California tribe with just 12
adult members plans casino

Oct 21, 2003 4:35 AM

Members of the La Posta Band of Mission Indians have decided they want a casino, like so many of their California brethren and they have reached out to a successful Arizona Tribe to help them achieve their goal.

They may end up as one of the first Indian tribes to approach Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger for a gaming compact, putting to the test the actor-turned-politician who has railed against the state’s failure to derive any revenue from the existing 51 Indian casinos.

Current plans call for the La Posta Band to build a small casino on the north side of Interstate 8, about 50 miles east of San Diego. It will be across the highway from the Campo Band of Kumeyaay Indians Golden Acorn Casino.

The La Posta Band chose the Yavapai Apache Nation of Arizona to help in the development because the tribe has been successful in running their own casino, the Cliff Castle Casino, about 70 miles north of Phoenix, and because it already has developed a California casino, an operation owned by the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.

The proposed La Posta casino will have about 300 slot machines and will cost between $10 million and $15 million.

According to James Hill, business manager for the La Posta Band, the tribe has received a number of offers to develop their casino but they chose the Yavapai-Apache Tribe because of their previous successes.

The size of the La Posta Band casino may reflect the size of the tribe. The group has just 25 members, and only 12 of these are adults.

Pressure growing

Political pressure seems to be growing as the Massachusetts State Senate begins debate on a proposal that would establish three licenses for racetracks to install slot machines.

Problem is there currently are four operating racetracks: Suffolk Downs, thoroughbreds; Plainville Racecourse, harness, and Wonderland and Raynham Greyhound tracks. If the plan is implemented, one track will be left without slots.

Some supporters have indicated they favor the racinos plan because it concentrates the state’s gambling at facilities where gambling already exists. Others oppose for different reasons, including the locations of the tracks. As state Treasurer Tim Cahill noted, the four tracks are located in the eastern section of the state, leaving the western section without a gaming property.

But others object because the racetrack owners "would see the value of their businesses increase after simply buying a license," said Dennis Murphy, a former lawmaker who now lobbies for a casino development company.

"Let’s face it, their businesses will instantly gain a value of $150 million, easy," he said.

Additional pressure will probably develop should voters in Maine on Nov. 4 favor installing slot machines at that state’s two racetracks. One would be near the Maine-New Hampshire border while the other would be some 200 miles to the north.

Connecticut revenue

One casino was up a little while the other was down a little but the bottom line was that the State of Connecticut was more than $32 million richer.

Combined, Foxwoods Resort Casino, operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Indians, and its neighbor, Mohegan Sun Casino, had slot revenue during the month of September of more than $128 million. Individually, Foxwoods took in net win of $64.9 million while the Mohegan Sun had slot revenue of $64.1 million.

Bill Sherlock, Foxwoods president, said that the revenues amounted to "still a good month" even though the numbers were down from last year.

"Most of the popular Labor Day weekend fell in August this year and that had an impact on our September numbers," Sherlock explained.

As much as the state looks forward to those monthly checks from both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, officials have taken an opposite view relative to money being offered by the casinos to fund an American Indian Policy Center at the University of Connecticut law school.

The rejection should also be extended to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the opponents stressed.

"As it has been well documented," wrote Gov. John G. Rowland, "the BIA is rife with internal conflict. On one hand, it is charged with protecting the interests of Native Americans and to promote tribal economic and social interests. On the other hand, the BIA is required to administer the federal recognition process, which is often in direct conflict with the state’s interests, particularly where powerful gaming interests are involved."

He added that he believed the BIA grant could compromise a law center’s ability to conduct unbiased research.

Online acquisition

The Federal trade Commission has granted early termination of the Hart Scott Rodino waiting period thereby enabling Scientific Games Corporation (SGMS) to proceed with the acquisition of IGT OnLine Entertainment Systems Inc., the online lottery subsidiary of International Game Technology (IGT).

The company announced in September that it would pay IGT $143 million in cash for the online lottery system being used in seven states and the Caribbean. The system also provides support to customers in Korea, Norway, Switzerland and Shanghai.

Also, the acquisition, according to Scientific Games, includes IGT OnLine’s Advanced Gaming System video lottery system contracts, certain intellectual property, and an exclusive license to certain of IGT’s slot brands for instant and on-line lottery games.

MGM land sale

Scrapping a plan for another golf course, MGM MIRAGE Inc. (MGG) announced last week that it had sold 315 acres of land north of its Shadow Creek golf course in North Las Vegas to Centex Homes.

Sale price for the property was given as $55 million.

In announcing the sale, Terry Lanni, chairman and CEO, noted that "at one time, the company had considered the development of a second golf course on this site." However, describing Shadow Creek and its two other golf courses in Primm, on the California border, as "being in pristine condition," Lanni said the company decided to monetize its non-core asset and strengthen its balance sheet.

The proceeds will result in a pretax gain of $37 million to be recognized in the fourth quarter, the company said.

Togetherness

Oftentimes racetrack operators and the participating horsemen find themselves on the opposite side of the page, but if there is anything that can have them operating as a team it’ money. Specifically, slot machine revenue.

A case in point is the Charles Town Race Track owned and operated by Penn National Gaming Inc. (PENN). Since the state of West Virginia passed a law permitting the track to install some 3,500 slot machines, the track has been able to pour some $135,000 a day into the purse account.

The boost in purses at the formerly moribund track has resulted in a number of horsemen who had moved to greener pastures to return "home."

"The most positive thing that has happened at Charles Town," explained Richard "Dickey" Moore, the track’s general manager, "has been the implementation of the video lottery machines because it provides money. "That money has boosted Charles Town Race track into one of the biggest moneymakers for parent Penn National.

But, it also has drawn the Horseman’s Benevolent and Protective Association into being one of the track’s biggest boosters.

Said Dick Watson, president of the horsemen’s association, "We are doing fabulous."

The Insider

The city of Rohnert Park, Calif., has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Graton Rancheria Tribe for a casino development that eventually will pay the city $200 million over 20 years. The tribe has an operating agreement with Stations Casino Inc. (STN).

Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD) has been added to the S&P MidCap 400 Index replacing Legato Systems Inc. (LGTO).

WMS Industries (WMS) has added Harold H. Bach Jr., to the company’s board of directors.

Joseph J. Hasson has been promoted to general manager of mobile products by Youbet.com Inc. (UBET).

Focus on the Family, a conservative evangelical Christian ministry, has joined the opposition to a referendum that would permit Colorado racetracks to install slot machines.

The state lottery of South Carolina has transferred more than $78 million to state education programs.

The High Court of South Africa has ruled in favor of Silverstar Development Limited and its partner, Century Casinos, Inc., in their bid for a license to build a casino in the suburbs of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Colorado casinos generated $58.4 million in revenues during the month of September.

Union workers at the three casinos in Detroit, Mich., have voted to strike after their three-contract expired last week. However, the union has agreed to permit the workers to continue working while negotiations continue.