Mayor dials long distance late to save Detroit casino

May 14, 2002 2:02 AM

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick made a last minute call from Dubai to prevent the Detroit City Council from rejecting a deal for permanent casinos.

The question is, for how long?

Five of the nine council members told the Detroit News last Wednesday that they would vote against the agreement, citing that casinos should offer the city a better financial package.

Kilpatrick, who is on a trade mission in the Persian Gulf city of Dubai, said he would attend a council meeting this week to discuss the situation.

"If council is buying into that, I’d be very concerned," said Jake Miklojcik, who heads Michigan Consultants, which has worked on casino development in Detroit and across the nation. "I just don’t think the casinos are going to go a whole lot farther."

The proposed agreement called for 400-room hotels and expanded casinos in downtown Detroit, plus an additional $102 million to be paid to the city over the next two years.

A rejection would be a telling blow to Kilpatrick, who had publicized the fact he had resolved the long-simmering casino dispute. A no vote would, in effect, send the mayor back to square one in figuring out new agreements with MGM Grand, Greektown and Motor City.

Officials from the three casinos had no comment. Temporary permission to run the casinos expires June 15.

Kansas eyes slots

The Kansas Speedway could become a prime site for any legalized gambling that comes to the State.

The Lawrence Journal reported that during the racetrack’s media day last week, officials left no doubt of their desire to see slot machines at five pari-mutuel racetracks and one unspecified at-large site if local voters approved.

The tracks included The Woodlands, featuring horse and dog races. The facility is about five miles from the Speedway.

Jeff Boerger, president of Kansas Speedway, said during last week’s media event, that track officials were neutral on the issue, but saw the proposal as friendly to motorsports. NASCAR and other racing leagues compete in cities with gambling, such as Las Vegas.

CEO blasts tax talk

Thomas Gallagher, chief executive officer of Park Place Entertainment Corp., said any increase in casino taxes could hurt the Mississippi gaming industry.

The Associated Press reported that Gallagher told an audience in Biloxi at the Southern Gaming Summit of his concern about the possibility of higher taxes.

"Since the arrival of dockside casinos August 1992, the gambling industry has spent $4.5 billion on construction and created 33,000 casino jobs with a $1 billion payroll," said Gallagher, whose company owns five of Mississippi’s 31 casinos.

Park Place, based in Las Vegas, employs the equivalent of a city of 9,500 people and pays one-third of the entire tax haul from the Mississippi casinos. A proposed three percent increase in the gross gaming tax failed to pass the Mississippi legislature this year.

Hull may hit voters

Arizona Gov. Jane Hull may go straight to the voters with her Indian gaming bill.

"They (Arizona Indian Gaming Association) are drafting their initiative as we speak," the governor told The Arizona Republic last week. "They spent five weeks in the Senate. Time is running out to get signatures. They are frustrated with the way they’ve been treated. They need to get on with it."

Despite the delays, Hull and the Gaming Association are not abandoning a legislative solution to the new compacts with Arizona’s gaming tribes.

Hull’s plan is to come before the House Ways and Means Committee by the middle of next week. The bill passed the Senate last week.

Senecas on TV blitz

The Seneca tribe is taking their push for casino gambling in New York State to the media.

According to the Buffalo News, the Indians began running television, radio and newspaper ads targeting the 4,561 Senecas who are eligible to vote on the casino referendum.

Senecas on both sides of the issue say voter opinion seems to be split down the middle.

ALSO: Trump Hotels and Casinos Resorts Inc., is splitting its proposed $470 million bond deal with Trump Marina in Atlantic City and Trump Indiana casinos in two parts. According to the Atlantic City Press, Trump is offering investors $340 million in first mortgage notes and $130 in second mortgage ...Idaho voters will vote in November on a gaming bill that would guarantee current tribal gambling operations.


UK geared for resort

The tourism industry has welcomed with open arms Great Britain’s recent decision to relax gambling laws and paving the way for Las Vegas-style casinos, according to TravelAsia.

Plans are underway for the first UK casino resort to be located in Blackpool, a Victorian seaside city found on the northwest coast of England.

Pharoah’s Palace, the planned project, is an Egyptian-styled casino complex that would house a 1,000-room hotel, 100,000 square feet of gaming space, a 40,000 square foot convention center and a 3,000 square foot theatre.

The complex is part of a six-casino vision for Blackpool, which could boost visitor numbers to 30 million within the next 15 years.

"We don’t expect overseas visitors to stay in Blackpool and just gamble," said Leisure Parcs managing director Mart Etches. "It will be part of a bigger tour of the country. The town is ideally paced to explore Scotland and the Lake District."

Other seaside centers, including Bourne-mouth and Brighton as well as large cities are believed to be considering following the lead of Blackpool.

The number of casinos would increase in Great Britain from 118 to 200.

Boston did what?

In a confusing series of acts by the Massachusetts House, a study of casino gambling was approved shortly after rejecting legalized slot machines at race tracks.

The Boston Globe reported that one of the rejected plans would have allowed the state’s two dog tracks to install up to 1,500 slot machines if they agreed to phase out live greyhound racing over five years.

"This is a façade," said Rep. Phillip Travis, a Democratic supporter of casino gambling in Massachusetts.