Big ad budgets ready
for R.I. casino fights

Aug 3, 2004 5:05 AM

Move over Kerry-Bush campaigners, the real battle Rhode Island voters face in November will be between Lincoln Park and a West Warwick casino.

Despite the outcome, the big winners will be the media since Wembley, owner of Lincoln Park, has said it will spend "easily up to $3 million" campaigning against the proposed casino that will be owned by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc., whose partner is the Narraganset Indian Tribe.

And Harrah’s also plans an "aggressive educational campaign" that will result in the country’s largest gaming company (assuming it acquired Caesars Entertainment Inc. (CZR) as planned) spending at least $2 million, according to Jan Jones, Harrah’s senior vice president and former mayor of Las Vegas.

Lincoln Park says the state’s residents will be shortchanged if a casino is built since it will kill its racino business that pays upwards of 60% of its revenues to the state while the casino would pay less than half that much.

Harrah’s and the Narragansetts argue that the casino will provide jobs, economic development and tax relief while providing the tribe with self-sufficiency. Also, Harrah’s will emphasize that millions of dollars are being spent by Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents at Connecticut casinos that could provide a major tax return to Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, a Brown University political science professor has warned his neighbors that they should be ready to "be bombarded with messages."

Business moves

Shuffle Master Inc. (SHFL) announced over the weekend it had promoted Golden Dickie to the position of vice president of compliance and government affairs.

Dickie joined the company in February of this year after leaving the Cabazon Gaming Commission where he was executive director. A retired San Diego police officer, Dickie held positions with the Nevada Gaming Control Board as well as with Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. and other gaming companies before accepting tribal work.

In the thoroughbred racing industry, Tim Smith, commissioner of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) has resigned effective Sept. 1. It has been reported that Smith will soon be appointed the new chairman and CEO of the troubled New York Racing Association.

And, at Nevada Gold & Casinos Inc. (UWN), Cathy Porter has been appointed general counsel. She previously was chief general counsel and corporate secretary for Pacific USA Holdings Corp., Dallas, Texas.