Mohegan’s attitude climbs 34 stories

April 30, 2002 1:37 AM
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The $1.1 billion Sunburst expansion at Mohegan Sun culminated with last week’s opening of the 34-story, 1,200-room glass hotel.

The 30,000 square foot lobby was the final piece of the hotel, which was officially dedicated in ceremonies at the Connecticut resort. Gov. John Rowland, Mohegan Chief Ralph Sturges and Chairman Mark Brown used oversized scissors to unveil the lobby’s reflecting pool.

"Fourteen million visitors a year will be able to come here, have their meetings, rest and be pampered in our facilities," Brown said.

Rowland said of the new hotel, "I guess I can use the term of the commercials and billboards. I look at this facility and say wow."

The opening of the hotel and a 100,000 square foot convention center brings the Mohegan Sun into the same league as Foxwoods, the region’s other American Indian gambling facility.

The hotel has been accepting reservations since January and is booked through the weekend. Room rates will fluctuate with availability, but the average figures to be about $140 a night.

Buffalo anti-casino

Several western New York congressman say a proposed casino in downtown Buffalo would be a bad idea.

"I sure would hate to see a situation where you have gambling in a facility in the heart of downtown Buffalo with retail and restaurants in there too," Rep. John LaFalce, D-N.Y. told the Buffalo News. "Do that and the rest of downtown would shut down."

LaFalce and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, another casino opponent, say they are worried about details of a casino plan by Northstar Development Corp., a potential developer for the proposed Buffalo casino.

The state approved up to a half-dozen Indian-run casinos in legislation passed last fall. The Seneca Indian Nation is slated to vote May 14 on whether to follow through and build the western New York casinos. In addition, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs must approve the plans.

Trump raking bucks

Casino mogul Donald Trump continued his revenue turnaround in Atlantic City after posting his best cash flow ever.

The New York Post reported that Trump’s casino stock hit a new 52-week high of $3.25 on Friday before settling at $3.23. Just five months ago, shares of Trump Hotels & Casino Resort traded at around 83 cents.

Plans are for Trump to sell $470 million in first mortgage notes. Analysts say that investors are glad to see Trump making headway on refinancing $1.9 billion in casino debt, which is dragging down profitable gaming houses.

First quarter cash flow rose 45.9 percent to $74.1 million, a significant rise from last year’s $50.8 million through the first three months.

Harrah’s deal cut

Plans for a 400-room hotel next door to Harrah’s New Orleans Casino would give the owner the tool to be competitive with gaming resorts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

According to the Associated Press, the investor group has 90 days to study the project’s feasibility and line up a hotel operator.

The casino’s owner, JCC Holding Co., would sell the property to The Varna Group for $6.5 million. Varna will build the hotel and obtain a manager.

Several major casino-hotel resorts in Mississippi are thriving, while the New Orleans casino has gone to bankruptcy court twice. If the project is built, Harrah’s would be the only New Orleans-area casino with a hotel. None of the three riverboat casinos operating in the region have a hotel.

More Detroit interest

There is interest in pursuing another casino bid in Detroit.

Detroit businessman Don H. Barden and the Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Indians announced an agreement to bid on a casino license in the Michigan city.

Barden said the recent Sixth Circuit ruling striking down the city’s casino ordinance as unconstitutional, has enhanced current administration’s position with the existing casinos.

"The Lac Vieux tribe pursued their rights under the U.S. Constitution, and while doing so they created an opportunity for myself, Donald Trump and others," Barden said.

Barden operates casinos in Nevada, Mississippi and Colorado along with owning a riverboat casino in Gary, Indiana. Lac Vieux owns a casino and resort in Watersmeet, Mich.

ALSO: The St. Louis Business Journal reported that Argosy Gaming’s first quarter earnings rose 69 percent from this time last year. Revenues were up 43 percent at $243.9 million”¦The Arizona Senate could vote this week on Gov. Jane Hull’s bill to continue casino gaming on the Indian reservations in the state.