Labor supports planned $600 million Catskill casino

Apr 2, 2002 2:48 AM


The planned $600 million casino in the Catskill Mountains took a major step toward reality after receiving the backing of the Laborers International Union of North America.

The New York State legislature several months ago approved three casinos for the Catskills. The St. Regis Mohawk/Park Place Entertainment casino at Kutsher’s Sports Academy, requires union labor during construction.

Estimates are that the work will require 3,500 workers. Besides construction, more than 15,000 employees will have to staff the giant casinos.

Union leaders expect about 80 percent of the workers to migrate to the Catskills from upstate New York cities Binghamton, Ithaca and Albany. Those cities have experienced a slowdown in construction during the recession.

The St. Regis Mohawk tribe agreed not to oppose efforts by hotel and restaurant employees to unionize.

The approval was confirmed last week in Uncasville, Conn., by Todd DiOrio, representing the Laborers’ International Union of North America. ­­DiOrio was the same developer who built the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville.

Opposing Magna

Magna Entertainment’s planned purchase of Laurel and Pimlico race tracks have drawn opposition from several members of the Maryland Racing Commission.

“We would never approve it, I’ll tell you that,” said Terry Saxon, the commission’s chairman. “I personally would look long and hard after the experience at Gulfstream. Why would Maryland approve an operator that runs a premium racetrack into the ground?

Last month, Maryland Jockey Club officials reportedly rejected an offer from Churchill Downs, Magna’s main rival, to purchase the two tracks. Pimlico and Laurel are still operated by the MJC.

Conn could profit

The five Connecticut towns surrounding the Foxwoods Resort and Mohegan Sun could receive as much as $175 million more in casino impact aid than they received this year if a proposed state budget is passed.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee approved a budget last Tuesday that allowed for host towns to receive only $175,000. That figure was less than what the towns received this year. Speaker of the House Moira Lyons said that this was a mistake.

“We are intent in ensuring that we do the best we can for the casino host towns because of the added expenses they incur for public safety, traffic control and other town services,” she said.

Lyons said the intent was to increase the impact aid, not provide less.


Cornyn not done

State Attorney General John Cornyn, who successfully shut down an El Paso tribal casino is now after another gaming site in east Texas.

Cornyn says the Alabama-Coushatta tribe is breaking a 1986 pledge and federal and state law by operating poker and blackjack tables as well as slot machines.

Scott David Crowell, an attorney for the tribe, stated that the state’s decision in 1991 to allow the state-run lottery opened the door for the tribe to permit gaming.

Wisc may upgrade

Several Wisconsin tribes would like to see longer compacts and more games statewide.

The United Tribes of Wisconsin, citing a recently released study on the economic impact of Indian gaming, proposed that blackjack tables stay open 24 hours a day, that both slot machines and blackjack games boost limits to $200, and that roulette and craps be added.

Indian gaming is currently responsible for 34,870 jobs in Wisconsin.


Ky high on river

Casino gambling in Kentucky received another boost when the Covington Riverfront West said that such a venture could be part of future development.

Developer Bill Butler was in favor of the proposal, but noted that the plan “wouldn’t be more than 15 percent of the scope of the project ­­in terms of the area used and dollars.”

Butler said he is working strictly as a developer and that has taken no position on gambling legislation under consideration in Kentucky. His plan is for a casino complex that includes retail, restaurants and a village, with the possibility of hotels to follow.


Trump 29 upgrading in Cal

The Trump 29 Casino in the Coachella Valley introduced the California site to a blackjack table enhanced with electronic games and a Monopoly-themed bonus round.

The feature is part of a new wave of traditional table games designed to create more excitement for regular card players and attract people who had played the game in the past.

The game plays like traditional blackjack with an added twist, according to Mark Lefever, the casino’s general manager. When players place their original bets, the dealer asks if they would like to place a side bet of $1 to $5. The dealer then dishes cards until a player hits blackjack and enters the bonus round. The player can take a chance and win up to 125 times the original bet.

Mikohn Gaming Corporation introduced the game to the public two years ago in Las Vegas, but only six casinos have installed the tables. Those casinos, according to Mikohn spokesmen, have seen a hold increase of “several percentage points.”