Hawaii Five-KenO: 50th state may take a gamble

January 29, 2002 3:35 AM
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There is still hope for building a major resort casino in Hawaii, if Howard Kerzner has his way.

The Sun International Hotels Ltd. President has spent the last two weeks lobbying lawmakers in Hawaii for an exclusive gaming license, according to a Las Vegas Sun report.

The 37 year old Kerzner said his company builds casino resorts that are “larger than life and blow away the customers.”

Sun International would like to equal the success of its Atlantis casino resort built 10 years ago in the Bahamas. The company spent $1.1 billion on Atlantis, constructing water slides, lagoons, grottos, waterfalls and the world’s largest open-air aquarium.

Kerzner would like to spend $800 million to build a Hawaiian version of Atlantis next to one of the Ko’Olina lagoons on Oahu.

Sun International is proposing to pay the state $100 million for an exclusive, 20 year gambling license to build a 1,500-room resort casino.

Kerzner is the son of Sol Kerzner, best known in Las Vegas for his failed effort to acquire the Desert Inn from then-owner Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

The proposed casino for Hawaii could take years to finalize. Atlantis was a 10 year wait.

N.Mexico pro gaming

The governor and attorney general of New Mexico have asked that a lawmaker’s challenge to the state’s new gambling agreements with Indian tribes be rejected.

The State Supreme Court had asked state officials to reply in writing this week to a lawsuit filed in December by Rep. George Buffett, R-Albuquerque.

The suit contends that the Legislature should have passed a bill changing the law, which the governor would then have had to sign.

The 1999 Compact Negotiation Act provides a separate, alternate process for enacting new compacts. Attorney Gen. Patricia Madrid said the agreements were properly reached.

East
Another Mohegan

Sullivan County (N.Y.) finalized a 12 page contract with its second Indian tribe and development company to build a casino in the Catskills along the lines of Mohegan Sun in neighboring Connecticut.

The county could receive $105 million over seven years in the pact with the Stockbridge  Mohicans from Wisconsin and the Trading Cove development team.

The contract is similar to the $15 million per year agreement the county signed with the St. Regis Mohawks and Park Place last November. The resort could be ready by 2004.

Tunnel-vision

Atlantic City (N.J.) officials are hopeful that a new casino will boost travel and earnings from the new 2.5 mile tunnel that connects the Expressway with the Marina.

The MGM Mirage casino company financed one-third of the $330 million project. Charter bus traffic to Atlantic City was down 11.4 percent last year, reflecting a 28 percent slide in September.

Midwest
Wanting silence

The Texas Attorney General’s Office is trying to speed up the process for closure of Speaking Rock Casino, located near El Paso. Issuing the mandate before the February 7 deadline would return jurisdiction of the case to the U.S. District Court in El Paso, enabling it to enforce the September 27 ruling to shut down the facility

The Tigua Tribe plans to oppose any attempt to shorten the process, vowing to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Riverboat record

The Argosy Casino, docked in Lawrenceburg, Ind., recorded a December attendance record of 619,254 admissions, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission.

The strong showing marked the third straight year that Argosy had topped the seven million plateau in attendance.

South
Casino hopes sink

South Carolina again had a planned casino boat stopped by legislation.

This time the site was Little River, north of Myrtle Beach. Circuit Court Judge John Breeden Jr. reversed an earlier ruling stating that an Horry County zoning ordinance was unconstitutional.

Zoning laws state that casino boats cannot dock within 2,000 feet of a residential district.

Magic goes Boom

Casino Magic will be changing its name on July 4 to Boomtown in order to align more of Pinnacle’s properties under one name.

The resorts will also receive $25 million in capital improvement to the local riverboat casino in Bossier City, La. The name change is part of the plan to refurbish the Bossier City site, which opened in October 1996.

Other planned work includes remodeling the pavilion and steakhouse, expanding the buffet and building an 800 seat entertainment facility.