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Apr 3, 2001 9:18 AM

MIDWEST

MGM MIRAGE gets Detroit riverfront site

MGM MIRAGE announced last week that it, the other two operators of casinos in Detroit, and the City of Detroit have entered into an agreement in principle concerning the locations of the operators’ permanent facilities.

Under the agreement in principle, which is subject to further documentation and approvals, MGM MIRAGE will develop its permanent MGM Grand Detroit hotel-casino complex on the Detroit riverfront site while the other operators will remain at their present locations and construct their permanent hotel-casinos there.

The other operators will make substantial payments to the City of Detroit to enable the city to acquire and develop land for a park along the Detroit River, directly adjacent to the MGM Grand Detroit hotel-casino. MGM MIRAGE anticipates commencement of construction by the summer of 2002.

Bill on counties sharing gaming money goes unopposed

No one opposed a bill to let Wisconsin counties share $300,000 in Indian gaming money for enforcement of snowmobile laws at a committee hearing last week, even though the Oneida tribe has had strong objections in the past.

The Oneida withheld $4.5 million in gaming revenue from the state until last week because tribal leaders objected to the state using $23 million a year from all tribal casinos on programs of little or no benefit to the tribes or their neighbors.

As an example, Oneida Chairman Gerald Danforth had cited spending on snowmobile patrols. The group also opposed the spending of Indian gaming money on elk management and studies of crop damage caused by cranes.

Representatives of the state Snowmobile Recreational Council, the Wisconsin Snowmobile Association and the Department of Natural Resources testified in support of the bill at the Monday hearing of the Assembly’s Tourism and Recreation Committee, which took no action.

WEST

Oklahoma allows tribes to operate OTBs

The state of Oklahoma last week agreed to allow three Indian tribes to operate off-track horse betting locations, while a fourth tribe had a controversial compact refined and renewed.

Agreements were signed with the Kaw Tribe, with headquarters near Ponca City; the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Shawnee; the Seminole Nation in Wewoka; and the Choctaw Nation in Durant.

Federal law requires Indian tribes to have a compact with states for Class III gaming. Class III gaming includes pari- mutuel wagering and casino-style games.

Howard Barnett, Gov. Frank Keating’s chief of staff, said the agreement with the Choctaws ends a two-year dispute over where the tribe could place its betting parlors.

Federal law says off-track betting parlors may not operate within 60 miles of a horse track without consent of the track. A site in Pocola operated by the tribe is 25 miles from Blue Ribbon Downs, which has not agreed to the betting there. The Choctaws, who have off-track betting at four other sites, argued that as a sovereign nation they are exempt from that federal limit.

Clergy oppose California casino

While Oxnard’s police chief said a proposed Indian gambling casino near the Ventura Freeway may be a reasonable idea, a coalition of the California city’s clergy has announced a campaign opposing the plan.

Rebuffed in a recent attempt to bring an Indian casino to Channel Islands Harbor, Las Vegas-based Paragon Corp. has proposed building a casino and a 250-room hotel on 25 acres spanning the struggling Oxnard Factory Outlets and an adjacent field.

Paragon officials contend their partnership with the Greenville Rancheria band of Maidu Indians would bring money and jobs to Oxnard. Opponents, however, say a casino would increase crime and drain cash from people who can least afford to lose money.

EAST

Forum planned on tribe’s proposal to put pier at casino

The New London (Conn.) City Council will conduct a public forum Monday on the Eastern Pequot Indians’ proposal to build a $500 million casino at Adm. Harold E. Shear State Pier.

The Pequots will make a presentation at the 6 p.m. meeting at New London High School, and the public will have a chance to voice their opinion on the proposal.

The Pequots have approached city officials with an offer of $3 million a year to the city if citizens support their project.

Before the tribe can build a casino, it would have to become federally recognized, take over all 60 acres at the State Pier and negotiate a gaming compact with the state.

Quick Draw gets reprieve

Quick Draw is getting at least three more months of life.

The 6-year-old, keno-style New York Lottery game faced temporary extinction at midnight last Saturday, but will live until at least June 30 under an emergency spending bill lawmakers approved last week.

Quick Draw agents had feared a repeat of 1999, when a state budget impasse led to a four-month suspension of the game.

Quick Draw was very important to small restaurants and taverns who compete against everything from Turning Stone Casino on down.”

Caesars remodels hotel tower for seniors

Caesars Atlantic City last week opened its remodeled hotel towers designed specifically for senior citizens, a first for Atlantic City.

The 311 rooms in the renamed Temple Towers feature extra shower-stall grab bars, bigger telephones, brighter bathroom lights and brighter décor.

Caesars is emphasizing the towers’ immediate access to the hotel lobby and casino floor and their close proximity to the parking garage.

Within the garage, Caesars has realigned handicap parking spaces for better access to the elevators and highlighted the handicap dropoff area next to the lobby walk bridge.

Poll: Tourney schools would take ads from internet gambling sites

Despite the NCAA’s insistence that it is trying to stamp out illegal gambling on college campuses, the student newspapers of all 65 universities that qualified for the NCAA basketball tournament either take or would run advertising for Internet gambling sites, according to an informal poll released today by the American Gaming Association.

The poll, conducted by National Media, an Alexandria, Va.-based media placement firm, also found that all 11 schools who have members on the NCAA Division I board of directors would also run the advertising.

In conducting the poll, National Media contacted, by phone, the advertising departments of the schools to determine if the newspapers would sell advertising space to Internet gambling sites. Not one said they would not and all quoted the cost of running the ads.

The NCAA is advocating a federal ban on legal college sports wagering in Nevada that would do nothing to eliminate the widespread illegal gambling occurring on college campuses and elsewhere in the country.

SOUTH

Isle of Capri to make decision about road

It’s now up to Isle of Capri officials to decide whether they will construct an alternate route to the Natchez (Miss.) floating casino for better access during high water.

But the new plan would not allow the casino to remain open at higher river levels, only maintain a one-way flow of traffic, said City Engineer David Gardner.

Earlier this month, the Natchez Board of Aldermen voted to amend the city’s high water plan, which was first adopted in 1997 when spring flood waters caused the then Lady Luck casino to shut down for more than a week.

Under the original plan, Silver Street closes when the Mississippi River reaches 52 feet, the point at which water enters the street. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers considers 48 feet and rising to be flood stage.

Also at 52 feet, the portion of D.A. Biglane Street below the casino parking lot closes. Shuttle buses may still carry passengers to the boat ramp, which rests near the circular drive during high water.

Under both the old and amended plans, all access to the casino shuts down at 54 feet, Gardner said.


Oneidas, Mexico make first-ever agreement

The Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York made an agreement with officials of Mexico last week to develop and manage Las Vegas-style casinos in the Pacific Coast tourist resorts of Acapulco and Mazatlan.

It is believed to be the first time an American Indian tribe has negotiated a nation-to-nation diplomatic agreement for casino development outside the United States. Oneida officials said that market studies have not been completed but that the new casinos and resorts could cost as much as $500 million to build, depending on the size.

The Oneidas’ enterprises include the Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y., 30 miles east of Syracuse. Once one of the nation’s smallest and most impoverished tribes, the Oneidas have turned into an economic powerhouse: They employ 3,000 people and have an annual payroll of $63 million.

Oneidas offered free tuition to SUNY

The Oneida Indian Nation said it asked the government to provide free SUNY tuition for every Indian and non-Indian child who lives on 250,000 acres in New York’s Madison and Oneida counties as part of its land claim settlement.

A spokeswoman for Gov. George Pataki said the proposal only involved free tuition for Oneida Indian children.

The settlement talks fell through last summer. But the information surfaced for the first time last week when the Oneida Indian Nation summarized the land claim for page three of its 2000 annual report.

Red-headed comedian Carrot Top appears on

April 27

Carrot Top, billed as America’s funniest and craziest redhead, is coming to the Showroom at the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Casino Resort on April 27 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $30, $35 and $45.

The Florida native found his niche as a wacky comedian while attending Florida Atlantic University. As a college senior, he participated in an amateur comedy contest and walked away a winner.

He earned two titles in 1993 from the National Association of Campus Activities — Entertainer of the Year and Comedian of the Year. A year later, Carrot Top won the American Comedy Award for “Best Male Stand-up Comedian."

David Sanborn plays at Turning Stone on

April 25

David Sanborn, one of America’s leading saxophonist for over four decades, is coming to the Showroom at the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y., on April 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25, $30 and $40.

Sanborn’s last album Inside from Elektra Entertainment, is his eighteenth album. The songs like “When I’m With You” (featuring Lalah Hathaway), “Ain’t No Sunshine” (featuring Sting), and a remake of Aretha Franklin’s “Daydreaming.”


Tap dancing legend Donald O’Connor on April 17

Donald O’Connor, the tap dancing king and acting legend for over six decades, is coming to the Showroom at the Oneida Indian Nation’s Turning Stone Casino Resort in Verona, N.Y., on April 17 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $27.

O’Connor is well known for his leading roles in Singin’ in the Rain, White Christmas, Call Me Madam and There’s No Business Like Show Business.

O’Connor has been on a number of television shows through the years. He was a guest host for the Tonight Show in 1962. But six years later he received his own short lived show called The Donald O’ Connor Show.