S.C. Senate figures to harpoon casino boat ban

Feb 26, 2002 5:51 AM


The South Carolina Senate figures to have the upper hand in stopping a House vote to ban casino boats.

The bill, which passed the State House this week by a 79-21 vote, would eliminate so-called cruises to nowhere. The ban is aimed at stopping gambling ships from leaving South Carolina ports to sail three miles offshore into international waters and allow passengers to play video poker machines.

The bill wouldn’t end the casino boat industry altogether, but would limit its ability to make money as easily. Boats could not sail out into open waters without a destination and allow gambling.

Rep. Chip Campsen authored the bill, which he has pushed for three years. Several times he has seen it pass legislation in the House, only to die in the State Senate. The same scenario could happen again.

“Once we passed the lottery, all that anti-gambling stuff went out the window,” said State Sen. Robert Ford. “That’s not going anywhere over here (in the Senate).”

One senator can kill a bill, and if Ford doesn’t, Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell has repeatedly vowed to block the measure.

Boyd loses casino

The Louisiana Gaming Control Board suspended the license of a Boyd Gaming property, citing violations of rules dealing with the handling of cash.

“The crux of the problem is that our business has been greater than we ever imagined,” said Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stilwell.

State police closed the doors at the 1,500-machine Delta Downs casino in Vinton. Boyd Gaming said 5,000 to 7,000 customers visited the casino in its first day of operation.

Tiguas selling slots

The Tiguas have started selling more than 1,000 slot machines that once brought in millions every month for the tribe.

The tribe is selling slots at a time when other “game rooms” are opening around El Paso. Tigua Gov. Albert Alvidrez said the tribal council and casino management decided to sell an unspecified number of machines after last week’s court-ordered shutdown.

“Gambling exists in Texas, and continues in Texas,” Alvidrez said. “We are prepared to change the law next legislative session. Gaming exists in other Native American communities, and it is an issue we will take before the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Grant Wilson, who sells Las Vegas-type games, such as slot machines in the United States and overseas, said the price for used machines can be from $300 to $1,500.

Foes fight Iowa

Gambling opponents started a campaign to shut down Prairie Meadows (Iowa) Racetrack and Casino, but they acknowledge that the battle is definitely uphill.

The clergy-based group is focusing on a Nov. 5 referendum in Polk County to determine whether to renew Prairie Meadows casino gaming license.

“I believe that if Jesus Christ were living today, he would be at this meeting and he would be involved in this battle,” said Pastor John Palmer of First Assembly of God Church in Des Moines. “Because Jesus cares about the lives and souls of the men and women who are being ruined by gambling.”

Catskill casino closer

The St. Regis Mohawks are moving closer to opening the first casino in New York’s Catskill Mountains.

The tribe, which wants to run a casino at Kutsher’s Sports Academy, is studying a settlement offer of its land claim against the state. The claim must be settled before the Mohawks can cut a deal with the state for a casino.

The land claim includes 14,000 acres near the Canadian border, along with an island that is home to a huge power plant.

Trop goes mammoth

Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino and Resort has booked a 20,000-year-old woolly mammoth beginning March 23 and running through May 28.

“I think it’s going to bring in customers and it’s going to keep customers longer,” Tropicana spokeswoman Maureen Siman said. “Folks that typically may come in for a couple of hours, it will hold them here. If you’re traveling to Atlantic City and not necessarily coming to Tropicana, it may bring you in here.

Tickets will be $4.95 for adults and $3.95 for seniors and children. The featured area is a re-creation of an ice cave that houses a 23-ton permafrost block encasing a 20,000-year-old woolly mammoth found in Siberia.

No dice on expansion

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber rejected a Republican proposal to increase state revenue for schools by expanding video poker with slot machine games.

“Educate a child, create an addict. I don’t think that’s good public policy for Oregon,” the governor said.

The video slots idea would help close the gap in future state budgets, according to Senate President Gene Derfler, who had projected that video slots would bring in some $32 million for the current budget and $66 million in 2003-05.