St. Ynez slot deadline frustrates officials

February 26, 2001 8:00 AM
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WEST

The repercussions of a state gambling agreement are echoing through St. Ynez, Calif., as yet another Indian casino rushes a building project to avoid losing its right to operate lucrative new slot machines.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians has angered Santa Barbara County officials by putting up walls for a 21,000 square-foot temporary building and planning a five-story parking garage in a rural area where nothing else approaches that size.

Santa Barbara County leaders aren’t alone in feeling frustrated. From San Diego in the south to Del Norte in the north, county officials are seeing a construction boom on federally protected reservation lands largely exempt from county building regulations.

In places like Santa Ynez, the pace has been quickened by a looming state deadline for installing slot machines.

Negotiated by Gov. Gray Davis in 1999 and approved by voters in Proposition 1A, state gaming compacts set a May 15 deadline for when tribes must have as many as 2,000 Las Vegas-style slots operational or risk losing licenses for the slots to other tribes.

Although the intended goal of the deadline was to set a limit to the number of slot machines in the state, it has resulted in a building frenzy. There are 60 gaming tribes in California. Only the biggest casinos have been able to avoid new construction for added slot machines.

The Chumash have 875 slot machines operating now in a casino that also features bingo and card games. The tribe wants to add 1,125 for the maximum of 2,000 by May 15.

Slot machines account for 80 to 85 percent of the profits at Indian casinos. Each machine is expected to bring in revenue of $200 to $500 daily, studies of out-of-state Indian casinos have shown.

Supervisors say no for Indian casino

Ventura County (Calif.) officials have rejected a Nevada gaming corporation’s offer to buy acreage at Channel Islands Harbor, convert the land into an Indian reservation, and build a 250-room hotel-casino with slot machines and gaming tables.

The proposal, presented to the Board of Supervisors at a Jan. 23 closed session, received no support ”” partly because supervisors concluded the Las Vegas-style resort wouldn’t fit in the laid-back oceanfront community, officials said.

Three other supervisors said they also strongly oppose the plan, an outgrowth of Proposition 1A last year. The ballot measure amended the state Constitution to allow Indian tribes to operate slot machines and blackjack tables at their reservation casinos.

SOUTH
Shreveport may try to land New Orleans riverboat

If Louisiana’s final riverboat casino license doesn’t bring another gambling hall to Shreveport, the city hopes to convince a riverboat in New Orleans to move.

Horseshoe Entertainment is one of three applicants for the license. The company has a casino complex in Bossier City. It hopes to put a riverboat on the Shreveport side of the Red River.

Mayor Keith Hightower said he hasn’t contacted any of the three New Orleans-area boats, but relocating one of them is an idea at least lightly entertained by Bally’s, on Lake Pontchartain, partly owned by Park Place Entertainment Corp. of Las Vegas.

Bally’s generally has the third-lowest revenue of the Louisiana riverboats. The two casinos below it are part of two-boat complexes in Lake Charles. Bally’s also competes with Harrah’s land casino in New Orleans.

EAST
Casino tax for growth proposed

Casinos would get tax incentives for expanding the industry in Atlantic City while also funding entertainment and redevelopment projects throughout the state, according to legislation proposed by New Jersey state Sen. Bill Gormley.

One of the entertainment projects funded by the bill could be a long-anticipated motor speedway in Cumberland County.

According to terms of the bill, casinos would get three types of tax incentives in exchange for extending their obligation period to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority from 30 to 35 years.

The bill already has 33 co-sponsors in the 40-member body. It would use those additional funds for new projects in urban areas, stretching from Atlantic City to Newark

MIDWEST
Plan for casino at Hudson dog track site approved

Over the opposition of many local residents, officials and Minnesota Indian tribes, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) last week gave conditional approval to a tribal gambling casino in Hudson, Wis., on the edge of the Twin Cities.

But the casino still must receive the concurrence of new Wisconsin Gov. Scott McCallum, who says he’s unalterably opposed to it.

The agency approved turning 56 acres at a failing greyhound-racing track into a miniature reservation for three Chippewa bands to open a casino 80 to 200 miles from their main reservations. It was at least a temporary victory for the bands and their financial backer, a Miami-based dog-track owner who hopes slot machines will rescue his business.

The BIA’s senior career employee, James McDivitt, said in a letter to McCallum the proposal meets crucial tests under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. He found it would be "in the best interests of the tribes and their members and not detrimental to the surrounding community."

Earlier this month, the St. Croix Valley area chapter of the Sierra Club threatened to sue the Interior Department if it approved the casino proposal.

Protest of planned expansion set for Rapid City

Some farmers, ranchers and Indians plan a rally March 2 and 3 in Rapid City to protest the proposed expansion of Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad into northeast Wyoming.

A release by the Cowboys and Indians Alliance says it represents Lakota tribal members, non-Indian ranchers and farmers who oppose the $1.4 billion project.

They claim it would violate treaties, harm historic Indian sites, and hurt the environment. Backers of the project say it will be an economic boon to the state.

The rally will let people give public comment both days at noon at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

Cerner negotiates to buy former Sam’s Town casino complex

Health industry software giant Cerner Corp. is negotiating to buy the former Sam’s Town casino complex in Kansas City. Price hasn’t been determined.

In a brief statement, Cerner real estate manager Brian Irwin said the company was eyeing the site for its 1,299-car parking garage, plus the casino’s office and entertainment pavilion for use as potential meeting space.

Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. paid $12.5 million for the 30-acre complex and riverboat when it closed in July 1998. It put the land, offices and parking garage on the auction block last week.

The gambling boat Judy’s Prize wasn’t part of the deal.


Foxwoods offering $500,000 Carribbean Cash Giveaway

Take the cash or take a cruise with the Foxwoods Resorts Casino’s $500,000 Caribbean Cash Giveaway, March 2-April 29.

Wampum Club cardholders can enter by swiping their Wampum Club Cards daily at any of the self-entry stations throughout the resort casino in Mashantucket, Conn., to find out if they’re instant winners.

Instant winners have one hour to go to Sweepstakes Headquarters near Cedars Steak House for verification and to use a touch screen monitor to win cash or a cruise.

"This is a great way for Wampum Club cardholders to get a head start on the summer or pocket some easy cash," said President and CEO Bill Sherlock.

The cruises are arranged through Foxwoods’ in-house travel agency, offering trips with Norwegian Cruise Lines. Foxwoods will award get-aways on Caribbean Cruises to Jamaica, the Bahamas or Puerto Rico, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash with a grand prize of $25,000.

Cruises include meals, entertainment and recreation in one location.

Membership in the Wampum Club is free. All sweepstakes participants and Wampum Club members must be at least 21 years old.


Daughters of Ali, Frazier return to Turning Stone

The daughters of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier will return to the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y., to continue their professional boxing careers on the same card Friday night.

Laila Ali will take on Bethany Payne (2-8) of Atlanta and Jacqui Frazier will face Genevia Buckhalter (2-7) of Columbus, Miss., in separate super middleweight matches.

Ali and Frazier each began their professional boxing careers within the past 18 months. Though neither is ranked with the International Female Boxing Association, both are undefeated.

Both women scored early first-round KOs in previous appearances at Turning Stone.

Since making her professional debut at Turning Stone in October 1999, Ali has earned an 8-0 record with seven KOs. Frazier, a practicing attorney and mother of three, made her pro debut in February 2000 at age 38. Her record is 6-0 with six KOs.

The top spot on the card features former USBA lightweight champion and current NABF lightweight champion Ivan "Mighty" Robinson of Philadelphia vs. Andre Cray (17-9, 11 KOs) of Columbus, Ohio. Since 1992, Robinson, a junior welterweight, has a record of 29 wins with 11 KOs, five losses and one draw.

Baidy nominated for golf superintendent of year

Joseph Baidy, director of golf courses and grounds at Turning Stone’s golf complex, was nominated for superintendent of the year by a major international golf trade publication.

Monkees reunion slated for March 21

The Monkees are coming to the showroom at Turning Stone Casino Resort at 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 21. Tickets are $55, 60 and $70.

Tickets are available at the Turning Stone box office, by calling (877) 833-SHOW, and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

Oneida’s tax case moves to March 9

Lawyers for the city of Sherrill will argue March 9 in federal court that the Oneida Indian Nation should pay city property taxes.

The Oneidas sued Sherrill early last year in an attempt to block the city from foreclosing on land recently purchased by the nation.