Future of Indian gaming at stake in Arizona

Apr 16, 2001 3:48 AM


The future of Indian gambling in Arizona is at stake in a lawsuit by three racetracks that contend the state’s 15 tribal casinos operate illegally.

The lawsuit asks U.S. District Judge Robert Broomfield to prohibit Gov. Jane Hull from renewing the state-tribal compacts that allow Indian casinos. The state and tribes have been negotiating new compacts for more than a year.

Neil Wake, attorney for three Phoenix area tracks, said slot machines, keno and poker games at Indian casinos are illegal and divert about $20 million from tracks each year.

A tracks-commissioned study estimates the casinos, which aren’t named as defendants in the case, bring in about $830 million annually.

Wake said unfair competition from Indian casinos put a track in Yuma and another in Tucson out of business.

The compacts violate the Arizona Constitution by giving tribes monopolies that aren’t available to non-Indians, Wake said.

Argosy a big contender for riverboat

An Illinois riverboat casino company is a serious contender in the purchase of Joliet’s Empress Casino, a riverboat currently owned by Las Vegas legend Jack Binion.

Argosy Gaming Co., owner of Alton Belle casino in Alton, is apparently closing in on a deal with Binion, who owns Horseshoe Gaming Co. and operates the Empress casinos in Joliet and Hammond.

If Argosy buys the Joliet property, riverboat users probably would not notice dramatic changes, though the Empress name might be altered to include Argosy.

Binion, whose family is legendary in Las Vegas, bought Empress Casinos in Joliet and Hammond in the fall of 1999.

N.Y. will now require legislative approval

A state judge ruled last week that deals allowing new Indian casinos in New York are illegal because they were negotiated without legislative approval.

The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce sued the state along with anti-gambling groups.

The compacts were invalidated as several tribes are pursuing possible agreements that would lead to casinos being built in the Catskill Mountains just north of New York City, a move that could drain business from casinos in neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut.

Donald Trump, who has vigorously fought Indian-gaming initiatives in New York, helped fund the plaintiffs’ suit. He called Wednesday’s decision a victory for Atlantic City, because any Indian casino would now require legislative approval.

Casino commission drawing up regulations

New Jersey casino regulators took the first step last week toward establishing a "self-exclusion list’’ that would allow problem gamblers to ban themselves from casinos.

In a 5-0 vote, the state Casino Control Commission approved regulations for publication in the New Jersey Register. A public hearing will be June 7 and public comment will be accepted through June 20.

Under the regulations, anyone wishing to be banned from casinos would have to provide his or her name, date of birth, address, telephone number and a physical description.

Casinos would be prohibited from taking bets from self-excluded gamblers, and should deny casino credit, check-cashing privileges, player club memberships or complimentary gift giving. Photographs of the person would be given to each casino.

In addition, casinos would have to delete the person’s name from any mailing lists or marketing program materials.

Tropicana staging torture exhibit

The Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City will stage an exhibit called "Torture Through the Ages."

From the Spanish Inquisition, when thousands were tortured and killed under the most barbaric of interrogation practices, to the atrocities of the Holocaust, the exhibit reveals a disturbing side of human behavior.

Tropicana chose "Torture Through the Ages" after reaping success with two other exhibits seemingly incongruous with casinos: "Titanic: The Artifacts" and "Dresses of Diana, Princess of Wales."

The Trop exhibit will feature such torturing classics as the guillotine, stretching rack, iron maiden, knee splitter, chastity belt, hanging cage, interrogation chair, heretic’s fork and dunking chair. There’s also a replica of the first electric chair.

Alabama to limit gaming machines

A proposed bill in Alabama to close large-scale video gaming operations would effectively shut down establishments with many gaming machines by limiting such businesses to four units and by outlawing video poker altogether.

But the bill would allow machines at the state’s four dog tracks and allow them to pay off in cash, not just redeemable coupons.

The machines at dog tracks would be taxed 15 percent and proceeds would go into a fund to be used to prevent future cuts in the education budget.

Foxwoods releases sequel to its popular commercial

Foxwoods Resort Casino last week broke the follow-up to its commercial "The Wonder of It All," again featuring New York-based jazz guitarist and vocalist John Pizzarelli.

Through the use of location shooting and special effects, "Meet Me At Foxwoods" portrays a travel and casino experience in a film style similar to what has customarily been found in television spots for top-quality tourism destinations, luxury hotels, cruise lines and theme parks.

Part reprise and part sequel, the musical production delivers fresh images of Foxwoods’ guests enjoying the wide variety of entertainment opportunities at the resort casino, balanced with scenes of Pizzarelli and his trio knocking out the swinging melody.

"We’re restaging a campaign that we know works," said Marty Kramer, director of advertising for Foxwoods (located in Mashantucket, Conn.). "It has legs and staying power. But after two years we wanted to come back with a new approach that would push the genre even further in terms of production values and excitement."

The new spot was created and produced by Trahan, Burden & Charles (TBC), a full-service advertising and public relations agency based in Baltimore, which created the original commercial for Foxwoods.

The commercial, which has a 60-second and two 30-second versions, will air throughout New England and the New York metropolitan region. A print campaign will follow later this year.

Break occurs in casino thefts case

A break in the thefts from casino accounts case at the Mashantucket Pequot Foxwoods Resort Casino occurred last week.

Several high-roller slot players had discovered thefts from their casino accounts last month, but investigators could not determine who was responsible.

But the break came when a 38-year-old woman used a casino-issued "wampum card" to gain access to one of the accounts to buy $5,000 worth of clothing, jewelry, perfume and cigarettes in a casino store.

An electronic alarm had been attached to the account, and a clerk notified authorities after the alert flashed across the store’s checkout terminal.

The suspect, Diwantie Gonzalez of the Bronx, N.Y., was charged with second-degree larceny, second-degree forgery and criminal impersonation. She was released on a $2,000 bond for an appearance in New London Superior Court April 24.

Authorities have not determined whether the card used by Gonzalez was an original or a duplicate.

Gonzalez told investigators she got the card from an unidentified Asian man. She had false identification to match the card.

Three acts scheduled this week

The entertainment schedule for next week at Foxwoods’ Fox Theater is:

Lonestar, 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Billy Idol, 9 p.m. on Friday.

JOE, 9 p.m. on Saturday.

Don Rickles, 9 p.m. on April 27-28.

Kenny Rogers, 9 p.m. on May 4, and 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on May 5.

Rodney Dangerfield with Harry Basil, 9 p.m. on May 12.

Little Feat, 7 p.m. on May 24.