There she isn’t: Atlantic City could lose its pageant

Dec 24, 2001 12:50 AM


Atlantic City is famous for gaming and Miss America, but that may soon change.

The legendary beauty pageant, a staple in Atlantic City since 1921, may be moving its locale from the Convention Center to Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino-resort.

“We have been speaking to them and we have gotten into fairly deep conversations,” said Mitchell Etess, Mohegan Sun’s executive vice president of marketing.

Miss America pageant CEO Robert Renneisen said the nation’s most famous beauty contest is losing money at Atlantic City and will need nearly $1 million from the state of New Jersey to keep operating at the seaside resort.

Renneisen said pageant officials are considering offers from Florida, California, Las Vegas and Connecticut

Pageant officials have been negotiating with the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for two years to keep the event from moving.

The pageant receives around $550,000 in ticket sales from New Jersey and is credited for labor costs, which are estimated at about $680,000.

Etess said Mohegan’s 34-story, 1,200-room luxury hotel that opens next April could house contestants, and the overflow crowd would likely stay at hotels throughout the region.

Kutshers countdown

Land trust application is all that stands in the way of federal approval for a casino at Kutsher’s Sports Academy in Montecello, N.Y.

The Mohawks filed an application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs last month to build a $500 million resort casino around the banks of Anawana Lake in the Catskills. Park Place officials want to break ground next year and have the casino completed and open in 2004.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said that the Bureau would rely on elements of the Mohawk’s previously approved application for a gaming casino at Monticello Raceway to speed up the process.

Sullivan County negotiated a $15 million per year compensation deal for the tax-free casino.

Ontario revenue up

The addition of new gambling venues, along with a busy summer season, resulted in record revenues for Ontario casinos.

The Canadian province reported gross revenues from casinos, charity casinos and racetrack slot operations at more than $890 million for the three months ending in Sept. 11. The figure represents a 6.3 percent increase from the previous quarter and 8.7 percent more than at the period last year.

“All of our sites are going well,” said Jim Cronin, spokesman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission.

Nearly 19,000 patrons per day gamble at charity casinos in Sault Ste Marie, Brantford, Point Edward, Thunder Bay and Great Heron. The slow resurgence of Casino Windsor has seen 60 of 687 laid-off employees rehired.

Detroit rebounds

Revenues at the three major Detroit casinos increased over the numbers recorded from last November.

MGM Grand Detroit Casino brought in the most money last month, maintaining a lead it has held over MotorCity and Greektown. MGM made approximately $32.6 million, a 14 percent increase from this time last year.

MotorCity was next at $31.5 million, while Greektown took in $27.2 last month.

Casino officials would not comment on whether the events of Sept. 11 prompted gamblers to stay in Detroit and away from crossing the border to neighboring Casino Windsor in Ontario.

Texas loves casino

Louisiana gaming officials said that a casino opened by the Alabama-Coushatta tribe in Livingston, Texas is doing brisk business.

The 24-hour casino, called the Alabama-Coushatta Entertainment Center, has 280 slot machines, five blackjack tables and one poker Âí­table.

The Livingston casino is the third in operation in Texas, joining the Speaking Rock in El Paso and the Lucky Eagle in Eagle Pass.

The state’s newest casino is located 90 miles north of Houston.

L.A. controversy

Los Angeles-area Indians are seeking federal recognition as a tribe, but other tribes across California are skeptical about the motive.

The L.A. tribes say they have no interest in starting a casino, but rival Indian groups believe the recognition drive originated when the possibilities for gambling became more apparent.

“What they want is another recognition of a tribal association in a metropolitan area which lends itself to tribal gaming,” said Valerie Brown, a former state lawmaker.

California has 108 federally recognized tribes.