Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ilitch granted exception so family's Olympia Entertainment can be leveraged to benefit her casino


Ilitch casino gets exemption
State says Olympia Entertainment can book acts

By Daniel Duggan

Marian Ilitch has won an exemption from the Michigan Gaming Board and now can use Ilitch-owned Olympia Entertainment to do bookings for the new theater at MotorCity Casino, despite a law prohibiting casinos from using vendors in which they have an ownership interest.

Negotiations on the exemption began before the theater was completed in September and, as a result, only two shows have been booked at the 1,886-seat theater since, both under special one-time-use exemptions.

The gaming board's executive director issued a one-year exemption to the casino Nov. 7, saying the arrangement doesn't “harm the integrity of gaming” in Michigan.

Using Olympia Entertainment is a crucial part of the business plan for the new theater, Sound Board, so that bookings for performers at the casino can be made in conjunction with Comerica Park, the Fox Theatre and shows at other venues booked by Olympia Entertainment, said MotorCity COO Rhonda Cohen.

“Being able to leverage acts with the other Olympia Entertainment venues gives us access to better acts,” Cohen said.

When it comes to Michigan casino owners using vendors they also own, a measure of control is needed, said Richard Kalm, executive director of the gaming board. The spirit of the law is to ensure that a casino company doesn't take over all the vending companies in the area and create a monopoly, he said.

“And we're always worried about organized crime and theft,” Kalm said. “So, entities have to be kept separate.”

In evaluating the case with Ilitch Holdings, Kalm said there is no apparent concern from a gaming standpoint.

“In dealing with Marian Ilitch and Ilitch Holdings, we've never had any problems with them, and they've been perfect in reporting to us,” he said. “But you have to look at these issues carefully.”

Kalm has sole discretion to grant such an exemption to a company as long as it “preserves the integrity of gaming and protects the public.”

Several conditions apply to the exemption. The casino is required to issue quarterly reports on activities with Olympia, and the deal is subject to annual re-approval.

A similar exemption was granted to MGM Grand Detroit Casino because the Las Vegas-based gaming company MGM Mirage (NYSE: MGM) — which owns an interest in the Detroit operation — also owns a travel agency in Las Vegas, which is used to bring guests to Detroit, Kalm said.

Exemptions also have been issued in the past for Olympia so that all three casinos can purchase luxury boxes for sporting events and buy season tickets.

Daniel Duggan: (313) 446-0414,

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pelosi pressured to replace Rep. Rangel; GOP has not replaced Reps. Young or Lewis

Politico is reporting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is facing growing pressure to replace Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) atop of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. For now however, writers John Bresnahan & Patrick O'Connor conclude:

    Pelosi also has breathing room within her own caucus. Republicans tried to turn Rangel into a campaign issue during the recent elections, calling on Democratic challengers and incumbents to return the hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions that Rangel has handed out in recent years, but Democrats largely ignored this effort.

    Democrats have countered Republican attacks on Rangel by pointing out that Boehner has not ousted Reps. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) from high-ranking committee posts despite ethics allegations and FBI investigations of both men...
Is it a coincidence or not that a team of Detroit casino syndicators lead by Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr., happens to have questionable lobbying and campaign contribution ties to Reps. Rangel, Young and Lewis. The Ilitch/Malik team has contributed at least $89,000 to political committees controlled directly by those three members of congress.

Various Ilitch/Malik affiliates and partners (Bay Mills Indian Community, MJM Enterprises, Blue Water Resorts, etc.) have a hired lobbyists (Alan Wheat, Wheat Government Relations; Richard Alcalde and Daniel Feliz, Potomact Partners DC; Richard Kessler and Billy Lee Evans, Kessler & Assoc.; Barbara Bonfiglio, Williams & Jensen) who have been at the center of controversy and investgations involving the three Congressmen referenced above.

Tribe's contribution to Rep. Don Young's re-election committee not easily discoverable

The Bay Mills Indian Community contributed two checks totaling $5,000 to the re-election committee of Rep. Don Young (R-AK) on 4.01.08, April Fool's Day. But discovering that fact is no easy task.

The Bay Mills tribe was able to exploit a loophole in federal campaign finance laws which generally prohibit contributions from organizations, restricting donations to individuals. Most political data bases are built to track the first and last names of individual donors not the name of an organization. This makes discovering contributions from organizations like Indian tribes more difficult. Searching contributor lists using "Bay Mills Indian Community" is not likely to yield any references.

However, these two contributions were discovered after reviewing "Schedule A (Itemized Receipts)" of Young's quarterly disclosure report filed 7.15.08. That report covered his campaign committee's activity for the period 4.01.08 to 6.30.2008.

It's worthy noting that one day before the tribe made its two contributions, on 3.31.08, Young received several thousand dollars in checks from a deal maker who has pushed a scheme to develop a third Bay Mills casino and his D.C. lobbyists.

Five years ago Young co-authored H.R. 831 (108th Congress); and since then, he has worked to advance plans backed by casino syndicators who seek to exploit opportunities with the Bay Mills tribe in order to build a casino in Port Huron, Michigan.

In his most recent effort, Young helped to successfully shepherd H.R. 2176 through the House Natural Resources Committee last February. The bill, intended to pave the way for the proposed casino development, was approved by the Committee and reported out favorably on 2.13.08.

As noted above, on on March 31st & April 1st -- a little more than six week's after his success in the Natural Resources Committee -- the tribe, its casino syndicator and lobbyists representing their interests gave at least $11,000 to Young's committee.

Then on 6.25.08, Young led, with passion, debate on the floor of the House of Representatives in favor of H.R. 2176. However, his colleagues weren't buying it and overwhelming rejected the bill in a vote with an outcome of 121 yeas to 298 nays.

By posting the tribe's contributions on April 1st, Young was able to:
  • Avoid disclosing the contributions until after the 6.25.08 vote on the House Floor;
  • Report them separately from contributions made by their financial backers and lobbyists which were reported in the 1st Quarter '08 disclosures.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008 connecting Ilitch to the U.S. Congress money race is dedicated to illuminating the connections between money and politics. The campaigns of those highlighted in the graphic below were heavily funded by Mike & Marian Ilitch, their family members and casino development partner Michael J. Malik, Sr. They helped these Members of Congress raise thousands more from their business associates, consultants, vendors, attorneys and friends.

They had hoped these politicians could have convinced their colleagues to pass H.R. 2176 and H.R. 4115 in the 110th Congress. They failed to produce a positive result when H.R. 2176 was defeat on the floor of the House.

Click on the graphic below to visit and see details and connections for these politicians and others. Illuminating the connection between money and politics affiliated with H.R. 2176 illuminates the connections between money and politics surrounding H.R. 2176 (110th), the bill voted down on the floor of the House last June. The bill was intended by Reps. Don Young, Candice Miller and Bart Stupak to pave the way for Detroit casino syndiators to build a Port Huron casino in partneship with the Bay Mills Indian Tribe. Each of those Members has been rewarded with substantial support for their re-election campaigns and other political committees paid for by the Port Huron/Bay Mills casino backers.

To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community. (at

Center for Responsive Politics
To provide for and approve the settlement of certain land claims of the Bay Mills Indian Community. (at

Monday, November 24, 2008 What's the difference between a bank and a casino?

Check out this post from
    What’s the difference between a bank and a casino?
    Brought down by subprime mortgages, credit default swaps and other high-stakes games, the financial world is giving Las Vegas a bad name.

    In recent months, commentators and members of Congress have repeatedly accused banks and investment companies of “operating like casinos.”

    Curious about how close the worlds of banking and gambling really are, we took a closer look... (Original Post)

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certainly must reads!

Ilitch has backed loosing sports teams and pizza, but casinos in Detroit? 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 06.16.05 ● Ilitch Plans to Expand Casino Empire 07.05.05 ● Ilitch outbids partners 04.14.05 ● Ilitch enmeshed in NY casino dispute 03.20.05 ● Marian Ilitch, high roller 03.20.05 ● MGM Mirage to Decide on Offer for Casino in Detroit 04.16.05 ● Secret deal for MotorCity alleged 02.15.05 ● Los Coyotes get new developer 02.08.05 Detroit casino figure to finance Barstow project 07.07.03 ● Indian Band trying to put casino in Barstow 06.04.03 Pizza matriarch takes on casino roles 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 01.01.00 ● Detroit Team to run Michigan’s newest Indian casino 05.23.99 Tiger ties tangle Marian Ilitch 04.29.99 ● Three investors must sell their Detroit casino interests 04.25.99 ● Partners’ cash revived election; They say money was crucial to Prop-E 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 04.25.99 Can a pair win a jackpot?: local men hope to... 03.17.97

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