Surprise: Reid will not block casino demand in Bay Area

Oct 17, 2001 1:21 AM

Nevada Sen. Harry Reid withdrew an amendment to block a plan to develop an American Indian casino near San Francisco, according to a Las Vegas Review-Journal article.

The Democrat reached an agreement with Rep. George Miller, D-Calif. that would allow the Lytton band of Pomo Indians to obtain 10 acres in San Pablo to convert a card room into a Las Vegas-style casino.

Reid, who was at first opposed to the plan, changed his position in exchange for a guarantee that Miller and the Indian tribe comply with the procedures of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for the Bay Area and future tribal casinos.

The deal ended a 10-month battle between tribal gambling interests and the northern Nevada casino industry over the San Pablo project.

Philadelphia sports entrepreneur Sam Katz represents more than 20 investors in the San Pablo casino. Both Katz and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., had been opposed to Reid’s position prior to the Nevada senator’s surprise declaration.

California-based lawyer Tony Cohen, who represents the 220-member Lytton band of Pomo Indians, welcomed the agreement. Cohen acknowledged that the tribe still needed to meet with California Gov. Gray Davis to negotiate a compact.

Shot down in Montana

The Montana Heritage Commission has stopped a proposal to allow businesses operating out of state-owned historic buildings in Virginia City to have gambling machines.

“It’s off the table,” commission executive director Jeff Tiberi told the Billings (Mont.) Gazette.

Tiberi said strong opposition to the idea makes it unlikely that anyone would take the issue to the Legislature.

The proposal had drawn negative response from Virginia City residents, who felt that gambling would detract from the character of the town. Supporters had said that adding casinos would create more profits.

Safe in New Mexico New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson approved seven of 11 agreements with Indian tribes over casino operations and was expected to sign the remaining four, according to a Santa Fe television station report.

Johnson sent the seven agreements to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton for approval. The Mescalero Apache and Pojoaque Pueblo did not agree with the most recent compact reached between the other 11 casino-operating tribes and state attorney general Patricia Madrid.

The 11 tribes had stopped making payments to the state in an effort to force a deal with the state, but owe $91 million in back payments. The Mescaleros and Pojoaques are expected to have their disagreements debated in federal court.

Windsor cuts force

Casino Windsor, Canada’s most dynamic gambling complex, announced it was cutting its workforce by 12 percent, according to a National Post On Line report.

The decision to drop 600 part-time workers was reportedly caused by traffic delays at the Canada-U.S. border and increased competition with Detroit casinos.

Business at Casino Windsor has fallen 45 percent since last month’s terrorist attacks in the U.S. The Canadian casino has lost customers to the three casinos along the Detroit River. Border delays of up to three hours has discouraged 8,000 American gamblers from making the trip to Windsor each day.

Casino Windsor, which opened in 1994, recorded revenue of $734 million last year, its lowest take since 1998.

Gulf Coast support

Resort areas in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle have offered rest and rehab packages for terror relief workers in New York City.

The Gulf Coast casinos in Biloxi, Miss., are organizing a variety of complimentary getaways for emergency workers and others that helped in the New York relief effort.

Amtrak and AirTran have donated roundtrip tickets. Other offerings include hotel rooms in New Orleans’ French Quarter, rounds of golf on several championship courses in Mississippi and Alabama, along with canoe trips in the Panhandle.

Casino resorts and bed-and-breakfast inns, museums and amusement parks also have contributed to the packages.

Online threatened

A new piece of anti-terrorist legislation in the U.S. may adversely affect the online gaming industry, According to

Rep. James Leach of Iowa re-introduced a bill last February that would prohibit the use of cards, electronic fund transfers and checks as payment methods for online wagering. The bill was added late last week as a section to a terrorism bill under the premise that online gambling sites could be used to launder money.

The federal government has taken several steps over the past few weeks to freeze terrorist assets in the country. Rep. Michael Oxley of Ohio introduced “The Federal Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001” as part of this effort.

The bill threatening online gaming has received support from representatives of the FBI and Department of Justice, but gambling industry experts have questioned the effectiveness of the proposed legislation.

No quotas

A U.S. District Court judge banned the New Jersey Casino Control Commission from enforcing some of its affirmative action provisions.

Judge Stephen Orlofsky ruled that the casinos intention to establish quotas for hiring women and minorities was unconstitutional. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by a former Tropicana pit boss, who was fired after 18 years of service, claiming he was passed over for promotion due to the casino’s affirmative action program.

Casinos are urged by the state of New Jersey to make up to 25 percent of their hires minorities and up to 46 percent women, depending on the job category. The state has never punished a casino for not reaching those goals.