Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Foxwoods Philly Casino Revived With Harrah's Talks

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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

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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

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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.


Source:
By Lori Stabile, Casino backer aims to clear air, The Republican, Oct. 22, 2010, at: http://www.masslive.com/hampfrank/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-29/1287645793258670.xml&coll=1

Friday, October 22, 2010

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Source:
Brain Hallenbeck, Bozsum to again head Mohegan Tribal Council, The Day, Oct. 19, 2009, at: http://www.theday.com/article/20101019/NWS01/310199891

Monday, October 18, 2010

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

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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

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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.

Source:
By Kenneth R. Gosselin, Guinan Fired As Co-Publisher Of Hartford Magazine, The Hartford Courant, Oct. 14, 2010, at: http://www.ctnow.com/business/hc-guinan-fired-1015-20101014,0,990855.story

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

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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

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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.

Source:
By Sapna Maheshwari (with assistance from Brendan A. McGrail in New York. Editors: Sharon L. Lynch, Mitchell Martin), Bloomberg News, Oct. 11, 2010, at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-11/moody-s-cuts-seneca-gaming-rating-as-tribe-disputes-new-york-state-payment.html

Quinnipiac Poll Shows Blumenthal With Double-Digit Lead Over McMahon

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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

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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."