Brown signs with Senecas

September 03, 2002 9:19 AM
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The man who was so influential in making Foxwoods Resort the success that it became has been chosen to guide the Seneca Nation of Indians in the development of the Niagara Falls Convention and Civic Center.

Mickey Brown, the former chief executive officer of the casino built in Connecticut by the Mashantucket Pequot Indians, has been named CEO of the new Seneca Niagara Falls Gaming Corp. He will be responsible to oversee the design, construction, opening and operation of the Seneca Casino in the Niagara Falls project.

A former regulator with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Brown has been credited with blending the wishes of the Pequots and the budgetary needs of the State of Connecticut in creating the agreement that permitted Foxwoods to install slot machines. The original gaming compact involved all forms of gaming except slots.

As Brown tells the story, he was having dinner one night in a Connecticut restaurant when he noticed a dismayed aide to Gov. Lowell Weicker at another table. When asked why he was so glum, the aide said he had just left the governor who was completely frustrated in finding ways to balance the state’s budget, a constitutional requirement.

Brown was told that the deficit would run about $100 million. Gambling on his understanding of the gaming market, Brown came up with the idea for the casino to have exclusive rights to the operation of slot machines and for the Indians to share the proceeds with the state.

Just in case the state’s 25% cut fell short of the budget’s needs, Brown said the Pequots would guarantee that the state would be paid its $100 million annually. In other words, he said, the state would get its 25% share or $100 million per year, whichever was larger.

The aide was overwhelmed! He ran to a telephone and passed along the offer to Gov. Weicker who immediately accepted.

The deal continues to this day except for one modification. The Pequots agreed to modify the agreement to permit its neighbors the Mohegan Tribe to offer slots at its casino as long as it too paid the 25% tax to the state.