Saturday, October 29, 2011

Detroiters' Lobbyist Laying Groundwork for Waikiki Gambling

Note: John Radcliffe is a Hawaii-based lobbyist and politico.  He's been affiliated with Detroiters Michael Malik and Marian Ilitch for the last decade through Lansing-based Marketing Resource Group, the public affairs firm owned by Malik/Ilitch mouthpiece Tom Shields.

Radcliffe: The game is up, I told you, and you are not ready

From the Peter Kay Show (click link for audio)

John Radcliffe’s speech to UHPA officials at closed-door meeting Sat. Feb. 12

"I am here to cheer you up. Happy Valentine’s Day!

"I am tracking 143 bills for you right now. Half of them are “take aways.” I expect we’ll defeat all of them. You also want me to get you more money. I won’t. In fact, we will be damn lucky to keep what we had.


"How long have I been telling you that the revenues to pay for government are inadequate to pay the cost of government?

"Ten years?

"It has been at least ten years. Ten years, I think. In that time, the economy has gone down, up, and down—but each down has been deeper and has taken a toll, and each up has not been enough to restore funding levels…as a result government has suffered… It is now a Potemkin Village — a shabby Potemkin Village.

"The carpeting in the Governor’s office has not been replaced in I don’t know — 10-15 years? The lights don’t all work. The air conditioning is stuck at 60. The offices of other departments are often in much worse shape. There are gaping holes in some of the ceilings — By the way, to save money, the air conditioning in all government offices is shut off at 4:30 PM, and of course on all weekends… and on furlough days. But because people need to work, because they are so shorthanded — they work without the air conditioning — And it is pretty clear that the state has not had enough money to buy air conditioning filters for years — so most government buildings are full of mold and virus—and the workers who are left are sick workers.

"In terms of manpower, all 16 departments — not counting DOE and UH, are between 60% and 40% undermanned.

"Dozens of government programs are gone — teen pregnancy, job training, youth programs in general, etc. all gone….Gone. What are left are food stamps, employment training for adults, some programs for the disabled—child and protective services — the youth jail… Those things for which our government is under court order to provide — things like that. We cannot adequately enforce our laws on food safety, occupational safety, and etc. The questions of the public go unanswered for lack of manpower to answer phones.

"The Governor wants to bring our felons back and build new prisons here…not likely. Not soon.

"By the way, some of these social service agencies have been coming to me to hire me — to help them regain their state funding… and I am refusing to work for them. It would be taking money under false pretenses. They are done. Toast. Over with. Get it? People out of jobs. Kids out of programs. It is gone. Gone.

"Government is a business that enforces laws, provides social services, and shuffles paper… and that is not being done adequately any more.

"There is no legislative stomach for increasing taxes either. The soda tax, liquor tax, tobacco tax, pension tax, plastic bag tax, are probably all going to die..." (Complete Story)
See also:

Court Rules Los Coyotes can Toss Eagle Rock from Reservation

Court denies training center's temporary restraining order

A federal judge ruled Friday that the Los Coyotes Band of Mission Indians can evict a military training center off its North County reservation.

The Eagle Rock Training Center is the site where a fire started July 21 and burned about 22 square miles.

The firm, which leased the land on the reservation for the training facility, filed a lawsuit in federal court Sept. 15 after the tribe attempted to evict the business from the reservation.

Attorneys for Eagle Rock asked the Judge William Q. Hayes to issue a temporary restraining order to keep the tribe from pushing them out.

On Friday, Hayes denied their request.

At issue is whether the tribe's then-chairwoman, Francine Kupsch, had the authority to agree to the lease on behalf of the tribe.

Hayes said she did not.

"ERTC has failed to present any evidence to show that the Los Coyotes General Council authorized any version of the lease," Hayes wrote.

Sean Roach, Eagle Rock's CEO, declined to comment Friday night.

After the tribe gave the training center an eviction notice in June, Eagle Rock officials said in court documents that they attempted to negotiate with the tribe to clarify the lease agreement, but that tribal officials "failed to negotiate in good faith," according to the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, Mark Radoff, an attorney for Los Coyotes, told the North County Times that the tribe can not be sued because of sovereign immunity and that there was no lease agreement because it was never approved by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Eagle Rock officials said in court documents that they were told the tribal council had voted and approved the lease and that the chairwoman signed a lease agreement that included a waiver of the tribe's sovereign immunity.

Hayes cited previous rulings that say "sovereign immunity cannot be implied but must be unequivocally expressed" and that there is a "strong presumption against waiver of tribal sovereign immunity."

The firm also alleged that the dispute over the lease agreement and the tensions it created between the tribe and the company may have led to the fire.

Two tribal members were arrested shortly after the fire and charged with arson for setting a guard shack belonging to Eagle Rock on fire. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

"Members of Los Coyotes even threatened to take matters into their own hands if ERTC did not vacate the property," according to court documents. "Tragically, such threats came to fruition when the tribe allowed certain tribal members to take matters into their own hands by pouring gasoline on the ERTC's security booth and lighting it on fire."

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Decade Ago: Detroiters' First Big Push to Legalize Gambling in Hawaii

The mainland group says casinos would improve the economy

By Richard Borreca
Detroiters pushing to
legalize gambling in Hawaii
A group of mainland investors -- including Marian Ilitch, who owns 25 percent of a Detroit casino -- is launching a push to legalize gambling in Hawaii.

The group, called Holomua Hawaii, plans to testify at a Senate hearing next Thursday to be held by the Economic Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Rod Tam (D-Nuuanu).

The committee is considering resolutions to authorize a study on the economic impact of gambling in the Islands.

But the new group is pushing its own study prepared by Michigan Consultants with the assistance of Lawrence Boyd, a University of Hawaii economist.

The group also is planning newspaper, television and radio ads calling for action by the Legislature this year.

"This is a serious effort at economic development for Hawaii," said John Radcliffe, who is has been hired by a public relations firm associated with gambling interests.

Radcliffe also is the associate executive director of the University of Hawaii Professional Assembly, which is threatening to strike April 5 if new wage increases are not granted.

Radcliffe sees legalizing gambling as a viable way to improve the state's economic health.
"This is a serious attempt to improve the local economy," he said. "We are hoping for some action this year."

The 75-page economic report concludes that if there were two casinos on Oahu they would bring in $431 million and 6.8 million visitors a year.

"It is entirely logical that a person who withheld support for past gaming proposals during other economic times would now decide to support the dual Oahu casino approach given the financial soundness of the proposal and the competitive and economic realities facing Hawaii," the report said.

In Detroit, Ilitch's casino, MotorCity, has taken in $872,000 a day from food, drink and gambling, according to a report by Mandalay Resort Group, which owns 53.5 percent of the casino.

Senate President Robert Bunda, who has sponsored bills to legalize betting on horse races and lotteries, said he did not know if there was enough support in the Legislature to approve a gambling bill this year. Instead, he is hoping for a study during the interim.

Earlier in this legislative session, Gov. Ben Cayetano said he was interested in a proposal by Sun International to build a $800 million resort and casino at Ko Olina, but that proposal failed to generate support among lawmakers.
Blogger's Note: In the decade since this article was published, Marian Ilitch has taken ownership of MotorCity Casino. However, she and her partner Michael Malik have failed to open any new commercial gaming enterprises and have failed despite numerous schemes to develop off-reservation Indian casinos in Barstow (CA), Port Huron (MI) and on Long Island (NY). Michael Malik was forced from the original MotorCity Casino partnership when the Michigan Gaming Control Board failed to award him with a gaming license in 1999. In the 12 years since, Ilitch/Malik partnerships have failed to win approvals for, or assume management/operations of, any new casinos.

Disclosure? And their tangled web: Detroiter Michael Malik, the Jack Utsick Ponzi Scheme, Shinnecock & Bay Mills Indians, and Akerman Senterfitt

Michael J. Malik, Sr.
According to official lobbying records, during 2008 & 2009 the D.C. office of Akerman Senterfitt (Akerman) a legal/lobbying firm, registered as a lobbyist for the Bay Mills Indian Community but did not report any related income. At the same time Akerman also represented the Shinnecock Indians and was paid $230,000 for that work. Detroiter Michael J. Malik, Sr., or his affiliates pay all or part of the lobbying bills and manage the lobbying contracts for both Native American groups who are also his intended gambling partners. Should either tribe receive the necessary approvals, Malik affiliates have the exclusive rights to develop, manage and operate their respective gambling halls.

Simultaneously, Michael I. Goldberg, an Akerman attorney and "shareholder" in Florida, had been retained as the Receiver in a $300 million federal ponzi scheme case (SEC v. Utsick) against entertainment promoter John P. "Jack" Utsick, his Worldwide Entertainment Group and other parties. Utsick has reportedly taken asylum in Brazil and failed to appear during final court proceedings. 

Michael I. Golderg
In the matter of the ponzi scheme, Receiver Goldberg had brought a fraudulent transfer case in Florida federal court against Malik (Goldberg v. Malik , Jun 9, 2008) alleging Malik was involved in a $2.1 million fraudulent transfer.   

After the usual legal maneuvering, the Court received a Settlement Agreement (April 29, 2009) in which the Receiver, an attorney with and "shareholder" of Akerman whose associates had simultaneously represented the gambling interests of Malik and/or his affiliates, had revised down the amount of money alleged in the fraudulent transfer from $2.1 million to $620,000 and the parties agreed Malik would repay the Receivership $170,000 in-full within twelve months or be responsible for repaying the entire $620,000 minus any payments. It's not clear if Malik made good on the terms of the Settlement Agreement. 

By the terms of the negotiated Settlement Agreement, Goldberg agreed Malik, a guy who reportedly spent $300,000 on a Las Vegas wedding and paid $5.4 million for a Manhattan Penthouse both in early in 2010,  would repay just 8% of the funds Goldberg had originally alleged were fraudulently transferred.

It unclear whether Receiver Goldberg or the Court were aware of the following circumstances prior to entering into the Settlement Agreement: 
  • Michael J. Malik, Sr. (as Trustee under the Michael J. Malik Revocable Living Trust dated 5/13/98) and Jack Utsick (as President, The Entertainment Group Fund, Inc.) organized AB Funding Company, L.L.C., a Detroit-based enterprise, on March 10, 2000.  In court documents it was revealed the pair were introduced by Bruce Glatman.

It is also unclear whether or not Malik ever disclosed his relationships with Akerman associates in D.C.; Goldberg ever checked for conflicts; and/or if those details were ever disclosed to the Court:
  • From 2007-2011 Akerman has represented the Shinnecock Indians and the Shinnecock paid $510,000 to Akerman.  Akerman represented the Bay Mills Indians during 2008 & 2009 but there are no records that Akerman was compensated directly for that work. Malik or his affiliates either pay directly or funnel funds to other parties responsible for paying the lobbying bills for these Native American entities.  Should these parties get approvals to build casinos in the future, Malik affiliates have the exclusive rights to develop, manager and operate the gambling halls.

It is noted that since Malik and Goldberg entered into the Settlement Agreement, the Shinnecock have paid Akerman approximately $250,000 or nearly half of all the payments Akerman has received from Malik affiliates/partners; and Akerman terminated representation of the Bay Mills Indian Community.  Since the Shinnecock achieved Federal Recognition, Akerman has continued to be paid, at least $70,000.

D'Amato's Online Gambling Group Bankrolled by Foreign Interests; Now he's behind Detroiter's Casino Schemes for Belmont Race Track

Foreign Money Fuels Faltering Bid to Push Online Poker

By Eric Lipton

WASHINGTON — For the past four years, the foreign companies that control the global Internet poker industry have helped bankroll an elaborate lobbying campaign here, seeking to keep the United States from shutting their American operations down.

Former Senator Alfonse M. D’Amato, Republican of New York, has been the public face of the effort [Poker Players Alliance,], which has included charity poker tournaments featuring members of Congress, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to a disparate assortment of lawmakers, including Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the majority leader.

But late last week, the United States Justice Department delivered an unexpected thunderbolt to this huge lobbying campaign when it indicted top executives at PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, accusing them of fraud and money laundering. In doing so the government has taken on a politically powerful industry that for a while seemed like it might transform gambling around the world... (Complete Story)
Al D’Amato is also founder and managing director of Park Strategies LLC, a lobbying firm with upwards of $3.5 million in annual revenues. A gambling affiliate (Gateway Casino Resorts) organized by Detroiters Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik to secure an opportunity to operate an Indian casino on Long Island, retained D’Amato’s firm this year.

One of D’Amato’s Park Strategies associates is Anthony Cancellieri, former Chief Deputy County Executive of Nassau County. D’Amato got his start in politics when he was appointed Public Administrator of Nassau County and from 1977-1980 he was vice chairman of the Nassau County Board of Supervisors. The Detroiters’ current scheme would include developing and operating a casino for the Shinnecock Indian Nation at Belmont Race Track in Nassau County.

D'Amato's advocacy group is also a major contributor to U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the majority leader.  The Detroiters have failed to win support from Reid for their various Indian casino schemes across the U.S. and in some cases Reid has blocked/stopped their progress.

Sovereignty for Native Hawaiians Could be a Boom to Native Gaming There

From the National Journal's Almanac
Hawaii State Profile
The second peculiar characteristic of Hawaii is its aloha spirit. This great asset could become a liability if Hawaii goes too far on Native Hawaiian sovereignty. The commemoration of the overthrow of Liliuokalani has led the state government to set up a process for Native Hawaiians to decide if they want sovereignty, though no one is quite sure what that means. In September 1996, 30,000 eligibles with some Native blood (there are only a few hundred pure native Hawaiians left) voted 73% yes on the question, "Shall the Hawaiian people elect delegates to propose a native Hawaiian government?" It seems unlikely they will want to be a separate nation, or that Congress will let them; some leaders of native groups call for "nation within a nation" status, with dual citizenship, limited return of lands, and restoration of Hawaiian culture, which also seems a nonstarter. Others want the same status as recognized Indian tribes, which would allow Native gambling -- a bonanza in the one of two American states (Utah is the other) which allows no gambling of any kind. Cayetano says sovereignty will be fine if it is "acceptable to the non-Hawaiians, as well as the United States government"; the four-member Hawaiian congressional delegation promised to abide by the results of the referendum.

Al D'Amato retained to advance Detroiters Long Island Casino Schemes is also leading fight for online gaming

Former U.S. Senator Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) is Chairman of the Board of the Poker Players Alliance (  From 2005 through 2011, Poker Players Alliance paid more than $15 million to D.C. lobbying firms who helped them advance their agenda.

Poker Players Alliance
Mission Statement

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) is a non-profit membership organization comprised of online and offline poker players. Our membership consists of enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and protect the right to play poker in all its forms.

The PPA’s mission is to establish favorable laws that provide poker players with a secure, safe and regulated place to play. Through education and awareness the PPA will keep this game of skill, one of America’s oldest recreational activities, free from egregious government intervention and misguided laws.

The PPA is committed to defending the rights of poker players. On behalf of our broad membership, we will promote and protect poker through advocacy work in Washington, D.C., and throughout the nation. The Poker Players Alliance will work with key lawmakers to ensure a thoughtful and productive dialogue that represents everyone who enjoys and wants to protect the game.

But the PPA’s most powerful resource is its membership base, the players. Through our Web site,, and through direct contact with our members, the Poker Players Alliance is empowering poker players and enthusiasts to deliver positive messages about the game and why it should be protected to federal, state, and local elected representatives.

D'Amato is also founder and managing director of the Park Strategies LLC lobbying firm.  That firm was retained this year by Gateway Casino Resorts, a gaming affiliate of Detroiters Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik. Gateway has the exclusive rights to develop, manage and operate Shinnecock Indian Nation casinos on Long Island (NY).

Malik, a controversial wheeler-dealer, has failed to obtain a Michigan gaming license.  As such, in 1999 he was forced out of the original partnership group that founded Detroit's MotorCity Casino.  Upon that failure, Malik sought to develop online gaming opportunities under various affiliates but given U.S. restrictions on such, has put those schemes on hold up until now.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

MotorCity Casino Workers Told to Pay Health Care Costs or Face Job Lose; MGM Grand Detroit workers say, 'Hell No!" reject contract | Crain's Detroit Business

MGM Grand Detroit workers reject contract, will stay on the job | Crain's Detroit Business
Unionized workers at the MGM Grand Detroit casino have voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract.

The rejection comes after workers at Greektown Casino-Hotel and MotorCity Casino Hotel both approved the contract.

Employees voted 1,481 to 292 against the contract, according to the Facebook page of UAW Local 7777, one of five unions that make up the Detroit Casino Council coalition of unions.

Also in the council: Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Local 24, Teamsters Local 372, Operating Engineers Local 547 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

The unions are reportedly planning to picket in front of the casino this weekend, but employees will be reporting to work.

The action follows a tense stare-down last week that nearly resulted in a strike.

The Detroit Casino Council authorized a strike two weeks ago, then filed two extensions before reaching an agreement in principal last Wednesday.

The deal reportedly includes a $2,500 signing bonus for employees but also a deductable for health insurance coverage.

MotorCity Casino has struggled somewhat financially because, among other things, it hasn't produced what had been anticipated and Mrs. Ilitch has leveraged its assets more highly than had been projected. But even more significant, Marian Ilitch and her unlicensed gambling partner Michael Malik are draining millions from MotorCity Casino out of Detroit to finance their failed quests to open additional gambling halls in New York, California and Hawaii. It's a shame that they're draining profits at the same time they're telling MotorCity Casino workers they'll have to start paying for health care or be faced with job loses. Ilitch and her husband Mike are now worth $2 billion -- that's $300,000 more than a year ago.

See also:

Champerty: the White Man's Latest Way to Access the Benefits of Native Gaming

Detroiter's Michael Malik and Marian Ilitch organized a gaming syndication, Gateway Casino Resorts, and other affiliates, to bankroll the legal process and other expenses associated with expediting the Federal Recognition process for the Shinnecock Indian Nation. In exchange for bankrolling Recognition, the Detroiters bargained for exclusive rights to develop, manage and operate any gambling hall that the Shinnecock might have the right to pursue once they had won Recognition. Some suggest such is "Champerty."

In addition to bankrolling the Shinnecock legal expenses, the Detroiters reportedly paid now-disgraced businessman and convicted felon Ivy Ong $25 million for the assignment of an earlier such agreement he had with the Shinnecock.

In essence, the Detroiters bargained with the Shinnecock and agreed to bankroll their legal matter in trade for any casino development rights the Shinnecock might be eligible for as a result of Federal Recognition.

noun - \ˈcham-pər-tē\
Definition of CHAMPERTY
: a proceeding by which a person not a party in a suit bargains to aid in or carry on its prosecution or defense in consideration of a share of the matter in suit

[From Middle English champartie, from Middle French champart (part of the field: a feudal lord's share of his tenant's crop), from champ (field), from Latin campus (field) + part.]

"Champerty, which is illegal in many, but not all, states, occurs when someone helps pay the costs of someone else's lawsuit in exchange for a share of any proceeds." Wade Lambert and Arthur S Hayes; Investing in Patents to File Suits is Curbed; The Wall Street Journal (New York); May 30, 1990.

Shinnecock Casino Part of Nassau County Executive's Plan

Blogger’s NOTE: As you read this post, let’s not forget that Detroiters Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik (Gateway Casino Resorts) hired the lobbying firm of former U.S. Senator Alfonse D’Amato this past summer and that among that firm's stable of lobbyists is Anthony Cancellieri, the former Chief Deputy County Executive of Nassau County.  That the Ilitch Family manages Detroit's Comerica Park and Joe Louis; owns the Detroit Tigers (MLB) and Detroit Red Wings (NHL).  That Michael Malik has attempted to launch various "homeland security" business ventures. That Marian Ilitch and Michael Malik bankrolled the Shinnecock Indian Nation's fight for Federal Recognition in order to secure the exclusive rights to develop and manage any future Shinnecock casinos on Long Island, nearest New York City (Island of Manhattan).


Nassau County officials submitted an extensive economic development plan to the state Friday that envisions creating a bioscience research and development park and a new Nassau Coliseum in the Hub.

The proposal also focuses on Belmont Park as a site of new sports and entertainment options, including a potential soccer stadium, as well as expanding homeland security research facilities and film and television studios at the Grumman property in Bethpage.

The plan suggests that Belmont could be an alternative site for the Coliseum if the bioscience park would take up the entire 77-acre Hub site. It also reiterates County Executive Edward Mangano's earlier proposal for a Shinnecock Indian Nation casino at Belmont.

"It ties in with the colleges, it ties in to the job development plan, it ties into the skilled labor force here," Mangano said. "There's just a synergy for it in our region."

The proposal suggests 6,000 permanent jobs would be created at the Coliseum site alone.

The county is primarily asking for $253 million in state money for infrastructure and roadway improvements. It would still have to seek private developers for the rest of the proposals.

Nassau sent its application to the state's Empire State Development Corp. Friday as a "transformative project." The submission will first compete with other economic development projects across Long Island. Then the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council will choose top projects to compete with nine other regions for $200 million in state funds. The state's decision is expected in December.

Going forward, there will be an additional $800 million in state dollars available through various grants, tax credits and other funding streams.

The Ronkonkoma Hub, the Mall at Oyster Bay at the former Cerro Wire site and Heartland Town Square in Brentwood, among others, are also competing for funds.

"I think ours is a very practical plan that creates jobs in 2012 and that will give it the appeal the state is looking for," Mangano said.

Titled "Accelerate Nassau Now," the plan proposes 5.4 million square feet of development at the 77-acre Coliseum site. The centerpiece of the effort is a bioscience innovation facility -- a 50-acre research and development park that could be home to out-of-state companies hoping to expand.

A new Coliseum would be built at the northern edge of the property, although the county is also entertaining proposals for a renovated arena. A 6,000-car, $150 million parking garage would be shared between bioscience offices and the Coliseum.

The site would have room for housing and the existing Long Island Marriott.Beyond the site itself, the county proposes a $7 million state-funded research and development exposition center on other county land at Mitchell Field, where bioscience conferences could be held. The county also hopes to include a minor league ballpark and track and field facility there.

Labor unions said they support efforts to redevelop the Hub, which the county projects would create 7,500 new construction jobs.

Officials expect the parking garage and roadway improvements could be completed over the next two years. A request for proposals would be issued once state funding decisions are made in December.

What's in the new plan
Among the proposals in the "Accelerate Nassau Now" plan released Friday are:
  • A 50-acre Bioscience Innovation Facility -- a research and development park.
  • A new Nassau Coliseum at the northern edge of the Hub site.
  • A 6,000-car, $150 million parking garage at the site.
  • New sports and entertainment options at Belmont Park, including a potential soccer stadium.
  • Expanding homeland security research facilities and film and television studios at the Grumman property in Bethpage.
  • A $7 million state-funded research and development exposition center at Mitchell Field.
  • A minor league baseball park and track and field facility at Mitchell Field.

UPDATES: Follow @RandiMarshall on Twitter

Concerns Raised that "Investors" like Ivy Ong, Ilitch Family are Dangerous to Tribes' Long Term Interests

By John A. Strong
Professor Emeritus , Long Island University

...Ivy Ong, apparently frustrated that Peebles’ initial legal strategy had been rejected by Judge Platt, was reported to be negotiating the sale of his majority interest in the Shinnecock casino with [Michael Malik and ] Michael and Marian Ilitch, who own Little Caesar’s Pizza, the  Detroit Tigers, the Detroit Red Wings and MotorCity Casino.

 Tribes have had to rely on sources of money and support which have their own agendas.  Signed agreements with tribes stipulating a specific percentage of the anticipated casino profits, for example, can be used as collateral to raise money for another enterprise.  Investors, such as Ivy Ong and the Ilitch family, are willing to spend huge sums of money in the hopes that there will be a profitable payoff in casino profits.
If there is no immediate pay-off, they move on, often leaving the tribe in disarray.  There is a danger that a small tribe will find it difficult to protect its own long term interests when dealing with such wealthy, highly sophisticated groups of investors and their teams of lawyers and public relations consultants...

Shinnecock Casino Interests Want to Influence Senators Schumer & Gillibrand, Rep. Bishop

Voice of the Nation

A Shinnecock Indian Nation newsletter indicates tribal leaders went to Washington D.C. during this past year to meet with representatives of Senators Charles Schumer (D) & Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and with Rep. Tim Bishop (D) to lobby them on the ability of Indian nations to take land into trust for gaming and non-gaming purposes and on federal appropriations that could be directed to Shinnecock tribal programs. Schumer has been an opponent of Shinnecock federal recognition and the tribe’s casino development plans. Bishop is opposed to a casino in Hampton Bays but believes there are appropriate locations elsewhere in Suffolk County.

Rodney Capel, a lobbyist for the Shinnecock / Gateway Casinos previously worked for Sen. Schumer. Capel’s firm, Mercury Public Affairs, has been paid more than $1.23 million to advance schemes the Shinnecock have in partnership with Detroit casino interests to build off-reservation casinos in New York on Long Island. 

Those same Detroit interests have given nearly $42,000 to campaign committees directly supporting the re-elections of Bishop, Gillibrand and Schumer.  Additionally, they’ve given more than $210,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee; funds that were available to support the re-elections of Gillibrand and Schumer.

Timothy H. Bishop (D)
 $   4,900.00
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
 $  12,800.00
Charles E. Schumer (D)
 $  24,200.00

During the 2010 election cycle; several New York legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo actually rejected campaign contributions from Malik because of Malik’s controversial background.

Rep. Bishop indicated he too would consider rejecting contributions from Malik but in March 2011, after winning re-election, Bishop banked another $2,500 check from Mike Malik.

See also:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Could This Be Another Ploy by Detroiters Who Want Gambling in Hawaii? Or is it a smokescreen for something else?


By Andrew Pereira
HONOLULU- A recent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Ko Olina developer Jeff Stone includes a description of the resort as ‘providing casino facilities.’

The application was made October 7 as Stone sought to trademark the name Ko Olina for his holding company, Ko Olina Intangibles LLC.

Khon2 brought the trademark application to the attention of Dianne Kay, president of the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling.

"That would be the last place I would want to go if I were taking my family to a resort or a hotel in Hawaii or anyplace else,” said Kay, who noted last month Disney opened its Aulani Resort and Spa at Ko Olina, which is billed as a family friendly getaway.

In a statement Mr. Stone’s public relations company said the inclusion of ‘casino facilities’ in the trademark application was done by a mainland filing agency, and was not intentional.

“The inclusion of ‘casino facilities’ was basically an administrative oversight, particularly given Hawaii does not allow gambling,” read the statement by Sheila Donnelly & Associates. “An amendment is being filed to have “casino facilities” removed from the application.”

However another trademark filing approved by the USPTO in October of 2008 also mentions ‘providing casino facilities’ as one of the possible forms of entertainment at Ko Olina, which has been tied to gambling in the past.

In 2001, Ko Olina Resort was mentioned as a possible site for a stand along casino when former Gov. Ben Cayetano contemplated the possibility of legalized gambling. Anti-gaming advocates were successful in pushing back the effort, even as Hawaii’s economy suffered in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9-11.

Flash forward to present day and the Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling is gearing up for what could be its toughest battle yet. A bevy of gaming bills is expected during the upcoming legislative session in mid-January.

“The situation has changed somewhat,” said Kay, “however we have confidence the legislature will do the right thing and not want to jeopardize the growing tourist industry.”

John Radcliffe, a well connected Honolulu lobbyist, confirmed Tuesday he’s been hired by Marketing Resource Group to try and persuade state lawmakers about the economic benefits of gambling. TheMichigan based company represents MotorCity Casino, Gateway Casino Resorts and Barwest Gambling, L.L.C., according to its website.

“I think a stand along casino is the way to go,” Radcliffe told KHON2. “I would imagine that there will be dozens of interested parties that will want to bid on the potential of a casino in Hawaii.”

During the last legislative session a House bill (HB781 HD1) for a stand alone casino in Waikiki was stalled by members of the Judiciary Committee. The bill would have created the Hawaii Gaming Control Commission, and required a $1 million non-refundable deposit from companies interested in applying for the casino permit.

Although Gov. Neil Abercrombie has not taken an official position on gambling, spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said he would “consider” any bill that reached his desk.

Kay is worried the governor’s new communications director, Jim Boersema, could influence Abercrombie’s position on gaming. Boersema worked as a pro-gambling lobbyist in 2001 when Ko Olina was floated as a possible location for a stand alone casino.

"I think that Jim Boersema will try to influence him,” said Kay, “but hopefully the governor will also do the right thing.”

House Majority Leader Blake Oshiro believes any gambling measure will be met with tough skepticism by state lawmakers, especially since the Council on Revenues recently predicted 14.5 percent growth to the state’s general fund during the current fiscal year.

“We'll have a debate and discussion (about gambling) but chances of it having success at the end are fairly slim,” said Oshiro. “The ultimate concern is always the social ills and whether the infusion of capital that we do get from gaming actually gets outweighed by the cost that we end up having to pay out.”

MotorCity Casino Workers Give Back Gains to Keep Jobs; Ilitch gets richer

Casino workers agree to givebacks
Greektown's unions vote for deal with health care changes
Detroit— Workers voted Tuesday to ratify a four-year agreement with MotorCity Casino.

Nearly 70 percent of the MotorCity workers who voted approved the new contract, compared to 74 percent at Greektown on Monday.

Union workers at MGM Grand Detroit will vote Thursday.

"As a trustee of the local and a member of the bargaining team for Teamsters Local 372, I'm elated with the 'yes' vote," valet Mark Williams said in a statement issued Tuesday night by the local, which represents valets, front desk staff, phone operators, warehouse, grounds and general workers. Williams has worked at MotorCity for nine years.

"This was a tough set of contract talks when you factor in the difficulty of our region, but our bargaining team worked hard with our membership and at the negotiation table to get the best possible agreement for our members," said Dave DeLong, president of Teamsters Local 372.

The Detroit Casino Council, a coalition of five unions, including the Teamsters, represents nearly 6,000 union members at Detroit's three gambling houses. While the Detroit Casino Council did not release details, UNITE HERE Local 24 indicated on its website that workers would make monthly payments on health care coverage.

Greektown, which last year emerged from bankruptcy protection, has posted a 1.8 percent revenue loss through the first nine months of the year.

Revenue grew at MotorCity and MGM Grand through the first three quarters this year.

"It seems to me that this is a tough time economically, and workers in many industries, especially unionized workers in nontechnology industries, are being convinced they have to give back gains to save jobs," said Frank Fantini, editor and publisher of Fantini's Gaming & Lodging Reports in Delaware.

All three casinos assumed large debt loads to build new casinos and hotels required by Detroit, said Jake Miklojcik, a Lansing-based gaming consultant who sat on Greektown's board of directors during bankruptcy. The casinos make mediocre profit margins compared with other industries, he said.

"You don't have as much wiggle room because of the debt," he said.

Forbes reported in September that Mike & Marian Ilitch are worth $2 billion.  That's up from $1.7 billion in 2010.  Marian Ilitch owns Detroit's MotorCity Casino.

See also:

Detroiter Mike Malik isn't the First Shady Character to push Shinnecock Casinos on Long Island

hen-Oklahoma businessman Ivy Ong was the first to bankroll and push Shinnecock Casino plans. After electing new Shinnecock tribal leaders who were supportive of Ong’s scheme, the tribe entered into an agreement with Ong and ONG Enterprises on May 1, 2003, which gave Ong exclusive rights to develop and manage a Shinnecock casino. By the time Ong came to partner with the Shinnecock he already had a shady past. Subsequently, he pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges and was fined by the National Indian Gaming Commission for improper involvement with Seminole Indian gaming activities.

New York Times
The Big Gamble 3.23.2003

By Julia Mead

...Mr. Ong, who served four months under house arrest for his part in a 1995 counterfeit baby-formula scheme, called his guilty plea to misdemeanor charges a matter of expediency. He also disputed press reports that he patronized a slain Las Vegas loan shark and is a subject of a federal grand jury probe into the Seminoles' gaming operation in Oklahoma...

Long Island Business News
Oklahoma developer confirms Shinnecock casino deal7.13.2003

by Rosamaria Mancini
 Ivy Ong, a prominent Oklahoma developer best known for his work on gaming facilities, confirmed this week that he has signed a contract with the Shinnecock Indian Nation to build a casino on the East End of Long Island. Ong, a controversial figure with a criminal record, said he would provide the necessary funding for a 65,000-square-foot casino on a 79- acre site in Hampton Bays known as Westwoods... Ong has helped the Seminole Nation and Iowa Nation tribes build casinos. His criminal record stems from a counterfeit baby-formula scheme in 1996, according to news reports that cite court records. He pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges in federal court and testified against an associate who went to prison. The Daily Oklahoman also reported that his name surfaced in a murder trial as a loan shark customer of slain Las Vegas mobster Herbie Blitzstein. Ong has attributed his conviction to a failure to file paperwork, and he has denied knowing the people involved in the loan shark case...

The Oklahoman | NewsOK
Guilty plea expected in casino corruption

A former casino developer was accused Thursday in a federal conspiracy charge of making illegal payments to at least three officials of the Seminole Nation to let him run tribal casinos. Ivy K. Ong, 65, of California also was accused of failing to pay $199,610 in federal taxes. He is to plead guilty today, his defense attorney, David Ogle, said. The charges:
  • Ong is accused in the charge of paying $44,100 to one tribal official between October 2000 and March 2004. 
  • He is accused of paying $7,190 in January 2002 to get a second tribal official's house out of foreclosure. 
  • He is accused of paying $8,607 in April 2001 to renovate a third official's home... 
In January 2008, the National Indian Gaming Commission issued a final ruling, not involving the Shinnecock, on matters involving the Seminole which found that Ong and Carlo Worldwide Operations LLC had been managing an Indian gaming facility without a contract and improperly held a proprietary interest in Indian gaming activity. NIGC issued a civil fine of $5,150,000.

Ong's Assignment of Shinnecock Agreement to Detroit Interests
On March 19, 2004, according to correspondence from the National Indian Gaming Comission to the Shinnecock Nation Gaming Authority dated March 16, 2011, Ong transferred his Shinnecock casino rights to Gateway Casino Resorts. Some reports suggest Gateway paid Ong $25 million. Gateway Casino Resorts was organized in Detroit during 2003 with membership that includes the leadership of Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr.

Like Ong, Gateway Casino Resorts' Malik Also Has a Controversial and Criminal Past

In 1997 Malik was arrested for beating the 12-year old son of his then-girlfriend in the street of a residential neighborhood and sentenced to probation. In 1999 he was forced from the partnership that founded MotorCity Casino because at that time and subsequently he has failed to receive a commercial gaming license from the Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB). It was reported the 1997 arrest, IRS troubles and perhaps other circumstances contributed to MGCB concerns.

The AP broke a national influence peddling story in 2005 which contributed to the re-election downfall of Rep. Richard Pombo, then chair of the House National Resource Committee. Malik and Christoper litch hosted multiple higher dollar fundraisers at the MLB All Star Game in Detroit benefiting Pombo who was to chair Congressional Hearings on Capitol Hill two days later on the fate of Shinnecock Federal Recognition. Then later, Malik was found (2006 & 2009) on multiple counts to have violated political campaign finance laws and fined $10,500. Malik/Ilitch and affiliates have been associated with other political finance and lobbying scandals.

In 2008, an Arizona Court found Malik guilty of illegal discharge of a firearm; ordered him to community service; and fined him nearly $15,000. Also in 2008, a receiver in a federal ponzi scheme case filed suit in Federal Court (Goldberg v. Malik) alleging Malik’s involvement in a fraudulent transfer and Malik was subsequently ordered to repay $170,000.

Then there is the default on a $1 million line a credit; failure to pay property taxes; foreclosures; certificate of forfeiture, one month marriage to the mother of his 3-year-old son, etc. etc. etc.

News accounts in 2007 reported the chairwoman of the Los Coyotes Band of Indians called Malik “the Devil” and indicated he was “seducing” younger members of her tribe.

Malik’s then wife was forced to tell a Detroit Court in 2010 that he had a history of “bullying, intimidation and influence peddling.”

Gateway Casinos / Shinnecock Lobbyist tied to Schumer, Rangel, Gillibrand; Campaign Funds Flow Their Direction

From Queens Crap: Shinnecocks plan casino at Belmont
The partners [Malik / Ilitch / Gateway Casino Resorts] have hired Mercury Public Affairs, whose star lobbyist is Rodney Capel, a former top official in the state Democratic Party. Capel has also worked for Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Charles Rangel, and Assemblyman Herman (Denny) Farrell.

Discussions on the project, some as recent as two weeks ago, have been held with Gov. Paterson, major state leaders, Rangel, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Schumer's chief of staff, Martin Brennan, said Capel, whose firm has been paid more than $200,000.
Sen. Schumer fought Federal Recognition for the Shinnecock Indian Nation and is a staunch opponent of a Shinnecock casino in Suffolk County. TVT is not aware of any public position taken by Sen. Gillibrand on a Shinnecock Casino but she is likely to defer to the will of locals. Rep. Rangel represents a district in Harlem.

So why have members of Detroit's Ilitch Family and Michael J. Malik written checks for more than $260,000 to committees supporting the re-elections of Schumer, Gillibrand and Rangel?  It would appear as though lobbyist Capel's connections have driven decision making.

Charles B. Rangel (D)
 $  16,200.00
Kirsten Gillibrand (D)
 $  12,800.00
Charles E. Schumer (D)
 $  24,200.00
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Cmte


During the 2010 election cycle; several New York legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo actually rejected campaign contributions from Malik because of his controversial background.  Ilitch/Malik and their affiliates/partners have paid Mercury Public Affairs $1,234,780

See also:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Detroiters Pimping Belmont Casino Plans to Locals; Unsure if nearby business will be harmed

Detroit developer reveals plan renderings
Michael McKeon, Lance Boldrey, former Gov. John Waihee, 
 and Michael J. Malik, Sr. (Gateway Casino Resorts)  

By Jackie Nash
A plan by the Shinnecock Indian Nation to build a casino at Belmont Park has been in the pipeline for several months, generating wide support from the surrounding community but meeting with skepticism from some locals who fear that the development could become a revenue-creating “island” with no spillover revenue for local businesses.

On Oct. 20, Elmont business owners were shown renderings of a preliminary development plan for a casino at the racetrack by Detroit-based casino developer Michael Malik, who also answered several questions about the plan.

Malik, a partner of the Shinnecock tribe and financial backer of its casino plan — which gained momentum when County Executive Ed Mangano announced an Economic Development and Job Creation Plan in May — was the guest speaker at the Elmont Chamber of Commerce’s regular meeting on Oct. 20 at King Umberto’s in Elmont. Michael McKeon, Lance Boldrey and John Waihee, associates of Malik’s, also attended the meeting.

The renderings, which were not allowed to be photographed, depicted a casino with a Victorian-style red brick façade, floor-to-ceiling paneled windows and a copper-patina roof, located on the southwest side of Belmont — close to the Cross Island Parkway, to give patrons easier access — and a reconstructed racetrack structure with the same design. Malik described the collective design as “modernized with a historic feel.”

The drawings also included an irrigation system on the south side of the 430-acre park, beyond the main track, near the Floral Park border, an area that has been prone to flooding. The system would not only help resolve the flooding problem, Malik explained, but would also help keep the track and surrounding green dry. There would also be a VIP viewing area in the center of the main track.

The renderings also include a recreational area and private parking lot on the southern end of the park, an indoor train station and a large central area for parading horses before and after races and showing off winning horses. The alley horses currently take into the park is hidden beneath the bleachers, and the winner’s circle is closer to track level, away from spectators’ view. “A parade of horses would be a focal point with this rendition,” Malik explained. “We want the world to focus on Belmont … we want people who are watching Belmont Stakes on television to want to come.” The building’s height, under the current plan, would be between 12 and 15 stories, he added.

When Chamber of Commerce President Chris Rosado asked Malik whether he thought the casino development might harm nearby businesses, Malik said that although he couldn’t say for sure, he believes that a casino would boost business, since it would be expected to create at least 5,000 jobs. “People are going to be eating and shopping here,” he explained.

Another question posed at the meeting was whether a plan recently proposed to reconstruct the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum at Belmont would affect the casino plan. Malik said that although the Coliseum-Belmont proposal threw him and his partners “for a loop,” he would be supportive of that plan as long as the community was.

“It could be an entertainment plus,” he said. “If I could have a 20,0000-seat arena, that could help us fill seats for the [casino theater] acts inside.”

Comments about this story? or (516) 569-4000 ext. 214.

Ilitch Unlikely to get Taxpayer Subsidies for a New Detroit Hockey Arena

New Detroit hockey arena likely faces funding hurdles
Unlike Comerica Park, Ford Field, public money likely a tough sell this time around

By Louis Aguilar

When Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch recently pledged again to build a new arena in downtown Detroit, economic analysts said it was not an empty promise.

Despite an uncertain economy and a lack of public appetite for sports facility subsidies, building an arena in Detroit is still doable, but would require some creativity, they said.

"He's going to have to make a dramatic statement of faith in Detroit again to build a new hockey arena," said Scott Watkins, an economist for Anderson Economic Group in East Lansing, who has done analyses on building sports venues. A new hockey arena would cost an estimated $300 million to $400 million to construct.

"Mr. Ilitch and Red Wings fans see Hockeytown — a city and region very loyal to professional hockey," Watkins said. "What global lenders see is a risky investment. Their view is there would be no guarantee that for 10, 20, 30 years a hockey franchise can be supported in an area with declining population and declining income."

The hockey arena has been a long quest. Ilitch for five years has actively explored building a new arena downtown to replace the 35-year-old Joe Louis Arena and more recently said he wants to construct such a facility. The hockey team and city-owned Joe Louis Arena are still negotiating an extension of the lease.

"Like I've stated before, we're gonna have a new arena," Ilitch told The Detroit News last month during an exclusive interview. "That's the best thing I can say." On Friday, Ilitch Holdings announced that Eric Larson, an A-list real estate developer with a long track record of high-profile deals, is now in charge of all current and future real estate transactions for Olympia Development, the Ilitch entity that would play a big role in a new hockey arena deal.

There are bigger obstacles for Ilitch to clear on a new arena than he had to overcome to build Comerica Park, the home of his Tigers. The path of public and private financing Ilitch took to create the ballpark is likely unavailable to him now, several analysts contend.

Comerica Park opened in April 2000 and cost $300 million to build. Ilitch paid $185 million of the cost of the stadium, owned by the Detroit-Wayne County Stadium Authority, and subleased to the team. The rest was paid for by the city of Detroit, Wayne County and corporate investors. The state of Michigan provided infrastructure improvements.

The stadium authority issued $85 million in 30-year tourist tax bonds in 1997 for the baseball stadium and, with interest, will pay about $176 million by 2027, according to the stadium authority. The bonds are paid twice yearly with revenue from a 2 percent rental-car tax and 1 percent hotel tax in Wayne County. The tax needed Wayne County voter approval.

In this era of painful budget cutting, getting voter approval for another venue is a tough sell, said Bernie Porn, president of EPIC-MRA, an opinion research firm in Lansing that does polling on statewide issues.

"The Tigers could win the World Series, the Red Wings could win the Stanley Cup, and I still don't see how he (Ilitch) gets voter approval for an arena," Porn said.

"Not that I have done any polling about the issue, but in this climate, I think it would be seen as a billionaire is asking for a tax break," he said. "But if you are asking me if he gets it done, I think that answer is yes."

What Ilitch has is rock-solid support in Michigan's corporate community and plenty of his own resources. Mike Ilitch and his wife, Marian, owner of Detroit's second-largest gaming hall, MotorCity Casino, have a combined fortune of $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine. That includes their Little Caesar's pizza franchise empire headquartered in downtown Detroit.

He also could get major help from other Michigan businesses. In September, the Red Wings announced the organization signed a "presenting" sponsor agreement with Amway, the private Ada-based company owned by the DeVos and Van Andel families. Terms of the multiyear deal were not disclosed, but the deal includes Amway's logo being embedded in the ice and signage elsewhere at Joe Louis Arena, and community programs to help young people in Grand Rapids and Detroit.

What the Ilitch, DeVos and Van Andel families share are deep pockets and a love of professional sports.

Amway co-founder and billionaire Richard DeVos owns the National Basketball Association's Orlando Magic, and the team backed $100 million worth of bonds issued by the city of Orlando to build the $480 million Amway Center, which opened last year.

DeVos also supplied $50 million to help build it and $1 million in rent each year and $40 million to put the Amway name on the building.

"The resources are there for the arena to get done," Watkins said. "I'm looking forward to see what the formula will be."

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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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