NJ Gaming allows Don to cash Trump card

Jan 21, 2003 12:33 AM

FROM GT STAFF / WIRE REPORTS

The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has given its blessing to Donald Trump.

The state’s top gaming job will allow Trump’s casino company to sell $475 million in replacement debt, according to a Press of Atlantic City report.

Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. carries $1.9 billion in debt, most of it junk bonds with interest rates above 11 percent. The company spends 80 percent of its operating cash flow on interest payments and is absent from the citywide $1.8 billion expansion boom.

The $475 million in bonds would be used to refinance debt backed by the Trump Marina and Trump Indiana casinos. There is approximately $312 million due in 10 months.

Trump Marina capped an otherwise excellent year with a drop in fourth-quarter results, according to the company.

"Potential investors are going to be extremely happy with the results of the company," Trump said. "The results have been spectacular, as you can see. The buildings have been doing very well and I’m very proud of the job we’ve done."

Catskills looking good

Although casinos are not yet in the upstate New York mountain region, the behind the scenes signs are promising.

Gov. George Pataki sent a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs supporting the St. Regis Mohawks? plans for a casino at Kutsher’s. The two-page single-spaced letter is the state’s first official backing of the project and proof that the approval process is nearing the end.

"I strongly support casinos in the Catskills, and Sullivan County in particular as an essential element in the economic revitalization of the region," Pataki wrote.

The projected numbers show that a casino at Kutsher’s would create at least 4,000 jobs, amass up to $140 million worth in economic benefits to the region and draw 5.9 million visitors per year.

Pataki noted that the 66-acre property would become Indian land, which would not be taxed. The tribe has agreed to pay Sullivan County $15 million per year for its impact on traffic, schools and compulsive gambling.

Davis open to deals

California Gov. Gray Davis said last week he would consider expanding Indian gaming this spring to entice tribes to generate $1.5 billion per year for the state budget.

"I would not be rigidly opposed to lifting the cap if the need for doing it could be established, and if that need was shared by the local communities in which the tribe is located," Davis told the Sacramento Bee.

While states are not allowed to tax Indian gaming, they can develop revenue-sharing agreements. Connecticut and New York take up to 25 percent from tribal gaming.

California did not seek to cash in at those levels when the state’s compacts were drafted in 1999. Tribes running more than 200 slots each agreed to pay the state about seven percent of net revenues, according to the Bee article.

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