Friday, October 05, 2007

Southampton Town Agrees to Purchase 65-Acre Parcel on Peconic Bay



Acquisition Protects Peconic Bay Shoreline, High Priority Land According to The Nature Conservancy

Southampton, NY—September 25, 2006—Southampton Town Supervisor Patrick Heaney announced today the Town’s intent to purchase 65 acres of woodland and nearly half a mile of natural shoreline on Peconic Bay with sandy beaches and 50 foot bluffs. The Nature Conservancy assisted with the negotiations.

The property is located in Hampton Bays and has been owned and operated as a camp by the Girl Scouts of Nassau County for many years, with the vast majority of the spot being in its natural state.

This property, joined with Squires Pond Town Park to the east, will create nearly one half mile of public access to the water.

"This acquisition will give the people of Southampton a spectacular family-oriented beach on the Peconic Bay in Hampton Bays," said Supervisor Patrick Heaney.

The Town intends to pay for the parcel using monies from its Community Preservation Fund (CPF). The CPF is financed by a two percent tax on real estate transfers and is in effect in the five eastern Towns of Suffolk County. A 10-year extension of the two percent transfer tax will be on the ballot this November in the five eastern Towns.

"We are thrilled to assist with the purchase of this spectacular Hampton Bays property on the shores of the Peconic Bay," said Nancy Kelley, Executive Director of the Nature Conservancy on Long Island. "It is one of the our highest priority sites on Long Island and is part of Long Island’s Last Stand – our 10-year plan to protect the most ecologically important remaining parcels left."

The new MGM Grand Detroit: Las Vegas comes to the Motor City

MGM Grand Detroit brings LV amenities to Michigan

By Richard Velotta / Staff Writer


The MGM Grand Detroit, an $800 million, 400-room property, is one of three casinos in Detroit. The resort was scheduled to open late Tuesday.
Photo Courtesy of Curt Clayton Studios

MGM Mirage boss Jim Murren said he was stunned when he saw celebrity Chefs Wolfgang Puck and Michael Mina scurrying around in their kitchens, preparing food in preparation for the opening of MGM Grand Detroit.

"It's just surreal," said Murren, the president and chief operating officer of MGM Mirage, during a Tuesday telephone interview from the Detroit property, which was scheduled to open its doors later that day.

"People are just walking around with their jaws on the ground," Murren said. "The resort here is just spectacular and most of the people who see it for the first time are just stunned at how beautiful it is."

Murren and several company executives from Las Vegas were there for the last-minute preparations for the opening, which had a guest list that included Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and entertainers Kid Rock and Ashanti.

Other celebrities from sports and the movie industry also were expected to be on hand.

"We're also expecting a mad rush of people at midnight with people lining up to get in," Murren said. "A lot of people have heard about it or seen it on TV and the press has been overwhelmingly positive. It's the most significant chapter in Detroit's history in terms of hospitality."

The MGM Grand Detroit, an $800 million, 400-room property, is one of three casinos in Detroit.

Its competitors include:

MotorCity Casino, owned by Marian Ilitch and her husband, Michael, founder of the Little Caesars pizza chain, whose family holdings include the Detroit Tigers Major League Baseball team and Detroit Red Wings National Hockey League team. Opened in December 1999, MotorCity has a 100,000-square-foot casino with 2,500 slot machines and 70 table games and a 400-room hotel.

Greektown, owned by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Opened in November 2000, Greektown has a 75,000-square-foot casino and a 400-room hotel.

Casino Windsor, owned by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission. Located across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, the 100,000-square-foot casino opened a temporary facility in 1994 and a permanent structure in July 1998, managed by Harrah's Entertainment with a 389-room hotel.

Expectations have been high in anticipation of the opening, even though MGM Grand Detroit already has been the market leader according to total adjusted income from its temporary casino, which closed its doors two days prior to the scheduled opening of the new permanent casino. (Complete Story)


Snce when did Hockeytown become Ghost Town? After a decade, it's time for Ilitch to make over the Red Wings' experience

from a story, "Detroit too good to be ignored," published 10.04.07 in The Macomb Daily:


But since when did Hockeytown become Ghost Town?

There were a lot of empty seats -- too many to dismiss --Wednesday night as the Red Wings opened the season with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks...

...Well, except the attendance. It was announced at 17,610 -- and that was generous. It was the first time the Red Wings didn't announce a sellout of a regular-season home game since 1996 -- a total of 396 games.

The days of the Red Wings dropping the puck and a sellout crowd automatically showing up at Joe Louis Arena are gone. It doesn't matter if the Red Wings remain the preeminent NHL franchise, either.

This much is clear: The Red Wings need to freshen up the way they put on a game.

If you walked into Joe Louis Arena Wednesday, other than the empty seats, it might as well have been 1995.

The same endless loop of taped organ music. Same old bit with Mo Cheese dancing to "The Curly Shuffle." Same lame "Score O" game between periods.

Then there is the cost of tickets. It's too much under the circumstances. The Red Wings' player payroll has been sliced nearly in half because of the salary cap, and reality is these are extremely difficult economic times in Southeastern Michigan.

The Red Wings need to do more than sell a few tickets for nine bucks to cure their woes..."

As "Hockeytown continues to shrink, down to Hockeyvillage;" Ilitch acknowledges prices are too high

From a story, "The thrill is gone with the Wings," published 10.04.07 in the Detroit News:

...There were huge pockets of vacant seats, more than popped up even during the playoffs. The announced crowd of 17,610 was about 2,500 [15%] below capacity, an amazing drop-off and the Wings' first regular-season non-sellout since 1996, a span of 396 games...And yet, Hockeytown continues to shrink, down to Hockeyvillage. You hope it doesn't fall to Hockeyneighborhood before the league and the fans stop taking each other for granted..."It meant to us -- wake up," owner Mike Ilitch said last week, talking about the empty seats. "In other words, the price is too high...

.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Gamble alongside the Detroit Red Wings; bid on which player you'll sit next to

10.03.07


Know when to hold 'em

A donation of $500 can get people into the Hockeytown Hold'em Tournament on Nov. 5 at MotorCity Casino.

Participants can bid on which Red Wing to play along side. The top three finishers will be awarded prizes, including a grand prize trip for two to an away game on Red Bird II during the 2007-08 season. Second place gets a suite for a home game and third place gets four tickets to a home game.

Limited spots are available by calling the ticket office at (313) 396-7575.

NHL's Red Wings are sponsoring their first Hockeytown Hold 'Em Tournament

10.03.07

THE TICKER: Play poker against the Red Wings

Our best bet of the day

And it is a bet. Literally.

The Red Wings are sponsoring their first Hockeytown Hold 'Em Tournament, Nov. 5 at MotorCity Casino.

For a $500 donation to the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, you get to play poker against Wings like Nicklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg. (Swedish Hold 'Em?)

The grand prize is a trip for two to a road game on the Wings' Red Bird II. Second prize is a suite for a home game, and third is four tickets to a game and a meet-and-greet with select players.

Call 313-396-7575.

NHL pulls announcement of Inaugural Gambling Tournament from Red Wings' official Web site


Less than 24-hours after TVT brought attention to a press release that was posted on the official NHL Web site of the Detroit Red Wings announcing that the Ilitch-owned Red Wings would sponsor a gambling tournament at Detroit's Ilitch-owned MotorCity Casino on November 5, the NHL has removed the announcement from the Red Wings' official Web site.

In light of the NHL gambling ring involving Rick Tocchet, Mrs. Wayne Gretzky (Janet Jones) and others which has grabbed headlines the last couple of years, it seems highly inappropriate for the Ilitch-owned Red Wings to be tied to some annual gambling tournament at the casino also owned by the Ilitch Family.

The question remains, will the NHL still allow the franchise to sponsor and participate actively in the gambling tournment to be held the week of MotorCity Casino's grand re-opening?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In the wake of Rick Tocchet's NHL gambling ring ...

Nearly a year ago, it was scandalous when Mrs. Wayne Gretzky (Janet Jones) was linked to an NHL gambling ring involving NHL's Rick Tocchet; but now Mrs. Mike Ilitch (Marian Ilitch) is pulling the Detroit Red Wings into her MotorCity Casino for an inaugural gambling-fest designed to draw others into her newly expanded Las Vegas-style gambling hall. YES, she's using the Red Wings to promote her casino.

as posted 10.02.07 on the official Web site of the NHL's Detroit Red Wings:


Put on a poker face with the Red Wings

DETROIT -- The tables will heat up at the Red Wings' inaugural Hockeytown Hold’Em Tournament presented by the MotorCity Casino.

Be part of the action on Monday, November 5 as the Wings ante-up for charity in this Texas hold’em format poker tournament.

For a $500 donation to the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, you can try your hand and test your nerves going head-to-head with Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and the rest of the 2007-08 Red Wings.

Beginning at 4:30 p.m., you will be treated to a cocktail reception at Iridescence, MotorCity Casino’s four-diamond restaurant where you can raise the stakes and bid on your favorite Red Wings' player to play along-side during the event. The action fires up inside the Poker Room at 6 p.m.

Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers, including a grand prize trip for two with the team to an away game on
Red Bird II during the 2007-08 season. Second-place will receive a suite for a Red Wings' home game during the 2007-08 regular-season. Third-place will receive four tickets to a Red Wings' regular-season game including a meet-n-greet session with select players following the game.

A limited number of participant spots are available by calling the Red Wings season tickets office at 313-396-7575. Table sponsorships are also available.

All proceeds will benefit the Detroit Red Wings Foundation. The goal of the Detroit Red Wings Foundation is to satisfy the unique needs of our community through the sport of hockey. The Detroit Red Wings Foundation, a subsidiary of Ilitch Charities for Children, is an IRS recognized 501c3 organization
.

Has Little Caesar's Gulfstream been shuttling Members of Congress and other politicians?

Gulfstream II, #N559LC, is owned by Little Caesar Enterprises LLC

#N559LC is based out of Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport (KDTW)

1974 Gulfstream II, #N559LC: Detailed Leasing Spec Sheet

Is this Gulfstream II (a plane owned by Little Caesar Enterprises LLC), the same plane that Michael J. Malik, Sr. has been using to shuttle Members of Congress and other politicians around the U.S.?

Various political disclosures have suggested that Michael J. Malik, Barwest LLC, MJM Manistee and other Malik controlled entitites have fronted travel and private airfare costs for Members of Congress and othe elected officials over the last four years.

Previously TVT has highlighted several aircraft (1) leased or (2) believed to be co-owned by Detroit's Ilitch family that may have been the aircraft Michael Malik has used to shuttle politicians and others to fund raisers and meetings related to Malik's various casino syndications or earmark-worthy projects.

However, it's most likely that this 22-seat, Gulfstream II, twin turbo engine plane pictured above was the aircraft Malik used. While the plane is owned by Little Caesar Enterprises, LLC; disclosure reports disguise reimbursements for travel costs by funneling payments to third parties associated with Michael Malik rather than reimburse the plane's owners Little Caesar Enterprises LLC.

In 1999 Mike and Marian Ilitch formed Ilitch Holdings, Inc. to provide all companies owned by Michael and/or Marian Ilitch with professional and technical services.

Little Caesars Pizza was co-founded by Detroit's Mike Ilitch and his wife Marian Ilitch. The family also owns the Detroit Tigers baseball team and the Detroit Red Wings hockey franchise. Marian Ilitch owns Detroit's MotorCity Casino and the family has partnered with Mike Malik on various Indian casino syndications.

Step inside the Art Decco inspired MGM Grand Detroit and it's all Las Vegas in the heart of Motor City

10.02.07


Fa├žade hides jewel within
Casino design rivals any on Vegas Strip

BY JOHN GALLAGHER
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

If the new MGM Grand Detroit casino landed on the fantasyland of the Las Vegas Strip, it would be, at least from the exterior, the mildest entry there.

Even here in Motown, the signature skyline image of the 18-story hotel portion of the MGM Grand offers just an updated version of a 1920s-era Art Deco skyscraper. There's a sense of old-time Detroit architecture freshened up, but nothing Vegas-like that screams "casino."

Step inside the doors, however, and any idea of architectural sedateness vanishes. From the gaming floor to the 10 restaurants and lounges, the MGM Grand offers, as its promotional material boasts, an environment like nothing Detroit has seen before.

Writers such as Tom Wolfe noted 40 years ago that curvy, swoopy, playful casino architecture had pushed beyond the realm of ordinary criticism. So much happens in the new MGM Grand, so much visual energy pulsates at every turn that at some point an architectural critic puts away his notebook and surrenders.

At MGM Grand, multiple spaces vie for attention, each a unique showcase. Step on an elevator in one spot and the floors shimmer with fire-and-ice imagery. Order a drink at a lounge elsewhere and watch the ceiling ripple like water in a pool as the level of voices rises and falls.

At the Wolfgang Puck restaurant, deer antlers hanging from the ceiling compete with the most contemporary design. Elsewhere, a wall is never just a wall: It might be recycled bottles behind glass, stacks of firewood or reclaimed bricks arranged in patterns. But these are just a handful out of dozens.

Unlike the nearby MotorCity Casino, where the new gaming floor evokes automotive imagery, MGM keeps the Detroit iconography to a minimum. There are no light fixtures that recall hubcaps or wall coverings that resemble car upholstery from the '50s.

Rather, there's a general emphasis on -- what to call all this? -- sophisticated, luxurious, glittering, glitzy colors and fixtures. Off the lobby of the MGM hotel tower, there's a firewall -- a horizontal recess halfway up the wall and almost the width of the room -- that jazzes up the old notion of a fireplace several notches. There are Zen-inspired pools in the spa, telephones with video screens in the hotel rooms, lots of cascading fountains, projected video all over the place.

With so much happening, it's no surprise that the list of architects and designers is long. Two Detroit firms, Hamilton-Anderson Associates and SmithGroup, crafted the basic architecture. But a roster of specialized designers worked on the hotel, the spa, the restaurants and lounges.

Critics of casinos are fond of noting that there are almost no windows, the better to keep everyone's attention on the business of losing money. But there are no windows in a movie theater, either, and for the same reason -- to create a fantasy space that captures the entire attention of its visitors.

At the MGM Grand, that pixie-dust atmosphere comes wrapped in a sedate exterior, which must be a metaphor for the solidity of Detroit's work ethic hiding the party soul within.

Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or gallagher@freepress.com

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Little Caesar's Gulfstream II airplane

Thanks to "tips" from TVT readers, TVT has confirmed that the plane pictured below, a Gulfstream II with tail number N559LC, is registered to Little Caesar Enterprises LLC. This plane is believed to be used principally by Mike & Marian Ilitch and their family/associates.

It is unclear if this is the plane that's been used to shuttle Members of Congress like former Rep. Richard Pombo and Alaska's Rep. Don Young. Another plane, a Gulfstream IV with tail number N424QS, is registered to an Olympia Aviation, LLC. The Ilitch Family controls an entity by that same name that also leases a DC-9 with tail number N682RW, used for team travel by the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings.


So far Ilitch Family and Mike Malik have contributed $143,300 to federal campaign committees in 2007

Since January 1, 2007, Mike & Marian Ilitch and their children have contributed almost $90,000 to three federal campaign committees:

  • $57,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee*
  • $23,000 to the re-election campaign of Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • $9,200 to the campaign committee of Rep. Candice Miller (D-MI 10th)
Their associate, casino syndicator Michael J. Malik, Sr., has contributed $53,300 toward several federal campaign committees:

  • $28,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee
  • $4,600 to the campaign committee of Rep. Joe Knollenberger (D-MI 9th)
  • $4,600 to the campaign committee of Rep. Candice Miller (D-MI 10th)
  • $4,600 to the re-election campaign of Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • $1,000 to the leadership PAC of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

The Ilitches and Malik contributed $27,600 to Senator Carl Levin's re-election committee this spring; and then in July the Ilitches turned around and contributed $57,000 to the NRSC which the GOP could use trying to unseat Senator Levin in 2008.

*Senator John Ensign (R-NV) is the chairman of the NRSC. The Michigan senate seat held by Democratic Sen. Carl Levin is on the ballot in 2008. AZ, CA, FL, NV, NY are among states that do not have any senate seats up for election in 2008.

Gretchen Belli, defendant in Barwest lawsuit, did jail time for crimes against the City of Taft, CA

A January 15, 2005 agenda for the Taft (CA) City Council indicates:

"In or about 2000, the City of Taft entered into a consulting agreement with Gretchen Belli to perform various consulting services. The consulting agreement was terminated in early 2001. Sometime thereafter, Mrs. Belli and her son, Jacob Ritchey, were indicted by the Kern County Grand Jury for several crimes against the City of Taft including four felony counts of (1) grand theft, (2) attempted grand theft, (3) filing a false or fraudulent claim for payment with the City of Taft, and (4) conspiracy to defraud to the City of Taft."


A story published July 27, 2005 in the Bakersfield Californian reads:

"The long, sordid tale of a onetime Bay Area socialite accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from Taft for fancy homes and vacations has one more mystery left: What will her punishment be after pleading no contest to two felonies? Gretchen Belli faces time in state prison or county jail -- or no lockup at all -- when she is sentenced in Kern County Superior Court Aug. 16, Deputy District Attorney Craig Smith said Tuesday. It's very likely Judge Jon Stuebbe will order Belli to pay $29,970 restitution to Taft, he said. The Taft City Council paid Belli's company some $760,000 in 2000 and 2001 to consult on economic development projects that eventually were abandoned..."


Subsequently the minutes for the August 30, 2005 meeting of the Taft City Council indicate:

"...that the Gretchen Belli trial is over, and that she received 60 days jail time and deposited $29,750 in an account for the City of Taft.."


Gretchen Belli is the former daughter in law of famed San Francsico attorney Melvin Belli. She is listed as a consultant in the credits of the 2007 film "Zodiac." She is also known as Evelyn Gretchen BELLI, Gretchen Riddell, and Gretchen Riddel Ritchey. Belli is named in a lawsuit filed by Barwest LLC June 21, 2007.

It is likely that Barwest's connection to Willie L. Brown, Jr. involved Gretchen Belli.

CA voters could decide fate of four casino expansions

10.01.07


GAMING NEWS
Voters may decide tribal casinos' fate

CALIFORNIA -- As reported by the North County Times: "Voters may get a chance in February to decide whether the Pechanga Resort & Casino near Temecula and three other Southern California Indian casinos should get any bigger.

"Racetrack owners, two tribes and a labor union are backing a signature-gathering effort to challenge the agreements that Pechanga and three other tribes signed with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this year.

"The agreements would allow the four tribes ---- the Pechanga, Agua Caliente, Morongo and Sycuan bands ---- to operate up to 7,500 from 2,000 slots that each has now in exchange for a sharing their earnings with the state.

"...A nonpartisan analyst for the state Legislature said the tribe's estimates on how much the state is likely to get from the agreements appears to be unrealistic. And Pechanga officials have said that the tribe does not plan to install all ---- or any ---- of the 5,500 machines right away.

"...It is not the first time that tribal casinos have been challenged at the ballot box. In 2004, racetracks and card club owners backed a proposition targeting tribal casinos..."

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was up for sale to highest bidder

9.29.07
Tribe has been put up for sale to wealthy outsiders

By Peter Kenney (Gadfly)

The internal politics of any family, clan, tribe or race can be brutal. All of history shows us conflict among all people at various times. But the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe faces a challenge of unknown proportion as it attempts to stay the course toward a tribal casino. If the Mashpee casino is to be what some call the new buffalo, there is considerable housekeeping to be done, unfortunately as much for the benefit of outsiders as for the tribe itself.

Due process must be guaranteed for tribe's members

The tribe was committed to agreements and obligations unknown to the tribe's members.When a corporation borrows from a bank or issues stock shares or bonds, there must be a corporate resolution showing that due process was followed by those who govern the corporation, that the corporation's rules were followed to the letter. The same is true when agreements are cemented between a government or government agency and a corporation.

Currently it appears to observers outside the tribe and to many members of the tribe itself that under former tribal council chairman Glenn Marshall, the tribe was committed to agreements and obligations unknown to the tribe's members.

Questions are asked, answers are scarce

The first fruits of federal recognition appear to be lost to tribe members... rights they always had under U.S. law. As members of the tribe attempt to resolve issues that will affect how well the tribe can function as a partner in a hugely expensive undertaking, the politics of the absurd prevent progress. Questions are asked, but answers are scarce. While issues are raised, solutions are put out of reach. An important meeting is scheduled, but there is no quorum. Worst of all, the first fruits of federal recognition appear to be the loss by tribe members of rights they always had under U.S. law, and protections that accompany those rights. Secrecy, shunning, denial of free petition and leadership silence are the currency of the tribe's new sovereignty.

Investors have vested interest in tribe's competitors

There are those who feel that the tribe was put up for sale, but no one told the members, and the only buyers were already wealthy outsiders whose known history shows them all too willing to reap huge profits from gambling in Connecticut at the expense of a tribal partner.

The tribe was not told that Herb Strather, their angel from Detroit, was selling his interests in the tribe's future, or to whom, or at what profit. In fact, the great majority of the tribe's members do not even know what agreements and contracts Strather had with them originally, nor do they know what the new investors have on paper. It seems that the tribe/developer partnership will apply to the state for some sort of gaming license, but will the state be assured that it is not helping the tribe cut its own fiscal throat? I have recently learned, for example, that Strather's agreement to sell his interest began a year earlier than I first thought. His deal was done long before June of this year.

Tribe's governances must handled properly and fairly

The Mashpee Wampanoag obligation is first to themselves and only then to others, even casino partners. It is critical for the tribe's governance to operate properly and fairly. It is critical for the cultural and personal success of the tribe's members, but it is also necessary for the tribe's financial success, for its future and the future of its children. The Mashpee Wampanoag obligation is first to themselves and only then to others, even casino partners. A reorganized tribal council with a unified tribe can weather any storm and a strong and just council will present the right face to the world. Just as important, the tribe's spokesman should be a Mashpee Wampanoag with spiritual connections to his or her people, not a white guy from Boston with political connections known only to him.

Whatever Gov. Deval Patrick decides, whatever the Legislature decides, there should be a valid corporate resolution from and by the true people of Mashpee, an informed and widely supported decision by the entire tribe to move forward with a particular partner under predetermined conditions. If the governor settles for anything less, he will be doing a great disservice to this ancient and honorable people and giving his blessing to greed, fraud and exploitation.

We have consumer protection laws, banking laws, anti-fraud statutes ... what about tribal casino rip-off protections?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Detroit casino gaming has not led to any noticeable redevelopment downtown

9.30.07



A gamble on casinos seems to be paying off

BY JOHN GALLAGHER
FREE PRESS BUSINESS WRITER

As the MGM Grand Detroit, the first of Detroit's permanent casinos, prepares to open this week, supporters of gaming say Detroit's three casinos have fulfilled most of their early promises and disproved most of the early doubts.

On the positive side, casinos have proved themselves to be the municipal cash cows that state and local officials fervently hoped when MGM Grand opened the city's first temporary casino in 1999.

In another positive, it's now clear that the widely predicted problems of mob infiltration and street crime related to gaming never materialized.

On the negative side, social service agencies have had to help more people with gambling problems since the first casino opened.

And in another negative, hoped-for spin-off development near the casinos, in the form of restaurants and other amenities, did not occur.

Record mostly positive

Overall, the record remains mostly positive, said Larry Marantette, an economic development consultant from Detroit who was part of an early advisory task force on casinos.

"It's been substantially more positive than negative -- and don't forget the jobs," said Marantette, a partner in Taktix Solutions. "They have provided large numbers of jobs with benefits in a whole range of salaries."

Christopher Baum, senior vice president for sales and marketing of the Metro Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the casinos also have helped make Detroit a more attractive city for conventions and trade shows. That should prove even truer as the three new casino-hotels open and add 1,200 rooms to the downtown market.

"It's a major extra point of leverage for Detroit," Baum said.

Keeping the money here

Getting casinos in Detroit was not easy. Voters had repeatedly turned down casino gaming. But once a casino opened in Windsor in 1994, advocates of gaming in Detroit could play an unbeatable hand: why should all that money go to Canada?

"The No. 1 factor always was retention of the dollars," said Jake Miklojcik, an economic development consultant based in Lansing who works with casinos.

Once the Detroit casinos opened, money began to pour into government treasuries, thanks to a state law requiring the casinos to pay 24% of gross revenues to the city and state. As an incentive to invest in the larger venues, that amount drops to 21% once the permanent casinos open.

Since 1999, the three gaming houses have turned over slightly more than $1 billion in taxes and service fees to the City of Detroit, and almost that much to the State of Michigan.

The money has proved critical to both a city and a state struggling with chronic budget shortfalls.

Crime fears unfounded

During the casino debates of the 1990s, many people cited a fear of crime as a reason to keep casinos out of Detroit.

Opponents predicted that organized crime would infiltrate the casinos, and that pickpocketing and other petty crimes would flourish.

Neither happened, the Michigan Gaming Control Board said. There has never been a hint of mob infiltration. Street crime has proved less of a problem near the casinos than in the rest of the region, probably thanks to the large numbers of police who patrol inside and outside the gaming palaces.

Problem gamblers

But one predicted problem did happen: Opponents said casinos would create more problem gamblers in southeast Michigan.

Last year, some 33,000 people called the gambling help line of the Neighborhood Service Organization, a nonprofit human services agency based in Detroit.

Many calls dealt with lottery questions and issues not related to a gambling problem. But LaNeice Jones, the agency's vice president for programs, said thousands of the callers did report personal and financial problems stemming from gambling.

"The number of people who identified themselves as problem gamblers has certainly increased with three casinos in the city," she said.

Economic spin-offs lacking

The three temporary casinos hired several thousand of their own workers plus many outside vendors, creating as many as 6,000 spin-off jobs in the local service industry, Miklojcik said.

Many of the 6,400 direct casino jobs are unionized and pay health and other benefits.

But casino gaming has not led to any noticeable redevelopment downtown.

Two of the three gaming sites, MGM Grand and MotorCity Casino, stand as isolated islands. The third, Greektown Casino, is in the midst of one of the city's hottest tourist areas, but even there the economic spin-off has been limited.

MGM's planned opening Tuesday is the first of the permanent facilities with hotels.

MotorCity's opening is scheduled in November.

Greektown's expansion and hotel are to open next year.

Todd Stern, owner of the Small Plates restaurant on Broadway downtown, said casinos don't provide any business for him, mostly because gamblers enter a casino, eat and gamble there and then go home. Other nearby restaurant managers agreed.

Laurie Volk, an economic development consultant based in New Jersey, said casinos do little to attract the highly educated younger workers who are considered crucial to urban redevelopment. Those workers prefer more cultural amenities and meeting places such as coffee shops and casual restaurants.

"I don't know if casinos help at all, frankly," she said.

Downtown has, of course, seen a lot of loft residential development and some new retail in recent years, as well as the new Campus Martius Park, the RiverWalk, and other amenities. But planners say those happened independently of the casinos, and reflect a trend toward downtown revitalization rather than casino spin-offs.

The lack of spin-off benefits may stem from a failure in Detroit to cluster the three casinos, as occurred on the Las Vegas Strip and in some other casino cities. In Detroit, attempts to create a casino district, either along the east riverfront or in the downtown area, failed for a variety of reasons.

"The most positive street impact comes when casinos are clustered and the gamers go from one to the next and in between stop and shop and dine," Marantette said. "We just don't have that structure in Detroit."

Ann Lang, president of the civic group Downtown Detroit Partnership, is hopeful that downtown spin-offs may yet come as the permanent casinos open.

"It used to be that visitors would come for a Tiger game and go home," she said. "And now, much more often, they come early or stay late, go to a restaurant, visit the riverfront. And it's conceivable to me that that same kind of activity could happen around the casinos. We're just not there yet."

Contact JOHN GALLAGHER at 313-222-5173 or gallagher@freepress.com.


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TVT has welcomed more than 178,000 unique vistors

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Since our first post, more than 178,000 visitors have accessed the details compiled uniquely at TVT.

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Google News: Indian Gaming

NEWS: Bay Mills Indian Community & Casino Proposals

NEWS: Shinnecock Indian Nation (Gateway Casino Resorts) Casino Proposals

NY Times: Shinnecock Indian Nation

NEWS: Los Coyotes Indian Tribe

NEWS: Los Coyotes / Barwest Barstow Casino Proposals

NEWS: Michael J. Malik, Sr.

NEWS: Marian Ilitch

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certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? Forbes.com 10.09.06 ● Marian Ilitch #1 on "25 Most Powerful People" to Watch 2006” global gaming business o1.oo.o5 ● My Kingdom for a Casino Forbes 05.08.06 ● Big Lagoon’s casino dream awakens north coast journal 07.28.05 ● Shinnecocks launch legal claim to Hamptons land newsday.com 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire RGTonline.com 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners MichiganDaily.com 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute detnews.com 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller freep.com 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit rgtonline.com 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged freep.com 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer desertdispatch.com 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project LasVegasSun.com 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow signonSanDiego.com 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles detnews.com 10.23.02 ● Vanderbilt gets short straw in negotiations for a casino Lansing Journal 10.06.02 ● Indians aim to drive family from tribe in vicious dispute san diego union tribune 04.09.00 ●Malik owns 2000 Michigan Quarter Horse of the Year Michigan.gov 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino detnews.com 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch detnews.com 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests gamblingmagazine.com 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E detnews.com 04.25.99 Investors have troubled histories las vegas review journal 04.27.99 ● Investor served probation for domestic assault on 12 year old boy detnews.com 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... crainsdetroit.com 03.17.97

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