Vegas in California could be 670,000 signatures away

Nov 13, 2001 3:14 AM


Las Vegas style gambling all over California  could be 670,000 valid signatures away from becoming possible.

Craig Marlar, a spokesman for an organization known as “The DeVille Group,” said in a San Diego Union-Tribune story that backers have committed $2 million to collect for than one million signatures.

As a constitutional amendment, the initiative needs more than 670,000 valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 2002 ballot.

The initiative would abolish the California Gambling Control Commission, the attorney general’s Division of Gambling Control, the California Horse Racing Board and the State Athletic Commission. It would substitute a new regulatory system modeled after the one in Nevada.

The 39-page proposal would lift restrictions on the number of slot machines permitted statewide and at individual reservations. It also would usher in craps, roulette, Internet gambling, Jai Alai, and all other banking and percentage games, most which are not permitted in the state.

Licenses for full Nevada-style casinos could be issued anywhere in the state, and anyone now holding a state gaming license would have a “vested right” to an unrestricted license. That includes 61 tribes with compacts, more than 100 card clubs and all racetracks in the state.

Coachellas back Trump

The Coachella-area tribal casino in California remains intact despite a gloomy Atlantic City gambling outlook that has Donald Trump reportedly skipping loan payments.

The Desert Sun reports that the agreement between Twenty-Nine Palms Mission Indians and Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts calls for the Atlantic City company to take over management of Spotlight 29 Casino upon the opening of a $60 million expansion in late March.

Trump reportedly has the money for the payments, but wants to restructure the debt to ensure the long-term health of the casinos.

AC loves Popeye

Who said Popeye was outdated?

The legendary Sailor Man has had his option renewed in Atlantic City with the announcement that Bally Gaming Inc. will install up to 100 slot machines in eight casinos.

The games will hit the floors of Resorts Atlantic City and the Sands Hotel & Casino in November. The 5-cent slots include depictions of the muscle-bound good guy beating up Brutus and rescuing Olive Oyl from his clutches.

The New Jersey Casino Control Board voted 5-0 to allow state casinos to offer the game.

RFK Jr blasts gaming

Another Kennedy has sounded the alarm against gambling.

Robert Kennedy Jr. has threatened legal action in New York if casinos are proposed anywhere near the Catskill Mountains, according to a New York Post story.

Kennedy, a lawyer/environmental activist, said the extra traffic and expected development the casinos would bring is a bad gamble for the quality of New York City’s drinking water.

The son of the slain New York senator, said it is crucial for the city’s drinking water that open space be retained and kept free from the pollution casino traffic would bring.

Smoke signals
The Seneca Indians are fuming.

Tribal leaders are using casino expansion as a tool to express their outrage at the New York State legislature’s attempt to sneak cigarette taxes through as part of the deal.

“It might not be until next year,” Seneca President Cyrus M. Schindler said regarding the plan for additional casinos for Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Gambling proponents had hoped to get an Indian casino operating in Western New York by the spring of 2002, but before that can happen it must pass a Seneca Nation referendum and win approval from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Senecas were also upset about the new gambling law that featured unionization of casino workers and liability for lawsuits.

Louisiana on hold

Casino operators are holding off on capital expansion ideas for riverboats in Louisiana due to the soft economy.

According to a Shreveport (La) Times story, September was a deceptively bad month for the 14 operating riverboats in the state and the land-based casino in New Orleans.

The state casino market grew nearly 23 percent over a 12-month period beginning from September 1999. However, from September 2000 to two months ago, the growth rate was half that much.

“I think you can’t discount the general slowing of the economy,” said Jim Wise, corporate marketing director for Hollywood Casinos. “There’s been some extraordinarily large corporate layoffs in the Dallas area. I think it’s thrown a chill over spending in general.”

Tiguas fight court

The Tigua tribe filed a motion in U.S. District Court to keep their casino open in El Paso, during the pending case with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The tribe contends that there will be extensive economic damage if the Speaking Rock Casino is closed. Speaking Rock has 800 employees, including 50 that are tribal members.

The Tiguas are fighting a May 1998 decision signed into law by then Gov. George W. Bush stating that the tribe fell under Texas jurisdiction and not federal. That determination meant that the Tiguas were subject to state investigations and not protected by federal law.

Texas state law states that “all gaming activities are prohibited on the reservations of the tribe.”

Branson not game

City officials and developers of a proposed downtown convention center in Branson (Mo.) said that gambling has never been part of the development’s plan.

Australia-based Jacobsen Entertainment Group was one of the consortium of companies planning the project, according to a story in the Springfield News-Leader.

Branson Landing spokesman Rick Graf said his company “receives no benefit from gambling and is not involved in gambling and is not exposed to gambling risk or reward.”

“Branson is clean, squeaky clean,” said Jim Thomas, a Branson businessman. “We can’t let gambling creep in on us.”