Trump card: Mogul will sue NY to stop Indian casinos

Aug 28, 2001 1:10 AM


Donald Trump told a New York radio station that he would sue the state if the Seneca Indians were permitted to build casinos.

The entrepreneur and casino mogul has long opposed opening the door to more gambling in New York State. Trump Hotel & Casino Resorts Inc., owned by Trump, has around 30 percent of the gambling market in Atlantic City, N.J.

In an effort to protect his Atlantic City investments, Trump helped fund the New York Institute of Law and Society’s campaign against the Catskills casino project the St. Regis Mohawks wanted to build. The Seneca Indians also want an upstate casino.

Trump argued that a Catskills casino would damage New York City’s economy by draining off dollars.

“I have much bigger interest in New York than I have in Atlantic City, because I’m the largest developer in New York City,” Trump said. “New York City is far more important to me in that sense, from an economic standpoint, and honestly, New York City would be very, very severely hurt if they had casinos going up in the Catskills.”

The St. Regis Mohawk tribe plans to ignore Trump and will send representatives to meet with Gov. George Pataki to discuss the planned project at Kutshers Country Club, outside of Monticello. The Mohawks are working with Park Place Entertainment on the deal.

“We don’t feel intimidated by Donald Trump or anyone else opposed to the development of a casino resort in Sullivan County,” tribal spokeswoman Rowena General said. “We couldn’t have gone this far without the necessary political support.”

Mohegan is pumped

The gas station at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun Casino is dispensing more fuel than any station in the state and possibly all of New England.  

The station is pumping about 725,000 gallons of gasoline per month. Michael J. Fox, executive director of the State Gasoline and Automotive Service Deals of America, said that the 1,000 stations in Connecticut pump a monthly average of 135,000 gallons or nearly six times less.

The Mohegan tribe pays all federal and state taxes when it buys the gasoline and sells it for five cents above market price. Mohegan Sun officials plan to add another station on the reservation and expect to double the volume of gas sold to $1.5 million gallons a month.

Louisiana blues

Louisiana State Police reported that gambling revenues at Harrah’s New Orleans Casino were down 9.4 percent from July 2000.

The $21.2 million gamblers left at the casino last month was below the $22.9 won by one of the state’s riverboats, the Horseshoe Casino in Shreveport. The land-based New Orleans casino has three times more gambling space than the riverboat.

Louisiana lawmakers had granted a huge tax cut to the gambling hall to head off the casino’s second bankruptcy in five years. Harrah’s stated that changes were being made to turn the New Orleans situation around.

Miss gaming a hit

The 30 regulated casinos in Mississippi posted the best month in what has been a less-than-spectacular year.

The casino brought in $254.1 million in gross revenue for July, a two-percent rise. The 12 casinos along the coast posted a three percent gain in gross revenue compared to July 2000. The Mississippi River casinos were up less than one percent.

Biloxi-based Isle of Capri Casinos, blaming the sluggish economy, reported an earnings decline of more than 40 percent for the three-month period ending July 29. Aggressive spending on marketing was credited with the overall gain across the state.

Slots not okay in OK

A federal judge in Oklahoma ordered the stoppage of electronic machines that resemble slots.

The Shawnee Tribe in Norman plans to appeal the decision that ruled against a proposed 48,000-square foot gaming center. The issue is whether the machines in the planned casino are games of skill or chance. Games of chance are illegal in Oklahoma.

Judge Wayne Alley’s order remains in effect until the National Indian Gaming Commission makes a final decision.

Winnebagos won’t budge

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has been unsuccessful in efforts to make the Winnebago Indian tribe raise the minimum age for betting customers from 18 to 21 at its riverboat casino.

State officials said it could take up to five years before negotiations can begin. The casino is located in Sloan, about 20 miles south of Sioux City. American Indian tribes have sovereignty of their land and are not bound by state gambling laws.

The Belle of Sioux City riverboat casino received a $10,000 fine after an underage gambler played slot machines there for nearly an hour last February before being asked to leave. The Commission’s chairman, Bill Hansen, is “guardedly optimistic” that the age limit will be raised.

Indiana backs Binion

Jack Binion, the son of one of Nevada’s earliest casino operators, was able to retain his Indiana gaming license.

The State Gaming Commission voted unanimously Friday to approve the riverboat gaming renewal application for Binion, the CEO of Horseshoe Casino, located in Hammond.

The vote followed a lengthy application process and a detailed review of Horseshoe’s performance since it was first approved for an Indiana license in November 1999. A group of gambling opponents cited an Illinois board report last year that found Binion unable to operate the Joliet riverboat casino purchased in 1999.

Belterra keeps rising

Belterra Casino posted a $9.1 million increase in revenue for July, continuing its rise since opening last October.

The Indiana Gaming Commission said the total gaming revenue market in the state jumped 11 percent compared to July 2000. Numbers at Argosy Casino and Grand Victoria Casino declined.

Argosy and Grand Victoria are Belterra’s major competition.

Full House deal ends

The Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla tribe voted to sever its ties with Full House Resorts Inc. after six years of failed efforts to bring gambling to the tribe’s reservation in California.

Full House, a Las Vegas company, has reported spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on unsuccessful attempts to establish gaming resorts in the Coachella Valley.

“We are not going anywhere right now,” said Mary Belardo, the tribal chairwoman. “I think it is a good time to do it.”

The Torrez-Martinez have short-term plans to build a small casino and truck stop near Highway 86 and Salton Sea. A future casino is planned near Coachella and I-10.