Casinos other than racetrack VLT parlors are illegal in the state, unless built on land owned by a tribe that is recognized by the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs. Although the tribe has been recognized by a federal judge, the bureau has yet to follow suit, saying a decision might not be made until 2014.
The bureau has said it can't get to the Shinnecocks' case until 2009, and that a decision couldn't be made until five years after that. [Newsday]Yeah, the wheels of government turn slowly alright, unless its funding a failed war. The tribe is awaiting a court's decision on their plan to build a casino on Eastern Long Island, but even a favorable decision would be subservient to their federal tribe status. However, according to the News' report, should the court rule that they have the right to build that casino, the tribe would try for a global settlement with the state and feds — giving it tribal recognition and making the land around the racetrack reservation property.
The proposal calls for over 10,000 slot machines as well as a full array of table games; and would have nothing to do with operating the racetrack. The Shinnecocks have no experience with running a casino, but they have a willing partner in Gateway Casino Resorts. That company is run by Marian Ilitch, the wife of Detroit Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch, who, of course and according to major league baseball rules, has nothing at all to do with his wife's business! Of course, you can find all you need to know about the Ilitch clan over at The Verifiable Truth. Gateway operates the MotorCity Casino in Detroit, a venture which is apparently having some problems of its own.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Proposed Shinnecock/Gateway casino at Aqueduct Racetrack would be less than 15 miles from Times Square
"The Shinnecocks' surprise bid, reported exclusively in the Daily News yesterday, would put slot machines, table games like blackjack and poker and 1,200 hotel rooms on the site of the moribund Aqueduct Racetrack in far eastern Queens.
"Backers say it would generate 12,000 jobs and almost $400 million a year for the city and state, luring back gamblers from Atlantic City and the Indian casinos in Connecticut."
The Shinnecock Nation's proposal to build a casino resort at a racetrack is "doable," tribal trustee Lance Gumbs told Newsday. The tribe and its partner were one of six bidders to operate the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens under a state...
The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Massachusetts is moving forward with its plans for a casino despite a call from Gov. Deval Patrick (D) to pursue a commercial casino. The tribe wants to open a casino in the town of...
MotorCity Casino has tentative agreement on new union contracts; disputes were over health care, pay, retirement
As MotorCity averts strike, other 2 likely to follow suit
BY HEATHER NEWMAN and MARGARITA BAUZA
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
Teetering on the brink of a strike that could have cost Detroit and the state hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue and put hundreds of casino workers on the picket line, the MotorCity Casino and its unions reached a tentative agreement Wednesday that likely will bring labor peace at all three of the city's gambling houses.
The agreement averted the first strike threat to Detroit's burgeoning casino industry and concluded a bizarre day in which gamblers were shooed out of the casino -- leaving it filled with workers who were being paid with no customers to serve.
About an hour before yet another strike deadline loomed at 6 p.m., employees were called into a meeting and told that a tentative settlement had finally been reached. Union officials advised workers to show up for their next scheduled shifts, saying that details of the new contract would be available within the week.
It ended the latest show of labor unrest in metro Detroit, which has endured two short strikes by autoworkers in the last month and faces ongoing talks to avoid a third.
"This has been a long and tough negotiation process. Both sides worked very hard to reach a fair and equitable contract," said Rhonda Cohen, chief operating officer of the MotorCity Casino.
Union negotiators said they shared the sentiment. They have said that the primary disputes were over pay, health insurance premiums and company 401(k) plan contributions.
"We've reached an agreement that will benefit our members and their families, while also helping the gaming industry move forward in Detroit," said Jimmy Settles, a vice president for the UAW, one of the unions involved.
MotorCity officials declined to comment on contract provisions or specifics of the talks.
Although negotiations continue with the other two casinos, the final contracts will apply to all three. Because negotiators had the most issues to deal with on the MotorCity agreement, they were optimistic it would stop any labor dispute at the other casinos.
"Talks will continue," said Scott Grigg, spokesman for MGM Grand Detroit.
Officials at Greektown Casino did not return repeated calls seeking comment Wednesday evening.
Details of the new agreement will be presented to members of the Detroit Casino Council, which consists of five unions representing more than 2,000 workers at MotorCity Casino.
MotorCity reopened for business shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday, after shutting its doors and turning away gamblers for nearly seven hours as negotiations continued past a noon strike deadline.
"We are open to the public. We are happy to have them back," MotorCity spokeswoman Jacci Woods said. "It's been a very difficult day, but everybody's back to work."
"I feel very optimistic," said Nikia Johnson, who works in the cage, the area where casino patrons exchange cash and chips. "I'm glad they saw we were serious. And now we want to go back to work."
Robert Allen, 38, of Detroit was one of the first customers in the door after the casino reopened. He lives down the block, he said, and was waiting until he saw it reopen to go play the slots.
"I was going to come earlier, but it was closed," he said. "I was going to go to MGM, but I really prefer coming here. I was happy to hear that employees got what they wanted."
All three casinos' contracts with the Detroit Casino Council expired at midnight Tuesday, and all three negotiated extensions while talks were under way.
The five unions in the council are the UAW, the Teamsters, the Carpenters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees. They represent more than 6,000 workers among the three casinos.
Although the council voted this month to authorize a strike at any or all of the casinos should an agreement not be reached before the contract expired, workers at MotorCity never actually walked out.
Instead, the casino closed its doors but kept workers on the payroll while awaiting news of an agreement or strike.
"They knew we were going to strike. They were preparing," Melissa Johnson, a banker for the cage department, said Wednesday before the tentative agreement was announced.
Johnson, 32, describing one area of dispute, said employees pay $17 a week per family for health insurance. She said the company proposal called for employees to pay $52 a week now, $65 a week next year and $89 a week the year after that.
Employees later said they were told the company had agreed as part of the settlement to keep health insurance premiums the same.
"We feel a little bit of relief, but we don't have details," said Lynn Pride, 28, of Detroit, who works in marketing and promotions at Club Metro at MotorCity.
"We all have children. We can't afford to lose anything," said Juanita Passmore, 42, of Detroit, who has worked as a poker dealer at the casino since it opened in 1999. "The cost of living is going up."
It was unclear how much the temporary closure cost the casino and how much the city and state lost in tax revenues. But, based on 2006 revenue reports, the casino contributes about $300,000 a day to the city and state, with the majority of that paid daily to the City of Detroit.
Casino revenues and tax payments have risen steadily over the last year.
During the closure, Mary Williams of Detroit drove to the casino and said she was turned away at the door.
"I'm disappointed that we can't play, but we are union people," she said. "No one needs to pay more for health insurance, and the casinos are making big money."
Contact HEATHER NEWMAN at 313-223-3336 or email@example.com . Staff writer Bowdeya Tweh contributed to this report.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Hockeytown fans have complained of the high price of Red Wings tickets among other things and feel they've not been courted or treated well since the 2005 lockout.
And now, the Ilitch organization, in negotiations with labor unions for contracts at MotorCity Casino has reportedly locked the doors to its Detroit gambling hall and closed down its parking structure. Bus loads of disappointed gambling patrons are being turned away and heading to the new MGM Grand Detroit and elsewhere.
The question is, how long will the Ilitch organization continue to lock out patrons of its newly expanded gambling hall; and will the opening of MotorCity Casino's new hotel facility next month be enough to bring about a swift recovery in lost gaming revenue?
MotorCity Casino's parent company CCM Merger, Inc. currently has a negative credit rating with Moody's; and both Moody's and Standard & Poor's were forced to downgrade the casino's holding company's credit ratings after the first year of Ilitch ownership because it was leveraged at rates higher than projections investors were originally told to expect.
"According to reports buses of patron were turned away and forced to find gaming at other venues.
"Scott Grigg, spokesman for MGM Grand Detroit, which is a mile south of the MotorCity Casino said simply, 'We welcome the additional business.' "
Most Influential Women
Detroit Entertainment L.L.C.
Ilitch Holdings Inc.
Associated Press at Forbes.com
MotorCity Casino in Detroit Shuts Down
By COREY WILLIAMS
DETROIT - Lawyers for Detroit's three casinos convinced a judge last month to stop the state from temporarily closing the gambling halls in the event of a partial government shutdown.
Faced Wednesday with a possible work stoppage by more than 1,000 unionized employees, one of the three decided to close itself.
Security guards at MotorCity Casino, just north of downtown, asked gamblers already inside to leave and turned away dozens of others at the doors prior to a noon contract extension deadline.
Union workers were asked to leave or were denied entry into the casino, said Teamsters spokesman Leon Cooper.
Job security, benefits, health insurance and wage increases are the main issues in the contract negotiations between the Detroit casinos and their unions, which include the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers and others. Of immediate concern to the city and state is the loss of nearly $170,000 daily in wagering taxes from MotorCity alone.
MotorCity, Greektown and MGM Grand reported combined revenue of $1.3 billion last year. The state received nearly $158 million in taxes on that money. Detroit received more than $155 million.
Detroit chief financial officer Roger Short said in a statement that the city receives about $450,000 daily in tax revenue from all three casinos.
City and state officials are optimistic that any strike or work stoppage would be short.
"It's between the casinos and unions," said Damian Kassab, chairman of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, which regulates the Detroit casinos. "It's not a good thing and very similar to what we were facing with the state budget crisis. This could be a substantial loss of revenue."
Gov. Jennifer Granholm had threatened to shut down state government if legislators failed to agree on a new budget. The Gaming Control Board at the time argued that state regulators would be laid off, causing auditing and safety concerns in the casinos.
That was resolved when a last-minute budget was reached Oct. 1.
In trying to reach a deal with its unionized workers, MotorCity and labor negotiators agreed Tuesday night to a 12-hour contract extension to 11:59 a.m. Wednesday. The unions already had extended the MGM Grand and Greektown casinos' contracts on a day-to-day basis.
Nothing in the state gaming act prohibits Detroit's casinos from operating during a strike or other work stoppage. Properly licensed supervisory personnel could run the floors, Kassab said.
"The one issue we would have from a regulatory perspective is separation of duties," he said. "We would be concerned that the people normally overseeing the operations may be potentially performing too many of those operations."
MotorCity spokeswoman Jennifer Kulczycki said the casino had no comment on the shutdown.
But it comes at an awkward time for the gambling establishment. MotorCity is expected to open its $275 million, 17-story luxury hotel next month. The casino opened an expanded gambling floor earlier this year.
MGM Grand Detroit opened its hotel and casino complex Oct. 2. Greektown has plans to do same next year.
MotorCity and MGM Grand opened temporary facilities in 1999 after Michigan voters approved casino gambling in Detroit. Greektown opened a year later.
In 2005, Marian Ilitch, wife of Detroit Red Wings' and Tigers' owner Mike Ilitch, bought out her partners and became sole owner of MotorCity Casino.
UPDATED: Formerly rejected MotorCity Casino backers Malik & Strather have taken similar paths to Long Island & Cape Cod
Malik and Strather along with Marian Ilitch, Tom Celani and about 100 other Detroit business and community leaders formed Atwater Casino Group and immediately following the narrow passage of the 1996 ballot measure, announced a partnership with Circus Circus that would be called Detroit Entertainment LLC.
Circus Circus repaid the $5 million Atwater Casino Group members had contributed to the Proposal E campaign. Detroit Entertainment is the parent of MotorCity Casino; owned 100% by Marian Ilitch since April 2005.
Prior to opening MotorCity Casino in 1999, the Michigan Gaming Control Board required the individual owners of the casino to go through rigorous background checks and be granted gaming licenses. Malik and Strather were among a handful of owners from Detroit’s three commercial casinos who were denied licenses following the background checks. Both were forced to sell any share they had in the venture before the Casino could open. So, Strather’s shares in MotorCity Casino were assumed by Circus Circus and Malik’s by Marian Ilitch.
Fast forward a couple of years…
Strather. Bankrolling Federal Recognition. Cape Cod Casino.
Strather had developed a partnership with the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts and was bankrolling their effort to gain federal recognition. In exchange, Strather has said he would be given a portion of the development rights on a Wampanoag casino – to be built in Middleborough on Cape Cod.
As with the commercial casinos in Detroit, the management of Indian casinos must stand up to the scrutiny of background checks and be licensed by the National Indian Gaming Commission. The Mashpee tribe reports it never intended for Strather to hold the gaming license; his role was to front entitlement and predevelopment phase.
Shortly after the Department of Interior granted federal recognition to the Mashpee this past Spring, it was announced that gambling tycoons Sol Kerzner and Len Wolman (Mohegan Sun) had signed on as lead investors of a Mashpee casino resort and Strather has faded into the background. If approved, the Mashpee casino resort in Middleborough would be the first Indian casino in Massachusetts and the only casino on Cape Cod.
Malik. Bankrolling Federal Recognition. Long Island Casino.
Among other projects, Malik (and Ilitch) have partnered with the Shinnecock Indian Nation of New York and have been bankrolling the tribe’s federal recognition efforts. In exchange, Malik (and Ilitch) would be given development rights on a Shinnecock casino resort to be built in the posh Hamptons resort area on Long Island.
Given Malik’s inability to be licensed in Michigan, much like Strather’s circumstances with the Wampanoag, the Shinnecock must have no intentions on Malik being licensed for their casino. As Kerzner and Wolman were to Strather, it’s most likely that Marian Ilitch would step in and apply for the license and contract approvals to manage any future Shinnecock Indian Nation Hamptons casinos resort on Long Island.
The Malik/Strather MotorCity Casino Model: turn-key or turn-down?
The model followed with the Mashpee and Shinnecock was developed by Malik and Strather first developed when they were rejected for Michigan gaming licenses. They've attempted to turn lemons into lemonaide.
Given that Marian Ilitch is publicly acknowledged as Malik’s partner on a venture in Barstow, California, Malik’s the entitlement and pre-development model that worked for MotorCity Casino circumstances and replicated for the Mashpee and Shinnecock situations would seem to apply for Barstow as well.
Once the entitlement and pre-development efforts are complete for Barstow, an Ilitch back-casino managment company would step in and Malik would appear to fade into the background as to avoid any licensing requirement; or perhaps both Malik and Ilitch would step aside for Vegas interests as they did originally for MotorCity Casino.
And a similar model would appear to hold true for Malik’s 15 year quest to site an off-reservation casino for the Bay Mills Indian Community in Port Huron, Michigan.
Strather’s close to achieving success using the MotorCity Casino turn-key model for fronting the financing and management of entitlement and predevelopment; Malik has yet to prove it’s going to be successful for his casino proposals in New York, Michigan and California. Absent Tom Celani, Malik and Ilitch have yet to win entitlement and develop any casino resort.
Ilitches and Curis Enterprises get tax credit from Granholm for projects
DETROIT -- Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm announced this morning that Ilitch Holdings will receive a $750,000 tax credit to rehabilitate the 10-story Detroit Life Building in downtown Detroit.
The 40,000-square-foot building, which has been vacant for 30 years, is located at Park and Columbus, just southeast of the Fox Theatre.
The Ilitches, who own the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Fox Theatre and Little Caesar Enterprises, plan to spend a total of $7.5 million restoring the structure. The exterior and first floor lobby will bring it back to its original condition.
The first floor will be used for retail space, and the second through 10th floors will be converted to office space.
A tax abatement for the project is being considered by the City of Detroit.
In the Detroit enclave city of Highland Park, Granholm also announced a state tax credit of $527,000 will be used by developer Michael Curis of Curis Enterprises to develop the new Woodward Place on Woodward Avenue, formerly occupied by a Sears Roebuck store razed in 2002.
The project entails cleanup of the 3.97-acre site and construction of a 40,000-square-foot shopping center anchored by Aldi Foods. Tenants may include a bank, pizza shop, retail stores, restaurant and police mini-station. The development will be enhanced by extensive landscaping, wrought iron fence and flag plaza.
The project is expected to involve $7.45 million in investment and create 120 jobs.
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MotorCity Casino closes as strike deadline passes
UPDATED AT 11:40 A.M.: Gambling patrons and tour buses are being turned away from MotorCity Casino as the casino prepares to shut down in advance of a noon strike deadline.
Negotiators for MotorCity Casino and the Detroit Casino Council, made up of members of the United Auto Workers, Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees union, and International Union of Operating Engineers, Teamsters and Carpenters, which represents approximately 6,100 employees at the city's three casinos, agreed last night to extend the existing contract until noon.
Patrons and employees were being asked late this morning to leave the premises of the casino near the Lodge Freeway. No picket signs were visible as of late this morning. WWJ-AM (950) was reporting that patrons and tour buses were being diverted to the city's two other casinos.
Joel J. Smith and Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News
DETROIT -- Gamblers were being turned away from the MotorCity Casino this morning because of a labor dispute with employees.
The casino was bargaining with its five unions this morning -- as part of a 12-hour contract extension -- when MotorCity suddenly locked its doors and prevented customers from entering its parking structure. The employees' contract expired at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
A recorded message on the casino's main telephone line said: "The MotorCity Casino is currently closed due to the labor action taken by the Detroit Casino Council. We apologize for the inconvenience."
The casino allowed customers already on the gaming floor to finish their bets and then asked them to leave the premises.
Guards outside the gaming facility were overheard giving customers directions to MGM Grand Detroit Casino.
Detroit Police are on the site to shoo people away if necessary.
You can reach Joel J. Smith at (313) 222-2556 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearly 30 Clay Township residents spoke out at public hearing last week on a plan to build condominiums on Harsens Island.
And none of them were happy.
Their concerns about the proposed $170-million, 380-acre development proposed by Grande Pointe Development range from a possible negative impact on the island's ecosystem to traffic congestion to space on the ferry that is the island's connection to the mainland.
More than 200 people attended the hearing before the planning commission.
Norm Rhodes, a member of the advocacy group Citizens for Responsible Development of Harsens Island, said the township should not treat the developer differently than residents.
Grande Pointe Development LLC is managed by casino developer Michael Malik.
Dorothy Deboyer, chairwoman of the commission, said it would take public opinion into consideration, but that it can't be the sole factor in the township's decision to approve or reject the project.
The commission is to discuss the proposal again at its Nov. 14 meeting.
Compiled by Bill Laitner, Korie Wilkins, the Associated Press and Gannett News Service.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Labor grants day-to-day extension for Greektown, MGM Grand Detroit; negotiations focused on MotorCity Casino
Meanwhile, contract talks are focusing on bargaining with MotorCity Casino, owned by Marian Ilitch’s Detroit Entertainment L.L.C., the union announcement said.
“We are at the bargaining table and we will continue our efforts to reach a new contract that is fair to workers and keeps the gaming industry moving forward in Detroit,” United Auto Workers Vice President Jimmy Settles, director of the union’s technical, office and professional department, said in a statement.
The four-year contract with the casinos is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
Other unions in the council are the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, the Operating Engineers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Carpenters union.
Detroit's three casinos and their five unions have agreed to extend the contract which was set to expire at 11:59 p.m. tonight while bargaining over a new labor deal continues.
The unions have also said they would give the gambling halls 72 hours notice if they decide to end the extension and strike.
Bargaining continues today at the Pontchartrain Hotel. People familiar with the situation say stumbling blocks include wages and health care benefits.
A union official said Monday that MotorCity Casino has been targeted as the focus of the talks. The contract also covers workers at MGM Grand Detroit and Greektown.
The five unions banded together at the beginning of the decade to form the Detroit Casino Council.
MGM Grand confirmed the extension.
"We are committed to reaching a mutually agreeable contract for our team members and will continue to bargain in good faith with the DCC to do so," said George Boyer, president and COO of the casino.
During contract negotiations in 2003, casino workers won a number of wage and health-care guarantees. That agreement secured wage increases of at least $4,000 per worker over the life of the contract, and $2,000 lump-sum seniority bonuses for some workers.
That four-year contract also lowered health and dental insurance costs for union members.
The Detroit Casino Council represents the United Auto Workers, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union, and, Teamsters and Carpenters unions.
(a) MISCONDUCT IN PLAYING BASEBALL. Any player or person onnected with a club who shall promise or agree to lose, or to attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which he is or may be in any way concerned; or who shall intentionally fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any such baseball game, or who shall solicit or attempt to induce any player or person connected with a club to lose, or attempt to lose, or to fail to give his best efforts towards the winning of any baseball game with which such other player or person is or may be in any way connected; or who, being solicited by any person, shall fail to inform his Major League President and the Commissioner.
(b) GIFT FOR DEFEATING COMPETING CLUB. Any player or person connected with a club who shall offer or give any gift or reward to a player or person connected with another club for services rendered or supposed to be or to have been rendered in defeating or attempting to defeat a competing club, and any player or person connected with a club who shall solicit or accept from a player connected with another club any gifts or reward for any such services rendered, or supposed to have been rendered, or who having been offered any such gift or reward, shall fail to inform his League President or the Commissioner immediately of such offer, and of all facts and circumstances therewith, shall be declared ineligible for not less than three (3) years.
(c) GIFTS TO UMPIRES. Any player or person connected with a club, who shall give, or offer to give, any gift or reward to an umpire for services rendered, or supposed to be or to have been rendered, in defeating or attempting to defeat a competing club, or for the umpire's decision on anything connected with the playing of a baseball game; and any umpire who shall render, or promise or agree to render, any such decision otherwise than on its merits, or who shall solicit or accept such gifts or reward, or having been solicited to render any such decision otherwise than on its merits, shall fail to inform the League President or the Commissioner immediately of such offer or solicitation, and all facts and circumstances therewith, shall be declared permanently ineligible.
(d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.
Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.
(e) VIOLENCE OR MISCONDUCT IN INTERLEAGUE GAMES. In case of any physical attack or other violence upon an umpire by a player, or by an umpire upon a player, or of other misconduct by an umpire or a player, during or in connection with any interleague Major League game or any exhibition game of a Major League Club with a club or team not a member of the same league, the Commissioner shall impose upon the offender or offenders such fine, suspension, ineligibility or other penalty, as the facts may warrant in the judgement of the Commissioner.
(f) OTHER MISCONDUCT. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as exclusively defining or otherwise limiting acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball; and any and all other acts, transactions, practices or conduct not to be in the best interests of Baseball are prohibited and shall be subject to such penalties, including permanent ineligibility, as the facts in the particular case may warrant.
(g) RULE TO BE KEPT POSTED. A printed copy of this Rule shall be kept posted in each clubhouse.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Why does the mail server for MotorCity Casino still indicate its ISP as "Mandalay Resort Group" nearly two and a half years after Marian Ilitch is said to have acquired MotorCity Casino from Mandalay Resort Group/MGM Mirage?
And what other links remain between the Ilitch-owned MotorCity Casino and Mandalay Resort Group/MGM Mirage?
|ISP||Mandalay Resort Group|
Casino City Times reports MotorCity Casino added 25,500 square feet of gaming space and opened its expanded 100,000 square foot casino in early June 2007.
The property saw a substantial jump in casino revenue in June 2007 (+15.06%); and then had a slight increase in revenue for July 2007 (+0.82%). But in August 2007, just two months after the expanded gaming floor opened, MotorCity Casino’s monthly revenue had a measurable drop (-3.73%).
September 2007 revenues have yet to be published. And in October 2007, MGM Grand Detroit (Detroit's leading casino) had its Grand Opening.
Shinnecocks eyeing Aqueduct for casino
A Native American tribe from Long Island is interested in building a casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, a spokeswoman for the tribe said Monday.
The Shinnecock Indian Nation's proposal entails 490,000 square feet of gaming space that would include 10,600 slot machines and 350 tables for blackjack and poker.
More than $2 billion in revenue would be generated through gambling, the tribe said.
The proposal is much wider in scope than the planned video lottery terminals for Aqueduct, which would contain only slot-machine-like devices.
The tribe is currently not federally recognized, which would be needed in order for it to build a casino in the state. It filed for federal recognition in 1978 but has not gotten an answer.
Beverly Jensen, a Shinnecock spokeswoman, said she did not immediately know the criteria for federal recognition, but "whatever it is, we meet all of that and above and beyond."
Since the area around Aqueduct is not Shinnecock land, the tribe would need to enter into an agreement with the state to build a casino at the site - if it becomes federally recognized.
By COREY WILLIAMS
A coalition of labor unions has targeted MotorCity Casino as the focus of contract talks this week.
The labor agreement covering workers at MotorCity and Detroit’s other two casinos is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
"Our focus in the next few days will be to reach an agreement that recognizes what workers have contributed, and keeps the industry moving forward," United Auto Workers Vice President Jimmy Settles said Monday in a news release.
"The dealers, drivers, housekeepers, wait staff, building operators and other workers who make up the Detroit Casino Council have been key to the success of the gaming industry in our city since the very beginning," Settles said.
The Detroit Casino Council represents the UAW, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union and the Operating Engineers, Teamsters and Carpenters unions.
Negotiations were continuing Monday, UAW Local 7777 financial secretary-treasurer Shimeca Jackson said.
Jackson said she could not comment on any timeline for negotiations with Greektown and MGM Grand Detroit casinos.
About 10,000 employees at all three casinos will be represented under the new contract once it is reached, Jackson said.
A spokeswoman for MotorCity said the casino could not comment on the negotiations.
The negotiations are pivotal for the casinos, which are spending $1.5 billion on new hotels and gaming expansions.
MotorCity Casino opened its expanded gaming floor earlier this year and is spending $275 million on a 17-story hotel to open later this fall.
MGM Grand Detroit opened its new, $800 million, 18-story hotel and casino complex earlier this month. Greektown Casino is spending $475 million to expand its existing facility, including $200 million for a 20-story hotel and a parking structure set to open next year.
But now, the Ilitch backed tribe has come up with a new scheme: to build a 495,000 square foot casino at New York’s Aqueduct race track (more than 7.5 times larger than the casino plan announced for Long Island). The Aqueduct scheme is reported to rival two of the country’s largest Indian casino resorts: Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.
Marian Ilitch was 25% partner in the original MotorCity Casino venture which opened in 1999 in Detroit. She acquired all outstanding shares of MotorCity Casino from MGM Mirage/Mandalay Resort Group and other minor investors in 2005 to help facilitate the merger of the two Las Vegas gambling conglomerates. Since then MotorCity Casino has undergone a $275 million renovation and expansion and the new MotorCity Casino has 100,000 square feet of gaming space according to Wikipedia. The Aqueduct proposal would be 4.5 times larger than MotorCity Casino.
Marian Ilitch and her husband Detroit Tigers/Red Wings owner Michael Ilitch hosted a fundraiser at their Detroit headquarters for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign in August. The event was reported to have raised as much as $345,000 for Giuliani’s campaign.
The Ilitch family and their casino syndication partner have personally contributed nearly $1 million to political campaigns in recent years.
Ilitch and partners have paid some of the most influential and most controversial D.C. lobbyists more than $3.5 million to push various Indian casino proposals since 2002.
When the state receives bids to operate 4,500 video lottery terminals at the Queens racetrack today, the tribe will submit what one trustee called "an alternative proposal" asking for 10,600 slot machines and 350 gaming tables spread out over 490,000 square feet there.
"It's really a proposal that we think is worth looking at and we're really hoping the state takes us seriously on this," said Lance Gumbs, a senior Shinnecock trustee.
The tribe is also dangling a projected $400 million in tax revenue to the state in the first year, anticipating $2.1 billion in gaming revenues. But state officials say the Shinnecocks' plan is premature because the tribe has yet to be federally recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs - a necessary first step in the process.
"The state cannot consider a casino until the question of federal recognition of the tribe is resolved," said Christine Pritchard, a spokeswoman for Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
Although a federal judge recognized the Shinnecocks as a bona fide tribe in 2005, the bureau has yet to follow suit, saying a decision might not be made until 2014. The bureau has said it can't get to the Shinnecocks' case until 2009, and that a decision couldn't be made until five years after that. That approval is needed for any casino development.
Gumbs said the tribe is hopeful it can convince the bureau sooner, saying they've discovered congressional reports up through the 1950s that acknowledged the Shinnecocks on a federal list of tribes.
If that happens, Pritchard said, the governor and legislature would have to approve plans for a casino.
Asked about the governor's feelings on a casino operation vastly larger than what has been envisioned for Aqueduct, Pritchard said it's too soon to comment. Last month, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said a majority of his colleagues oppose any expansion of gambling machines beyond the 4,500 terminals proposed at Aqueduct.
"The speaker believes we should go forward with the plan that's already been adopted in legislation," Dan Weiller, a spokesman for Silver, said yesterday.
Any agreement for a casino between the state and the tribe would be subject to further federal approvals, Pritchard said, and could invite feedback from the city as well as the state.
Stu Loeser, a spokesman for New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said they hadn't seen the plans yet and could not comment, but added the mayor generally does not favor gambling.
Local tribe ready to roll dice on casino bid at Aqueduct
BY TRACY CONNOR
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
A Native American tribe is set to drop a bombshell bid to build and run the city's first casino — a $1.4 billion gaming palace at Aqueduct Racetrack, the Daily News has learned.
The last-minute proposal may be a long shot, but the Shinnecock Indians are hoping to entice the city and state with the prospect of a half-billion dollars in revenue a year.
The tribe also is dangling another sweetener: a promise to drop its fight to build a casino on its ancestral lands in Southampton, which has roiled the playground of the rich and powerful.
The Shinnecock bid, which will be submitted to the state tomorrow, aims to upend plans for a smaller video-lottery complex at the Thoroughbred race track in Ozone Park, Queens.
Three companies are expected to submit bids to run that lottery facility, a racino slated to have 4,500 video terminals.
But the Shinnecock — who are teamed with a Michigan sports mogul who operates a Detroit casino — have a far grander vision rivaling Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
The bid calls for a million-square-foot casino with 10,500 slots, 350 gaming tables and 12,000 employees. A 1,200-room hotel and other amenities would be built with community input, the tribe says.
"It would be great for the City of New York," said Fred Bess, a Shinnecock trustee. "New York is tired of watching all the gaming revenues going to Atlantic City and Connecticut."
Though casinos are illegal in New York, federally recognized Indian tribes can build gambling facilities on their reservation land.
In 2003, the Shinnecock sparked an uproar by breaking ground for a casino on an 80-acre parcel called Westwood on the east end of Long Island.
The town of Southampton and the state responded with a federal lawsuit seeking to stop the tribe. A trial ended in May, and a decision from the judge could come any day.
The Shinnecock believe they are likely to win the case — and they are also hopeful about a pending suit that lays claim to 2,800 acres of Hamptons land and demands billions from the state for seizing it.
The litigation, they believe, can be used as leverage to forge a deal on Aqueduct. Powerful opponents of a Hamptons casino theoretically would lobby for the Shinnecock to run a facility in the city instead.
But even if the political stars aligned, the Shinnecock would face another stumbling block: They must be federally recognized as a tribe to open a casino.
A federal judge's ruling recognized the Shinnecock in 2005, but the tribe is still trying to force the U.S. Department of the Interior to acknowledge it. A lawsuit was filed last year.
Bess said he is optimistic the tribe can negotiate a global settlement with the state and feds — giving it tribal recognition and making the land around the racetrack reservation property.
"I think it's a good shot and anybody who looks at it will have to give serious consideration," Bess said.
The Shinnecock have no experience running a casino but they have partnered with Gateway Casino Resorts, a venture of Michigan business mogul Marian Ilitch.
Ilitch, who co-founded Little Caesar's Pizza and owns the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings, owns the MotorCity Casino Resort in Detroit and should be considered a serious player, an industry analyst said.
"They're kind of a small company but I think they have a lot of respect," said Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine.
He said MotorCity has performed as well as the MGM Grand Detroit under Ilitch's control. "That has really impressed me," he said.
The Aqueduct bid estimates a full-size casino would bring in $2.1 billion annually. The city and state would share a 25% kickback from the $1.5 billion generated annually by the casino's slot machines and would receive added tax revenues.
By contrast, the video lottery racino that opened at Yonkers Raceway last October with 5,500 terminals grossed $350 million in its first year.
The Shinnecock would have nothing to do with horse racing. Gov. Spitzer has endorsed a plan for the New York Racing Association to continue operating the track.
Other players in the hunt for gambling gold
Before the Shinnecock Indians entered the fray, three private companies were vying to run the gambling operations at Aqueduct Racetrack.
Empire Racing, Excelsior and Capital Play all submitted proposals to take over horse racing at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga and run the video lottery terminals at Aqueduct.
But Gov. Spitzer has recommended the New York Racing Association keep the horse-racing franchise at all three tracks — and a separate contract be awarded for the video slots.
The deadline for bids is tomorrow. It's unclear who will step forward. But here's a look at the companies that have expressed interest:
Backed by Las Vegas casino developer Steve Wynn, the group also includes politically connected gaming developer Richard Fields.
A Saratoga-based coalition of horse-racing and gambling interests. Churchill Downs and thoroughbred breeder Marylou Whitney withdrew last week.
An Australian-based gaming company allied with real estate developer Stephen Ross and the Mohegan Sun.
There were reports last week that Capital Play and Empire Racing may join forces.
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