The Donald may
Trump Harrah’s

Feb 21, 2006 9:17 AM

Donald Trump wants to "put Johnston, Rhode Island, on the map," the Providence Journal reported last week. Trump Entertainment Resorts is proposing a $750 million to $1billion resort casino including a hotel, retail, and entertainment center.

The proposal has ruffled the feathers of Harrah’s Entertainment and its local partner, the Narragansett Indian tribe, who have been negotiating an exclusive casino license with state lawmakers for several years.

Harrah’s proposal is to build a $650-million hotel and casino in West Warwick, and they have offered the state a tiered tax, starting at 25 percent of its gambling revenue. Two years ago, the House and Senate approved putting the Harrah’s-Narragansett proposal on the ballot.

But it was shot down by the state Supreme Court, which cited the state constitution’s prohibition on any new privately operated gaming facilities.

Last month, Rep. Timothy Williamson, D-West Warwick, presented a draft bill to rewrite the Constitution to specifically allow the Narragansetts and an unnamed "partner" to operate a casino in his town under the terms Harrah’s proposed, according to The Providence Journal.

Now James B. Perry, president and CEO of Trump Entertainment Resorts, is trying to convince Rhode Island lawmakers to allow competitive bidding for a single casino-operating license. Last week, he met with the Johnston Town Council and noted that Trump’s Ajax Gaming Venture LLC already "controlled" 112 potential acres for the project.

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004, claiming $1.8 billion in debts, and sold the Majestic Star Casino in Indiana. The company still operates the Trump Plaza, Trump Marina and Trump Taj Mahal casino hotels in Atlantic City.

Narragansett Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas issued a statement saying, "As the state reviews the investment of nearly $1 billion necessary for a resort-casino like Foxwoods, we would urge decision-makers to review the financial capabilities of the Trump organization as compared to the financial capabilities of the tribe and (the) Harrah’s Entertainment team."

Nebraska tribes mount campaign for
Class 3 gaming

After more than 10 years of trying to get casino-style gambling in their state, a coalition of Nebraska tribes has organized a petition to put the issue back on the November ballot, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The Winnebago, Santee Sioux and Omaha tribes, in association with the consulting firm Affirmative Public Policy Solutions, filed the petition with the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office last week. The petition calls for one off-reservation, tribally owned Class III casino. In return, the tribes would not build casinos on their reservations.

Class III gaming is currently illegal in Nebraska and the state has refused to establish casino-style gaming compacts with tribes. State Sen. DiAnna Schimek of Lincoln told the Lincoln Journal Star, "I think that it’s a shame we haven’t been able to allow the tribes, what I consider their sovereign right, to have casinos on the reservations. ”¦if they can figure out another way to do it, then good for them."

The proposal includes revenue sharing of 22 percent with the state and 3 percent with the county in which the casino would be located.

Although Nebraska voters rejected a November 2004 effort to expand gambling in the state, the tribes are hopeful about this latest effort because of its limited approach. Ben Thompson, a spokesperson for the consulting firm, said he didn’t think the constitutional prohibition would apply to the latest proposal. "I think people in Nebraska are going to find this a much better deal for the state," he said.