Mass exodus: State losing $ to neighboring casinos

Aug 14, 2001 1:21 AM

Massachusetts residents are spending an estimated $820 million annually on slots and other games of chance at neighboring Connecticut and Rhode Island facilities.

Deloitte & Touche, a leading accounting, tax and consulting firm, reported that approximately $195 million in revenues were going to the Connecticut and Rhode Island state governments.

A proposed gaming and entertainment complex in southeastern Massachusetts could recapture $840 million annually in lost revenues and create 9,000 full-time jobs, the report stated. The jobs would have little or no impact on the state lottery.

The Wampanoag Native American Indian Tribe of Gay Head has proposed to build the $480 million privately funded facility, which would create 3,800 full-time construction-related jobs over a 24 to 36 month period.

The consulting firm said an analysis of 27 new gaming facilities in 15 states showed that lotteries, on average, experience about a one percent decline in annual revenue growth.

The Wampanoag Tribe, has entered into a joint venture with the Tunica Biloxi Tribal Nation of Louisiana to study the feasibility of developing a 100 percent Native American-owned gaming and entertainment facility in southeastern Massachusetts.

“Since 1988, the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act has empowered federally recognized Native American Indian tribes to own and operate gaming and entertainment centers,” said Jeffery Madison, a Wampanoag Tribal Council member. “We believe the Deloitte & Touche study clearly demonstrates that the Wampanoag Tribe, the Commonwealth and the people of Massachusetts all stand to benefit greatly for the development and operation of a single facility in Southeastern Massachusetts.”

NYRA approves VLTs

The New York Racing Association Board of Trustees approved having video lottery terminals at Belmont and Aqueduct.

The plan has to be approved by both the State Legislature and Gov. George Pataki to take effect.

NYRA omitted Saratoga Race Course from the proposal, citing that the tradition and character of the site would be altered. The Saratoga Chamber of Commerce was opposed to the addition of slots.

“Six months ago, I didn’t think we would get a chance at (VLTs) in New York,” said Barry Schwartz, NYRA chief executive officer and chairman of the board. “As time goes by, they seem more and more likely.”

Bill Nader, senior vice president of NYRA, said that Saratoga Race Course was never considered for the proposed slot terminals.

“When you think of the size of the facility and the crowds, there’s just no place to put them without ruining the landscape of the Saratoga Race Course,” Nader said. “Saratoga is a racing icon and we recognize how important it is to racing. Some of the revenues from Belmont and Aqueduct would flow to Saratoga for improvements.”

The VLTs would provide Belmont and Aqueduct with the purses necessary to remain competitive with other tracks in the country.

Poker crackdown

A new Georgia task force announced in Atlanta last week the confiscation of more than 100 video poker machines in July.

Video gambling on coin-operated machines can only legally make payout in coupons for merchandise available in the store where the machines are located. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation set up a task force in order to check out and arrest operators using the games illegally.

Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor said the task force was used to calm fears that HOPE scholarships will suffer from competition for gamblers. HOPE is funded by the Georgia Lottery, the only legal form of gambling for cash in the state.

Video poker has been a particularly hot issue in northeast Georgia, stemming from before Republican State Sen. Mike Beatty championed a bill to ban the machines.

OTB in homestretch

Voters in Johnston County, Okla. are being asked whether to allow off-track wagering on horse races simulcast to a betting parlor.

If the vote on the Oct. 9 election ballot is approved, the entrepreneur would be Gary Shipman and Sundowner Sports Arena. Shipman owns the arena and several race horses in the rural Oklahoma community of Coleman.

The horse racing simulcasts are viewed as a way to counter the slowdown of arena bookings during the summer. Shipman helps sponsor rodeo events and would like to set up racing simulcasts with other state tracks at Remington Park, Blue Ribbon Downs and Fair Meadows.

More TLC for GTECH

The Texas Lottery Commission and GTECH will begin talks to continue their long-standing association.

The two groups have been handling lottery operations and services for the state’s integrated online and instant-ticket games since 1992.

GTECH is a leading global information technology company, which provides over $1 billion in revenues and 4,700 people in 44 countries. Texas Lottery, one of the largest in the world in total sales, has generated over $26.3 billion since 1992.

Trump’s kind of town

Donald Trump has found that Chicago is his kind of town.

The New York entrepreneur flew to the Chicago area for a groundbreaking ceremony for a new $39 million parking garage he is building at the Majestic Star Casino in the nearby Gary, Ind.

Trump has built a 300-room hotel and worked with Gary officials to land the Miss USA Pageant since launching the casino boat in 1996.

Plans are in the works for Trump to fund the building of a luxury condominium and skyscraper, possibly the world’s tallest building, in Chicago. However, Trump denied reports he is trying to lobby for casino gambling in Chicago’s Loop.

“Chicago does not need casino gambling right now,” he said. “The city is booming right now.”

On the other hand, Gary was hurting economically before gaming dollars were injected to build up the lakeshore and redevelop the city’s infrastructure.

Coast bid too late

Maritz, Wolff & Co. was selected as the preferred opening bidder for the bankrupt Regent Las Vegas.

A bankruptcy court judge turned down an 11th-hour $82 million cash bid from Coast Resorts and accepted the initial offer of $80 million from the Los Angeles-based hotelier

Judge Robert Jones said there was not enough time to conduct similar checks of the Coast offer, while meeting Thursday’s deadline for an opening bid. The Summerlin hotel-casino will be sold at a Sept. 25 court auction.

Lanis O’Steen, chief restructuring officer at Regent Las Vegas, is hopeful that several bids of at least $83 million will be made in the coming weeks.

Reno casino okayed

Reno’s newest neighborhood casino received unanimous approval to receive a state gaming license to begin operating as early as September.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board voted 3-0 to grant a license to Tamarack Junction, a $16 million, slots-only casino approximately 10 miles south of downtown Reno.

The 23,000-square foot casino is about one-third the size of Boulder Station in Las Vegas. The Gaming Commission is scheduled to consider the casino’s license request Aug. 23.