Conn mulls casino tolls

Feb 11, 2003 7:39 AM

Gambling can take its toll on bettors. Imagine having to pay one to leave the premises.

That’s what some Connecticut politicians would like to see at both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun ”” a toll booth as visitors exit the casino resorts.

"People are saying, Holy cow, why didn’t we think of this sooner," said Rep. Livvy Floren, sponsor of a bill she likens to "paying a cover charge" at a nightclub.

Floren told the Hartford Courant that the idea would act as both a check on further casino expansion and a way for the state to make as much as $200 million in new revenue.

To do that, lawmakers would have to charge casino patrons a $10 toll upon leaving.

"We think it’s preposterous," said Charles F. Bunnell, deputy chief of staff for the Mohegan Tribe, which operates the resort. "First of all it’s going to cause traffic problems. It’s going to have a negative impact on the environment...and it smacks of being discriminatory."

No for Buffalo?

A downtown casino for Buffalo is no longer a sure thing, according to a local television station report.

Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello is reportedly upset over information that the Seneca Nation is looking at sights in several suburban areas. Masiello has been pushing for a casino at the downtown Statler hotel.

"I want to do the right thing for my citizens," Masiello said. "To me I have to think where their head is at in this particular case."

Seneca Tribal Council Bergal Mitchell III said his leaders didn’t want to be told where they had to go.

"We are bringing in 2,000 jobs and $50 million in new revenue that people can’t spend in our casino because they’re going to be working for the casino," he said. "Buffalo is still our first choice, but no longer the only one."

Rocky road for slots

The Denver Post reported that the casino industry is backing three proposals that would back video lottery terminals at Colorado’s horse and dog tracks.

"Our thinking is that VLTs are illegal outside of the three gaming towns (Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek) and there’s still a big question as to whether these devices are in fact slot machines," said Lois Rice, head of the Colorado Gaming Association.

The move is designed to stop an initiative by Sen. Jack Taylor that asks voters for permission to place 2,500 slot machines at the tracks to generate revenue for tourism.

PPE cuts riverboat

Park Place Entertainment slashed the value of Bally’s Casino New Orleans riverboat in half, citing changes in the local gambling market.

The Las Vegas based gaming giant said the riverboat was worth $41.5 million. The value has dipped to $20 million.

Park Place and its New Orleans partner, businessman Norbert Simmons, have been fighting since Simmons’ former partner Hilton Hotels Corp. spun off its casino properties into Park Place in late 1998. Simmons objected to the transfer, saying it caused him financial harm.

Nebraska listening

The Nebraska Legislature’s General Affairs Committee will hear testimony beginning this week on four proposed constitutional amendments that would ask voters to approve casino gambling.

"This just gets it out before the voters," state Sen. Ray Janssen told the Associated Press. "If they approve it, we’ll take it from there."