Montana shoots down plan
for $2B casino complex

Apr 8, 2003 7:18 AM

If Montana planned to stimulate the economy and increase tax revenues through gambling, developers suggested, it should do it in a big way. Not just with one casino, but with as many as 10 as part of a $2 billion entertainment complex.

The proposal was probably too grand for such a small state. Lawmakers decided not to accept the plan, even though it would have meant hundreds of construction jobs for the development of a massive entertainment center with 10 large casinos, music halls, golf courses, a theme park, a sports stadium and a convention center.

Then, of course, that kind of gaming expansion would have opened the door to the Native American tribes that would want to build casinos of their own.

Proponents called the proposal, "opportunity knocking," while opponents charged that "these people are hiding so much from you, you can’t imagine it."

Calling their plan "Destination Montana," developers Barrett Singer and Robert Tormey of Foxx Industries, said they were getting support from Pepsi-Cola Co. and from former NFL player, Marcus Allen. They promised to provide the state with millions in impact fees to help the legislature address its budget deficit, and new taxes for future years.

The developers said they chose the city of Butte to locate their entertainment complex because it has a wide-open parcel of land between the town’s historic district and the Berkeley Pit, enough room to allow an influx of workers, year-round recreation opportunities, along with access to major interstate highways. They predicted the complex would employ some 10,000 people with as many as 10,000 secondary jobs in the Butte area and the surrounding environs.

But when the bill was put to a vote of the House, it was shot down by a majority of 59-41.