Friday, January 28, 2011

Norwich Bulletin Erroneously Reports That Distributions To Mohegan Tribal Members Cut

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The Norwich Bulletin posted an article to their website today falsely stating that distributions to Mohegan tribal members were reduced. The headline of the article is "Mohegan Sun adds another adviser as 1Q profit rises, revenue falls: Distributions to tribal members cut 83.5 percent."

Aside from the erroneous headline, the article mentions that distributions to tribal members were reduced "substantially" and again in a sentence that reads, "Distributions to tribal members for the three months ended Dec. 31 were cut 83.5 percent to $4.5 million from $27.3 million a year earlier."

The reporter confuses yesterday's MTGA press release that stated the amount the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority distributed to the Tribal government during the months of October through December with the actual distributions to members.

The Bulletin posted another article later in the day entitled, "Mohegan Sun slashes tribal distribution," in which it reports, "Mohegan Sun announced that it has cut distributions to tribal members substantially and has hired an additional financial adviser ...."

See Norwich Bulletin article at: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/x517527081/Mohegan-Sun-adds-another-adviser-as-1Q-profit-rises-revenue-falls and at: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/business/x1868082662/Mohegan-Sun-slashes-tribal-distribution

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pennsylvania Gaming Board Releases Its Reasoning Behind Revocation Of Foxwoods Philly Casino License

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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board made public a document that gives its reasoning why it revoked the casino license for the Foxwoods Philly casino. A link to that document can be found in the left hand column of this blog under the title of "Adjudication of Foxwoods Philly's Casino License."

Mohegan Gaming Authority Reports 1st Quarter Profit Of $12.9 Million

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The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported a profit of $12.9 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2011. The first quarter is comprised of the three-month period of October through December. The figures include results at Mohegan Sun and the Tribe's Pocono Downs casino in Pennsylvania.

The profits are not reduced by the $4.5 million distributed to the Tribal government by the gaming authority in the first quarter. Last year, MTGA distributed $27.3 million to the Tribe in the same period.

The quarterly profit is an increase over the $3.9 million in net income, adjusted from $4.4 million, reported for the same three-month period in 2009 despite declining revenues in all categories except for table game revenue.

MTGA's overall gross revenues (money spent by customers at the casino properties and before deducting any expenses) for the three months were $361 million, down from $370 million for the same period last year.

MTGA reported that its Pennsylvania casino's income from operations, which doesn't take into account interest expenses, was $6.3 million for the quarter. This figure is a $4 million increase over the income from operations during the same period last year. Had interest expenses on debt related to the Pennsylvania casino been deducted from this figure, the result would be a loss.

The increase in MTGA's total table game revenue over last year is attributable to the addtion of table games in July at the Tribe's Pennsylvania casino.

MTGA reported $4.6 million in expenses over the three-month period related to its corporate diversification department. These costs represent about 30 percent of the quarterly profits. Diversification efforts have largely been focused on opening a possible casino in Massachusetts. Legislation to allow casino gambling has not yet been approved in that Massachusetts.

MTGA reported $68.5 million in adjusted EBITDA (which stands for earnings before interest expense, taxes, depreciation and amortization), a 7.3 percent increase over last year. The structure of a transaction between MTGA and the Mohegan Sun's former casino management company, which results in payments by MTGA to that company through 2014, ensures that the adjusted EBITDA figure will always reflect an increase through 2014, assuming all other variables being equal.

Interest expense for the three-month period was about $30 million, a slight increase over the same period last year, due to an increase in the weighted average interest rate of 7.1 percent on MTGA's debt compared to the weighted average interest rate of 6.8 percent reported for the same period last year.

MTGA had $1.7 billion in debt as of December 31, 2010 and reported that it hired Credit Suisse, to "assist in the evaluation of refinancing alternatives." MTGA reported last year that it engaged Blackstone Advisory Partners, L.P. to "assist in its strategic planning relating to its debt maturities."

MTGA's quarterly conference call with analysts will take place later this morning.

See press release at: http://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/1005276/000119312511015478/dex991.htm

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mohegan Gaming Authority To Announce On January 27 Its Operating Results For October Through December

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The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has set January 27 as the date when it will discuss with analysts its operating results for the three-month period of October through December. MTGA typically releases the operating results on the same day as its conference call with analysts.

The period of October through December represents the first quarter of MTGA's fiscal year 2011.

MTGA reported $4.4 million in net income, or profit, for the three-month period of November through December in 2009 and reported a $3.8 million loss for the same three-month period in 2008. Distributions made by MTGA to the Tribe are not deducted from these figures.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Foxwoods Philly Files Appeal In Pennsylvania Court Over License Revocation

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The investment group that includes a gaming arm of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and was to build a casino in Philadelphia before its license was revoked by the state gaming commission is appealing the gaming commission's decision in Pennsylvania court.

The group of investors filed the appeal on Friday since it had not yet received a response from to its petition submitted to the Pennsylvania gaming board for reconsideration of the license revocation. The investment group, called the Philadelphia Entertainment & Development Partners (PEDP), also is unsure of whether it will be able to recoup the $50 million it paid for the gaming license in 2006. The state law and the gaming board are silent on whether PEDP is eligible to the return of its $50 million paid for the license.

The state gaming board, called the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, revoked PEDP's license in December after PEDP failed to line up financing to build the casino. At the last minute, PEDP secured a financing committment from Caesar's and various banks in exchange for ceding ownership and management interests to Caesar's but the state gaming board was not satisfied with the changes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pocono Downs Table Game Revenue Slips To Lowest Level Since Opening

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Consistent with the seasonal nature of gambling in the Northeast, table game revenue at the Mohegan's Pocono Downs casino in Pennsylvania reached its lowest level in December.

Pocono Downs' table game revenue, the amount lost by customers at the tables, was $3.2 million in December. Table game revenue at Pocono Downs for the first five months of table game operations were:

August $3.5 million
September $3.4 million
October $3.5 million
November $3.6 million
December $3.2 million

Taxes and expenses related to table games are not deducted from the above amounts. Pocono Downs increased the number of table games from 72 in August to 84 table games in later months.

CT Senator Joe Lieberman Not To Seek Re-Election

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U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman from Connecticut announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election in 2012.

Sen. Lieberman, who will have served 24 years when he leaves office in 2012, said that he will still be involved in public service in some manner after he steps down from office.

Sen. Lieberman was a Democrat up until he lost the Democratic primary in 2008. He then became an Independent to win re-election for the Senate seat.

Connecticut's representation in the Senate will be markedly different without the seniority of Sen. Lieberman and former Sen. Chris Dodd, who left office after deciding not to seek re-election in 2010.

Sen. Lieberman was Al Gore's vice-presidential running mate in their unsuccessful presidential election bid in 2000 on the Democratic ticket. Sen. Lieberman supported the Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain, in the last presidential election and was rumored to be a potential running mate of Sen. McCain's in that election up until the selection of Sarah Palin.

Sen. Lieberman, a former attorney general for the State of Connecticut, was an original sponsor of the federal Tribal Law and Order Act.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mashpee Wampanoag Forced To Look For New Proposed Casino Site

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The State of Massachusetts will once again consider casinos but the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe just lost their proposed casino site in New Bedford and must look for a new site. The article below, part of the Tribes In The Media series, is from The Cape Cod Online media outlet.

Fall River pulls plug on Wampanoag casino
By George Brennan
Cape Cod Online
January 18, 2011

Fall River officials have told the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe that their $21 million purchase of 300 acres in Fall River for a casino is off the table.

Instead, Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan and a contingent of city leaders are meeting with state economic development officials this morning to resurrect the idea of building a biotechnology park, known as the BioPark, on the land. The park would include a bioprocessing and training facility to be built by the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.

More Times Breaking NewsThe deed restriction that prohibits a casino on the property, as well as an ongoing lawsuit brought by 10 taxpayers to block the sale to the tribe were seen as hurdles that would be too difficult to overcome, said Kenneth Fiola, vice president of the Fall River Redevelopment Authority.

This appears to be another blow for the Mashpee Wampanoag, who have been pushing for a casino for nearly four years since gaining federal recognition in 2007. Once considered inevitable, the hurdles have stacked up against the casino.

In May, the tribe scrapped a deal it had in place with Middleboro, where there was vocal opposition, to pursue the Fall River land with new investors.

On Tuesday, tribal council Chairman Cedric Cromwell issued a statement saying that the tribe is optimistic it will find a new site in Fall River. “This remains an outstanding opportunity to create jobs for the tribe and the city, and we are working hard to make this project a reality,” Cromwell said.

After months of negotiation that began last Feburary, Flanagan announced in May the city had reached a deal with the Mashpee Wampanoag to sell the 300 acres near Route 24. The tribe said it would build a $500 million resort casino that would include three hotels and a shopping mall.

City and state officials raised immediate questions about the proposal because of a deed restriction that banned both a landfill and casino at the site and because the state had already invested $34 million to build an exit off Route 24 for the BioPark.

But Flanagan and Cromwell pressed forward saying the casino jobs would make a more immediate impact on the city's double-digit unemployment rate and they could convince the Legislature to remove the deed restriction. In October, the redevelopment authority agreed to sell 45 acres to the tribe for $4.5 million. The tribe also had an option on 255 additional acres for $16 million.

No money ever changed hands and before the city and tribe leaders had a chance to sign a written agreement, a lawsuit was filed to block it. In addition to the deed restriction, that suit objected to the redevelopment authority selling the land without going out to competitive bid.

A Bristol Superior Court judge imposed a preliminary injunction that has so far thwarted the city's efforts to sell the land to the tribe. That case continues to wind its way through the court.

Monday, January 17, 2011

King Inspired By Time He Lived In Connecticut And Worked On Connecticut Tobacco Farm

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The following AP article, part of the ongoing Tribe In The Media series, discusses Martin Luther King's experience while working and living on a tobacco farm in Connecticut. The quality of the tobacco grown in the Connecticut River valley has been highly regardly since colonial days. The civil rights leader was born 82 years ago and is the only person who was not a former president to have a federal holiday named after him.

By John Christoffersen
Associated Press
January

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Martin Luther King Jr. could hardly believe his eyes when he left the segregated South as a teenage college student to work on a tobacco farm in Connecticut.

"On our way here we saw some things I had never anticipated to see," he wrote his father in June 1944. "After we passed Washington there was no discrimination at all. The white people here are very nice. We go to any place we want to and sit any where we want to."

The slain civil rights leader, whose birthday is observed Monday as a federal holiday, spent that summer working in a tobacco field in the Hartford suburb of Simsbury. That experience would influence his decision to become a minister and heighten his resentment of segregation.

"It's clear that this little town, it made a huge impact on his life," said John Conard-Malley, a Simsbury High School senior who did a documentary with other students on King's experiences in Connecticut. "It's possibly the biggest thing, one of the most important things, people don't know about Martin Luther King's life."

Until then, King was thinking of other professions such as becoming a lawyer, Conard-Malley said. But after his fellow Morehouse College students at the tobacco farm elected him their religious leader, he decided to become a minister.

In his later application to Crozer Theological Seminary King wrote that he made the decision that summer "when I felt an inescapable urge to serve society. In short, I felt a sense of responsibility which I could not escape."

"Perhaps if he hadn't come to Connecticut, hadn't picked tobacco up here, hadn't felt like a free person, hadn't felt what life was like without segregation and been elected the religious minister, he may not have become such a leader in the civil rights movement," Conard-Malley said.

Nicole Byer, a junior at Simsbury High School who narrates the documentary, noted that King was roughly the same age as the students who produced the documentary. Such early experiences can have a profound influence on young people, she said.

"Everything right now influences us," Byer said. "Any small experience can change the direction of what we do right now."

In a letter to his mother three days after he wrote his father, King marveled over a trip he took to Hartford.

"I never thought that a person of my race could eat anywhere but we ate in one of the finest restaurants in Hartford," King wrote. "And we went to the largest shows there."

He wrote a week earlier of going to the same church in Simsbury as white people. His new calling as a religious leader was emerging, too.

"I have to speak on some text every Sunday to 107 boys. We really have good meetings," he wrote.

William Duschaneck, an 88-year-old Simsbury resident interviewed by the students, said he played baseball with King in town. King was a strong pitcher, though the future preacher of nonviolence never drilled a batter, he said.

"He was a good ballplayer. He beat us a couple times," Duschanek told The Associated Press, laughing. "It was interesting to hear him talk. He had a nice voice. He talked about God and so forth."

King described the work on the tobacco farm as easy.

"I have a job in the kitchen so I get better food than any of the boys and more. I get as much as I want," he wrote to his mother.

In a speech in Hartford in 1959, King recalled how hot it was working on the tobacco field and how he looked forward to relaxing on weekends in Hartford.

Byer says King and other students often worked in temperatures that reached 100 degrees or higher. The students, who were earning money to pay for college, made about $4 per day, Byer said. They lived in a dormitory built at the edge of the tobacco field.

King was nicknamed "Tweed" by his friends because he often wore a tweed suit to church, said Alexis Kellam, whose late father, Ennis Proctor, worked with King that summer in Connecticut.

King's friends teased him that the hot sun in the tobacco fields caused him to preach, his sister, Christine Farris, told The AP.

In her book "Through It All: Reflections on My Life, My Family, and My Faith," Ferris wrote that her brother underwent a "metamorphosis" as a result of his time in Connecticut.

"That was quite an experience," Farris said.

King's widow, Coretta Scott King, wrote in her memoir, "My Life With Martin Luther King Jr." that her husband talked of the exhilarating sense of freedom he felt in Connecticut that summer.

That taste of freedom ended as King returned home. When he got to Washington, he had to ride the rest of the way to Atlanta in a segregated train.

"After that summer in Connecticut, it was a bitter feeling going back to segregation," King wrote in his autobiography. "I could never adjust to the separate waiting rooms, separate eating places, separate rest rooms, partly because the separate was always unequal, and partly because the very idea of separation did something to my sense of dignity and self-respect."

Clayborne Carson, a history professor and director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University, said King's time in Connecticut played a role in his decision to become a minister and in influencing his views about segregation. He said shortly before King came to Connecticut that summer, a bus driver ordered him to give up his seat for a white passenger on the way to Atlanta.

"These experiences came fairly close to each other," Carson said. "I think the two things together sharpened his sense of resentment about segregation in the South."

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Foxwoods Slot Revenue Increases 1.2% In December; Mohegan Sun December Slot Revenue Declines 6.3%

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Foxwoods reported a 1.2 percent increase in slot machine win, the amout lost by customers at the machines, in December compared to the same month last year while Mohegan Sun reported a 6.3 percent decrease in slot win compared to December 2009.

Slot win at Foxwoods totalled $45.1 million in December. Mohegan Sun registerd $53.4 million in December slot win. Both casinos continue to attract customers by offering millions of dollars of free slot play. Foxwoods still offers more free slot play, redeeming $5.2 million worth of free slot play in December while Mohegan Sun redeemed $3.4 million in free slot play.Foxwoods sent $12 million of its win to the state Division of Special Revenue. Mohegan Sun contributed $13.5 million to the state.

Both tribal casinos will pay the State of Connecticut just over $25 million in total as a cut of the December slot machine action.

Friday, January 14, 2011

County To Appeal Federal Decision To Establish Cowlitz Tribe Reservation

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The first shot was fired to delay the establishment of the Cowlitz Tribe's reservation and proposed casino in the State of Washington's Clark County.

Clark County commissioners agreed to appeal the U.S. Department of Interior's decision made in late December to take land into trust as reservation land for the Cowlitz Tribe. The Cowlitz Tribe hopes to build a casino on the land which would be managed by the Mohegan Tribe.

The appeal will challenge the federal Department of Interior's authority to take the land into trust, claiming that the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Carcieri v. Salazar does not permit the transaction. In that case, the Supreme Court denied the authority of the Interior Department to take land into trust for the Narragansett Tribe, ruling that the Tribe was not under federal jurisdiction before 1934 as required under a new interpretation of a 1934 federal law. The 1934 law previously allowed the Interior Department to take land into trust for all federally recognized tribes, regardless of when the tribes were deemed to have been under federal jurisdiction.

Clark County's decision to appeal the establishment of the Cowlitz Tribe's reservation was not unexpected and will further delay a possible casino to be built on the land.

New Jersey Legislature Approves Online Gaming

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New Jersey's legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill that could make it the first state to legalize online poker if Gov. Chris Christie signs the bill into law.

To avoid running afoul of federal interstate online gambling laws, players would only be able to access the websites from within the state.

Online versions of table games, in addition to poker, would also be part of the games offered. If approved, only casinos in New Jersey will be licensed to operate the sites.

The state Senate voted 34-2 to approve the bill while the Assembly voted 63-11, with three abstentions. Senator Raymond Lesniak estimated that Internet gambling could add $100 million to casino revenues.

Attempts by the U.S. Congress to pass Internet gambling have failed recently and chances at federal approval are seen to be increasingly unlikely with a Republican-controlled House of Respresentatives.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

If Sticking A Card On Your Forehead Seems Too Obvious, Try Hiding The Card Up Your Sleeve

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This installment of The Tribes In The Media series is a Norwich Bulletin article on an alleged swindle run by Korean citizens who hid cards up their sleeves while playing baccarat at Foxwoods casino.

Foxwoods cheater hid cards up sleeve, police say
Expert: Casino foiled by old trick
By Greg Smith
Norwich Bulletin
January 4, 2011

In just two weeks of gambling at Foxwoods Resort Casino last year, four Korean nationals walked away from the baccarat tables with more than $870,000 in winnings.

It wasn’t luck or skill, according to newly unsealed police reports, but a cheating instrument known as a holdout device, that allows a player to hold a card up their sleeve.

Young Su Gy, 50, had the device concealed on his left forearm while his partner, Wookyung Kim, 34, acted as a blocker, waving score cards to obstruct the view from other patrons and baccarat dealers, police reports show. Police said two other people were working with the couple on various dates between Sept. 8 and Oct. 20. Federal authorities are investigating a link to an international syndicate.

Baccarat is a card game in which two or more players gamble against the banker. The winner is the one who holds two or three cards whose total is closest to nine.

Gy used the mechanical device to drop a card down to fit his hand and switch it with one he had picked up, saving the card until it fit another hand, according to the arrest warrant affidavit prepared by Detective Martin Graham, a member of the state police casino unit.

Spotted on camera

Most of the activity was captured by casino surveillance, but only after the group was gone. The Foxwoods Office of the Inspector General contacted state police Oct. 22 and filled them in on the scheme. Foxwoods security determined who the players were because they had obtained Foxwoods Player Dream Cards with their Korean passports. A month later, state police were contacted by the Department of Homeland Security to report the couple were back in the country, arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York on Nov. 19.

The couple were back at Foxwoods the same day, where they were served with a warrant.

Two other Korean nationals were arrested at the same time on a similar warrant issued by New Jersey authorities. A link is unclear, though federal authorities have been present at several court appearances.

Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Carney, who is prosecuting the case, declined comment while the case was pending.

Former baccarat dealer, professional cheater and self-proclaimed cheating expert Richard Marcus said the cheating scam and use of the holdout device is nothing new.

Old West device

“It is mainly used in poker games, dating back to Mississippi Riverboat days and the Old West,” Marcus said. “It simply allows a player to stash cards removed from a game or brought with him prior to the game up his sleeve where the device is hidden. Then when he needs to enter the cards into the game, he releases them from the holdout device, which generally holds up to six cards comfortably, depending on the device.

“It is simply incredible and a shame on Foxwoods surveillance that this old trick was used to beat them for that much money,” Marcus said.

Gy and Kim remain held in prison on $500,000 and $150,000 bonds, respectively. Their passports have been seized and they have entered not guilty pleas to a host of charges that include multiple felony counts of first-degree larceny and cheating. They are due back in New London Superior Court on Feb. 7.

A representative from Foxwoods Resort Casino could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

Source: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/casinos/x493323465/Foxwoods-cheater-hid-cards-up-sleeve-police-say