Gaming no longer Maine objective in Kittery this year

Mar 19, 2002 6:25 AM

The Southern Maine town of Kittery, which looked to be in line for a major casino development, has tabled its plans until next year.

“I don’t think we need to wait for economic studies to show that casino gambling is bad for Kittery,” resident Matt Brock said during a Town Council meeting last Thursday.

Maine’s Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Indians were focusing on land in the town to build a casino and resort, which would be located about 50 miles from Boston.

Gov. Angus King, who leaves office after this year, is opposed to casino gaming in Kittery. The tribes may bring the issue back to the table next year when a new administration is in power.

A casino and entertainment complex in Maine could generate up to about $100 million in state taxes, according to Town Councilor Dennis Estes.

Estes believes the facility could bring in anywhere from $2 million to $4 million.

R.I. wants casinos

Casino gaming received a boost in Rhode Island with a poll showing that 82 percent of likely voters coming out in favor of a referendum for an Indian casino on the November ballot.

Of the people taking part in the survey, 65 percent “strongly” favored a referendum on the November ballot. Just 12 percent said they were somewhat opposed or strongly opposed to statewide gambling.

The results of the poll were announced last Tuesday, as a move was in the works to appoint a legislative commission to study gaming in Rhode Island, a step that would delay a casino decision for a year or more.


Isle of Capri sells

The Isle of Capris Casinos Inc., has decided to sell its Tunica County property in Mississippi.

The casino is one of 10 in ­­Tunica, which had reportedly been talked about as a site for an 11th gaming site.

Company officials have not made a profit since Isle of Capri entered the Tunica market in July 1999. The news comes three years after the company bought a former Harrah’s casino and spent about $33.5 million to renovate the casino and add a 235-room hotel and two theaters.

The Tunica market has seen about $3.5 billion in development and 16,000 jobs created since 1992.

Choctaws retreat

Much like the situation in Maine, the Choctaw Indians of Mississippi are withdrawing plans for a reservation and casino in Tishomingo County.

Jena Band tribal council member Jerry Jackson confirmed that his tribe has withdrawn its application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to establish a reservation in Northeast Mississippi county.

“We started with the Mississippi Choctaws as a joint adventure with that tribe in Philadelphia,” Jackson said. “They pulled out and left us alone. Of course, we arranged all the ­­financing.”


Laughlin divided

Laughlin is in the midst of an ideological struggle to determine how to approach attracting visitors to its casinos.

Andre Carrier, CEO and vice president of the Golden Nugget Laughlin, said that years of low room rates and food prices in addition to catering to the older customer base isn’t increasing profits.

Carrier believes that resort operators are finding it difficult to raise the people’s perception of the area being more than a hot place in the Nevada desert for the elderly.

Carrie Jorgensen, director of marketing for the Ramada Express takes the opposite view.

“One thing that makes us different is we want to be a mature adult destination,” Jorgensen said. “Every casino has their marketing plan. Our niche happens to be the 55 and older crowd.

Portland pushing

Hood River could be a site for a second casino that would bring in millions of dollars to the Portland area.

Members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs will vote this spring on the measure. A second casino accessible to Portland could bring in $13 and $15 million and employ about 800 people.

Tribal officials said they are feeling pressure to find new revenue.

Purses cut in Iowa

An Iowa racetrack is close to cutting purses for the 2003 season by one-third due to dwindling profits.

“I think we’re close,” said Gary Lucas, a member of the Racing Association of Central Iowa, which operates Prairie Meadows. “There’s a lot of disagreement on how we get there, but I think we agree on the gist of it.”

Prairie Meadows offered $1.2 million in purses prior to having slot machines. Purses mushroomed to $10.8 million in 1997 and will peak at $20 million this year.


Slots at Ky tracks supported

A committee in the Kentucky state House of Representatives approved a bill last Wednesday that would allow slot machines at eight pari-mutuel racetracks.

The 8-2 vote in favor of the bill means that the bill could reach the full House floor by the middle of next week. Thoroughbred tracks are projected to eventually benefit by an additional $715 million in revenues annually.

Kentucky’s Legislature will adjourn in a little more than two weeks. While support seems to be growing for the bill in the 100-seat House, opposition is stronger in the 38-seat Senate.