Marnell Corrao working with tribes on Maine casino

Feb 4, 2003 9:33 AM

Tony Marnell, Jr., and Jay Barrett, the team responsible for the construction and early operation of the Rio Suites Hotel and Casino, are pursuing a Native American casino in York, Maine.

The pair will be working with the Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indian tribes to build a $650 million resort casino should the state decide to enter the gaming arena and to grant the tribes a gaming license.

Thus far, Barrett explained, the Marnell Corrao company, which is involved in building a new tower at the Bellagio Resort and has been chosen to be the general contractor on Steve Wynn’s $2 billion Le Reve resort, does not have a contract with the Maine-located tribes. He said the company has invested about $200,000 in in-kind services, thus far. If the tribes are successful in getting casino approval, they will pay the company for construction, architectural and design services.

Barrett, and Erin Lehane, a tribal spokeswoman, said that letters of agreement exist but that no contract has been executed with either the tribes or the Think About It political action committee.

Barrett, who was CEO of Rio Suites Hotel until the company sold the property to Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. (HET) for $880 million in 1999, is no stranger to the Maine landscape. He purchased a waterfront home in Westport, Maine, in 1990 and his wife, Maureen, is involved in an artist-in-residence program in that community.

Recently, Barrett was quoted as saying, "To me, it’s a wonderful opportunity to capitalize on its (Maine’s) natural resources and its people resources. Maine offers a tremendous opportunity for not only its citizens, but for the rest of the country to enjoy some good, relaxing times."

Let’s start over

The turmoil created by the previous administration in New Mexico regarding the location of a horse track in the town of Hobbs will soon end if the new chairman of the Racing Commission has his way.

Chairman Jack Cole says that he and the other four commissions are in agreement to begin the licensing process all over again in accordance with the wishes of the new governor, Bill Richardson.

That’s good news for Las Vegas entrepreneur Shawn Scott whose previous application for a license in Hobbs was rejected by the former administration. At the time, Scott’s legal team alleged that decision makers were working to help out R.D. Hubbard, owner of Ruidoso Downs, in his bid for the Hobbs track.

Cole said that beginning in March, the commission will hold hearings on the applications of both Scott and Hubbard, as well as that of Ken Newton, former owner of the Downs at Santa Fe.

Trump eyes Chicago

It’s all but a done deal that Donald Trump’s gaming company will join the so-called Crestwood (Ill.) Coalition in seeking the 10th and final gaming license in Illinois.

Yet, over the weekend, Trump admitted that he was looking at certain elements involved with the Chicago area but wouldn’t admit that he was negotiating with the consortium.

In order to solidify its bid for the license, the community of Crestwood joined with 10 other communities and reportedly the group has decided that they want the Trump organization to build and operate the riverboat casino.

Trump is no stranger to the area. His company owns and operates a riverboat in Gary, Indiana.

So far, the state’s 10th license remains in limbo. The holder of the license, Emerald Casino Inc., had agreed with the state’s gaming regulators to sell the license without making a profit but the sale never happened. Regulators have decided to make another attempt to just vacate the license and find another operator.

The Insider

Dover Downs Gaming & Entertainment Inc. (DDE) will pay a quarterly cash dividend of $0.05 a share on March 10 to shareholders of record on Feb. 10.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services has assigned a B+ rating to the $1 billion senior secured bank credit facility being developed by Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN).

Also, S&P has affirmed its B- rating on the debt of Mikohn Gaming Corp. (MIKN) and removed its negative implications from CreditWatch.

The Rhode Island Lottery has approved requests from Lincoln Greyhound Track for 1,300 additional slot machines and Newport Jai Alai for 525 additional machines.

A recent study conducted by the University of New York at Buffalo has determined that 82% of Americans have gambled during the past 12 months.

Revenue at Atlantic City casinos fell 11% to $311.4 million during the month of December, according to a report from the N.J. Casino Control Commission.