The Media is an editorial in The Day newspaper on Lynn's appointment to Chief. Its an interesting editorial but we mention it here to clarify an issue that could be misleading to tribal members.

The Day fails to mention that what was largely left out of the Tribe's petition for federal recognition were the activities of John Hamilton. After the petition was denied, the Hamilton files were sent as a response to the federal government's denial and the Tribe ultimately ended up getting federally recognition.

To be clear, many people and their papers contributed to federal recognition and the Hamilton files were just one piece but it turned out to be the final piece we needed for recognition.

Editorial: Hail Mohegan chief
The Day
March 7, 2010

Women have always played an important role in the Mohegan Tribe. So news last week that Lynn Malerba will be inducted as the Mohegan's new chief for life later this year really shouldn't have come as such a surprise.

But it did. Perhaps because until recently, contributions of the tribe's women, while monumental, have been relatively low profile.

It is the Mohegan ladies who produced the necessary documentation - birth announcements, wedding reception lists, church register and obituaries - that led to federal recognition in 1994. The tribe saw its original application denied when federal researchers couldn't document the Mohegan's social and political activities in the 1940s and 50s.

It turns out, the researchers had focused their efforts on the tribe's male leaders, while it was the women who held proof that Mohegans had been a cohesive unit for centuries.

At last Thursday's news conference at the Mohegan Church announcing the tribe's intention to name Ms. Malerba its new chief, she remarked on "the strong and active role" of Mohegan women over the years.

"The ladies sewing circle held in this very church," she said, "was really code for let's boss the men around."

The 56-year-old Malerba will step aside from her role as chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribal Council in August to become the public face of the tribe. She is only the second female chief -the last and only other woman was Anne Uncas who was the interim sachem for a short time in 1723 - and replaces the much loved and respected Ralph Sturges, who led the tribe from 1992 until his death in 2007.

Ms. Malerba follows an impressive legacy, from those of the sachem Uncas, who led the tribe after its split from the Pequots in 1635, to Mr. Sturges, who's genial ways contributed to the tribe's reputation as a good neighbor. We wish the new chief and the Mohegan Tribe well.

Monday, March 8, 2010

More On The Financial Outlook Of Foxwoods

Feather News

The following installment of The Tribes In The Media is an article by Brian Hallenbeck of The Day newspaper on further credit downgrades of Mashantucket Pequot debt and interesting actions being taken by the senior creditors.

More Mashantucket bonds are assigned default S&P rating
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day
March 6, 2010

Standard & Poor's, the financial company that rates bonds, has assigned its default rating to three more layers of bonds issued by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which is seeking to restructure more than $2 billion in debt under a forbearance agreement reached with its senior lenders.

Terms of that agreement prevented the tribe from making full interest payments due this week on more than $620 million worth of bonds, financial sources said Friday.

Standard & Poor's said in a statement that its rating action "stems from our belief that the tribe did not make the full interest payments due March 1, 2010 on its special revenue and subordinated special revenue bonds. The agency downgraded from "CCC" to "D" its "issue-level rating" on $250 million in 5.912 percent special revenue bonds maturing Sept. 1, 2021, and $300 million in special revenue bonds maturing Sept. 1, 2012, and its "underlying rating" on $70.4 million in 6.5 percent subordinated special revenue bonds due Sept. 1, 2031.

The amount of the interest payment due in each case could not be readily verified. Nor could it be determined whether the tribe had made any partial payments.

Standard & Poor's assigns a "D" rating when payments on an obligation are not made on time, even if a grace period has not expired, "unless Standard & Poor's believes that such payments will be made during such grace period."

Late last year, the tribe defaulted on a $21.25 million semiannual interest payment on $500 million worth of 8.5 percent notes that mature in November 2015. The tribe made a partial payment of $14.2 million on the so-called "coupon."

In October, the tribe entered into the forbearance agreement with a banking syndicate that holds a $700 million line of credit that will come due in July. The forbearance, originally set to expire Jan. 20, was extended through April 30.

Under the terms of the agreement, sources said, the banks are "trapping" the revenue the tribe derives from its Foxwoods Resort Casino, including MGM Grand at Foxwoods, essentially restricting the "waterfall" of cash that cascades to various levels of lenders and, ultimately, the tribe itself.

Standard & Poor's, in announcing the latest downgrades this week, put it this way: "… The administrative agent has exercised its right to prevent the transfer of free cash flow into trustee accounts that collect funds for the required principal and interest payments for the Tribe's junior creditors."

Tribal officials declined to comment on the Standard & Poor's rating action or other aspects of the tribe's debt-restructuring.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Newspaper Accounts Of Malerba's Appointment To Chief

Feather News

The following are stories in The Day and Norwich Bulletin on Lynn Malerba's appointment to Chief by the seven members on the Council of Elders.

Malerba elected Mohegan chief for life
By Brian Hallenbeck
The Day
March 5, 2010

New leader vows to be 'public face of the tribe'

Mohegan - As chief, her Mohegan name, "Mutawi Mutahash," translates as "Many Hearts," a more than suitable sobriquet for a former critical-care nurse who will have to minister to the needs of an 1,800-member Indian tribe.

Lynn Malerba, the Mohegan Tribal Council chairwoman elected chief for life by the tribe's Council of Elders, spoke at a press conference Thursday in Mohegan Congregational Church, vowing to lead as "the public face of the tribe."

Malerba will be installed as chief Aug. 15 during homecoming ceremonies at Fort Shantok, the tribe's ancestral land in Uncasville.

"With humility and great happiness, I accept this appointment as chief," said Malerba, standing behind a lectern. "It's a great responsibility and a great honor."

Members of the tribal and elders councils occupied chairs on either side of the church as Malerba and Robert Soper Sr., chairman of the elders council, spoke. The audience included Mohegan Sun executives and other tribal members.

"Every life-changing decision is difficult to make," said Malerba, who had to choose between accepting the appointment, which she did not seek, or remaining on the council. "I was overwhelmed by (elders) council's decision. I was taken aback. … But we have a stable and established tribal council which is very experienced. … I hope they'll still ask my opinion once in a while - and I have a lot of them."

The council chair's salary typically exceeds $250,000 a year, according to reports filed by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates Mohegan Sun. The council serves as the authority's management board.

Malerba declined to discuss the chief's compensation, saying it was private.

When Malerba leaves the council in August, Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, the council vice chairman, will serve as interim chairman. The tribe will conduct a special election of the membership to fill Malerba's seat on the council. The nine council members will then elect a new chairman.

Malerba will succeed Ralph Sturges, who served as Mohegan chief from 1992 until his death in October 2007. She is the great-granddaughter of Burrill Fielding, who served as chief from 1937 to 1952, and the daughter of Loretta Roberge, a venerated tribal member and former councilor who attended Thursday's press conference.

Soper said the elders council waited to name a chief out of respect for Sturges and had then asked tribal members to nominate candidates. He said a number of men and women were considered.

"It was a long, slow process," he said. "We worked on it for about a year."

In 1996, a change in the Mohegan constitution empowered the elders council to appoint the chief, Soper said, and ultimately all seven members of the council supported Malerba. Previously, chiefs were elected by the tribal membership.

Anne Uncas served as interim chief in 1723, the only woman to hold the position prior to Malerba's appointment.

Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan gaming authority, said Malerba's appointment as chief should be seen as a sign of the tribe's stability.

"This reminds us it's not all about the slot reports, the Black Eyed Peas and the basketball team," he said. "What this is all about is a tribe."

Etess said the gaming authority's lenders should not be concerned by the impending change in the tribal council's leadership.

"Quite the contrary," he said. "This council has depth and experience. If I'm in the financial community and I know Lynn is now the lifetime leader of the tribe I'd think it was a very positive sign."

Lynn Malerba named first female chief of Mohegan Tribe
By Adam Benson
Norwich Bulletin
March 4, 2010

Montville, Conn. — The Council of Elders of the Mohegan Tribe has appointed its first female chief in almost 300 years.

Tribal Council Chairwoman Lynn Malerba, 56, will be installed as the 17th chief in the tribe’s history on Aug. 15, during homecoming ceremonies at Fort Shantok, the tribe’s ancestral lands.

“It is with humility and great happiness that I accept the appointment of chief by the Mohegan Council of Elders,” Malerba said at a Thursday morning press conference at the Mohegan Church in Montville. “It is a great responsibility, and at the same time, a great honor.”

Malerba replaces Chief G’tinemong (Ralph Sturges), who led the tribe from 1992 until his death in 2007.

Bob Soper, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe Council of Elders, said members wanted to have an “appropriate period of mourning” before selecting a new chief.

The position of chief is a lifetime appointment, and Malerba will continue to serve as chair of the Tribal Council until her induction. A special election will be held to fill Malerba’s vacated seat on the nine-member council.

Malerba is the great-granddaughter of Matahga (Burrill Fielding), who served as the tribe’s chief from 1937 through 1952.

Malerba’s mother, Loretta Fielding Roberge, was honored to see her daughter chosen as the tribe’s new leader.

“Lynn will protect and preserve our history, culture and tradition for now and for future generations,” Roberge said. “May she walk forward with pride, dignity and honesty.”

Malerba becomes just the second female chief in the tribe’s history. Anne Uncas served as an interim Sachem for a brief period in 1723.

“Once I am installed as chief, acting in concert with both elected bodies, I will work to be a complement to their efforts,” Malerba said. “The role of leadership within the tribe has but one goal, and that is to meet the needs of our tribal community.”

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Malerba Named Mohegan Chief

Feather News

The seven-member Council of Elders of the Mohegan Tribe appointed Lynn Malerba, currently the chairwoman of the Tribal Council, as Chief.

Malerba will chief to succeed Chief G'tinemong, a.k.a. Ralph Sturges, who died in 2007 and was the last chief to be elected by the membership.

According to reports, Malerba will step down from the Tribal Council in August.

State's Gaming Director Says Tribal Casinos Will Be Shut Down If Payments Halted Over Keno Game

Feather News

The following article in The Day newspaper, today's Tribe In The Media installment, reports that the executive director of the Division of Special Revenue, Paul Young, believes the tribal casinos would be shut down if they withold payments to the state over the Keno gambling game.

Keno dispute seen as unlikely to turn confrontational
By Ted Mann
The Day
March 4, 2010

But state and tribes don't see eye to eye on whether lottery's use of game would violate casino compact

Hartford - If Connecticut's two Indian casinos play hardball over a proposal to add keno to the state lottery, shutting off slot-machine payments to the state government, they may get a dose of hardball in return.

The executive director of the Division of Special Revenue, which oversees state revenue from casinos and the state lottery, said Wednesday that state officials would order Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to cease operations of their slot machines and video facsimile gambling machines if either stopped making the monthly slot payments.

Such a confrontation is unlikely, said Paul A. Young, the executive director of the special revenue office.

"I one hundred percent don't believe that would occur," Young said in a phone interview a day after hearings on the Rell administration's proposal to offer keno through the Connecticut Lottery to help balance the state budget.

But the possibility of casinos protesting the introduction of keno by halting slot-revenue payments was raised in Tuesday's hearing of the Public Safety and Security Committee, including by Jackson T. King, the general counsel of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods, and John B. Meskill, the director of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission.

Under the terms of the memoranda of understanding signed by both tribes with the state to operate slot and video facsimile machines, if the state allowed others to operate designated casino games in the state, "then the payments no longer have to be made," King told lawmakers this week.

But Young countered that those same memoranda are "very clear" that without making the payments, the casinos "don't have the authority to operate slot machines."

In that event, he added "I'm sure we would issue a cease-and-desist that they were in violation of that memorandum and that they no longer have the authority to operate slot machines."

The division would also issue such orders to the multiple vendors that supply and support the slot and video machine operations at both Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, Young said, a move that would deprive all sides of revenue and likely lead to a prolonged court battle.

"Nobody wins," Young said. "They lose their income. We lose our income. Nobody wins."

Executives from both tribes said they also are hoping to avoid a major confrontation over keno, which was proposed by Rell last year but ultimately abandoned.

This year, Rell has put forward the proposal as part of a $1.3 billion borrowing package that her administration and legislators negotiated to balance the second year of the current two-year state budget. State officials would launch keno in bars, restaurants and other public spaces, then sell bonds backed by the anticipated revenue from new gamblers, which Rell has estimated at $60 million annually.

"We do have concerns about what we heard, but we want to continue to have dialogue," said Chuck Bunnell, the chief of staff of the Mohegan Tribe.

Both tribes maintain that keno should be considered a casino game, and therefore one that could only be offered by the casinos. State officials, including Young, Rell, and budget chief Robert L. Genuario, have said they believe the game is properly classified as a lottery game under the terms of the memoranda and the gaming compacts each tribe has signed with the state. Under the state's reading, the Connecticut Lottery is free to unilaterally offer keno, as it would any new lottery game, without violating the compacts.

Tribal officials like Bunnell counter that the overarching federal law that governs gambling operations on American Indian reservations considers keno a casino game - and also that signatories to the compacts that established Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun never would have intended a game like keno to be readily accessible in businesses all over the state.

"Six hundred or 1,000 gaming parlors opening up around the state ... Was that really the intent of the agreement that the tribes and the state entered into?" Bunnell said. "Our position is no. We don't believe when they entered into that agreement that they were thinking the state would ever do that. And based on what we heard yesterday, this is not something the state ever would have considered if it wasn't in this financial trouble."

Other state officials, including Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, have said the question of the state's legal right to offer keno remains undecided. But both tribes say they hope to forge an agreement with the state rather than head toward court.

"We still have not seen the formal proposal from the state at this point," said William Satti, the director of public affairs at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. "The Mashantuckets have had a very good working relationship with the state, and we want to continue on that path."

Meanwhile, there are other opponents to the Rell administration's keno push, including at least one of the Republicans wishing to succeed her. At a press conference Wednesday at the Legislative Office Building, former U.S. ambassador Tom Foley, a candidate for his party's gubernatorial nomination, said he disagreed with Rell's decision to push for keno. Foley criticized the fact that the state will be borrowing $1.3 billion to cover operating expenses in the first place, and said lawmakers and the governor should instead move quickly to cut at least $1 billion in spending instead.

"I think the keno is probably a bad idea," Foley said.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pennsylvania's State Gaming Board Gives Foxwoods Philadelphia Extension Ending At The End Of March

Feather News

At a meeting today of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, the Foxwoods Philadelphia investors received an extension until the end of March to submit a solid plan to finance the project. This installment of The Tribes In The Media is an update received by the Patriot-News of Pennsylvania and Bloomberg News article below that provides more specifics on Wynn's proposal.

Foxwoods Casino project gets a reprieve from Pennsylvania Gaming Board
The Patriot-News
March 03, 2010

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board gave the stalled Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia a reprieve from a takeover by Steve Wynn's Las Vegas-based company. Wynn made his case in Harrisburg today and met opposition from protestors who spoke up at this morning's meeting.

Financial sanctions remain in effect for Foxwoods, but the gaming board gave the group until March 31 to submit a definitive plan for financing the construction of the casino and a deadline of April 26 to submit architectural drawings of the proposed casino.

The Foxwoods project gained one of two licenses for slots parlors in Philadelphia in 2006, but the sour economy, financial problems and community objections have all combined to delay the project. Last month, the gaming board said it would consider revoking the license of the Foxwoods casino.

Wynn has a deal with Foxwoods investors to take over the Philadelphia project, but the agreement must be approved by the gaming board.

Another Philadelphia slots parlor, the Sugarhouse Casino, is under construction and slated to open this year. But more than five years after the state's slots law was approved by Gov. Ed Rendell and lawmakers, Pennsylvania's largest city still hasn't opened a casino.

The fate of the casino projects has implications well beyond the City of Brotherly Love. Some money from the state's slots parlors' revenue is earmarked for property tax relief. Getting the Philadelphia casinos online would potentially offer more tax relief for homeowners.

Wynn Resorts to Provide $250 Million for Philadelphia Casino
March 3, 2010,

March 3 (Bloomberg) -- Wynn Resorts Ltd., the casino company founded by billionaire Steve Wynn, will provide about $250 million for the riverfront project it’s seeking to take over in Philadelphia.

The funds represent approximately 40 percent of the estimated $600 million cost, based on “current thinking,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wynn told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board today. Wynn plans to manage the casino and own 51 percent under an accord with the current license holders.

The operator of the Wynn and Encore resorts in Las Vegas and Macau, China, seeks a presence on the U.S. east coast after dropping out of bidding to redevelop the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York. Pennsylvania is letting slots-only casinos add table games this year and has licensed two Philadelphia casinos. Wynn is joining original investors who will now own 49 percent, said Fred Jacoby, an attorney representing the developers.

“Everyone gets cut in half, a little more than half,” Wynn said at the hearing. The agreement includes options for Wynn Resorts to buy out the partners, he said.

The Las Vegas-based company can provide funding and a new design for the delayed casino, and help build it “rapidly,” Wynn, 68, told regulators at the public hearing in Harrisburg.

The testimony was interrupted by protesters opposed to casinos in Philadelphia who were removed from the hearing. The gaming control board must approve changes to the proposed project, including Wynn’s involvement, according to Chairman Gregory C. Fajt.

The proposed site, on about 15 acres along the Delaware River in Pennsylvania’s most populated city, will include a three-story structure with 3,000 slot machines, table games and a parking garage, Wynn said on a Feb. 25 conference call. It will feature Italian, steak and Vietnamese dining, and won’t include a hotel.

Retooled Partnership

“It’s going to be the cutest casino that you’ve ever seen,” Wynn said last week. “It’s not going to look like slots in a box.”

Wynn fell 12 cents to $66.75 at 2:21 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The stock had gained 15 percent this year before today.

Wynn Resorts said on Feb. 23 it signed a letter of intent with Philadelphia Entertainment and Development Partners to invest in and manage a casino in Philadelphia, joining investors who were awarded a license by state regulators in December 2006.

The partnership had controlled 70 percent of the proposed project and Foxwoods Development Co., a unit of the Mashantucket Western Pequot Tribal Nation, held 30 percent, and was supposed to design and manage the casino.

The Mashantucket tribe, owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, defaulted on some of its $2.5 billion debt last year. It has a forbearance agreement with lenders through April 30 to restructure borrowings.

Tribe’s Role

The tribe will become a 14 percent “passive minority investor,” Wynn said.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has fined the original developers $2,000 a day since Dec. 1 for failing to submit building plans for their proposed Foxwoods casino. Today’s hearing was scheduled to consider further penalties including potentially revoking the casino license, according to Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the regulator.

The second Philadelphia license went to SugarHouse Casino, a $355 million property on the riverfront scheduled to open its first phase in August.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mohegan And Mashantucket Pequot Nations Dig In On Keno

Feather News

The following Tribes In The Media installment is an article from The Day newspaper's website that covers tribal responses to the state's proposal to start a gambling game called Keno.

Tribes tell legislators keno would violate gaming compact
By Karin Crompton
The Day
March 2, 2010

Representatives of the two Indian tribes that run casinos in Connecticut said today that the state's proposal to use the game of keno to generate revenue would likely violate the agreement between the state and the tribes that regulates casino gaming.

The representatives of the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes spoke to the state's Public Safety and Security Committee during an informational hearing today. The committee is holding a public hearing on the issue this afternoon.

Proponents of the idea say that keno is a lottery game similar to existing games of chance the state already offers. But the tribal representatives had another take.

"It is a casino game," said John Meskel, director of operations for the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission. "It's very close to what we play at the casino. The reason we play it at the casino is because it's a complement to the casino games."

Jackson King, general counsel to the Mashantucket Pequots, said the state's Memo of Understanding with the tribes says the tribes "have no obligation to paying (a precentage of their revenue to the state) if anyone else in the state is permitted to operate video facsimiles or other commercial casino games."

The committee heard from a number of speakers who said it is unclear whether the state would prevail if the tribes challenged Connecticut's use of keno in court. A representative from the state's attorney general's office said courts have ruled differently in different states, and noted also that the state's compact with the tribes has not been challenged in court.