Friday, January 27, 2012

Hawaii Gambling Advocates Push for Slots at Honolulu Convention Center

Hawaii gaming supporter wants to place slot machines at Honolulu convention center

By Howard Stutz

If it’s January, then it’s time for another casino gaming proposal to surface in Hawaii.

Gambling proponents believe Honolulu’s 15-year-old convention center would be the perfect location for slot machine casino. Revenues from the games would help pay for a renovation to the facility.

Randy Tanaka, the assistant general manager of the convention center told KITV News, Honolulu’s ABC affiliate, that he was not aware anyone was pushing gaming proposals for the center.

“It’s news to me,” said Tanaka.

Hawaii is one just two states, along with Utah, that does not have any form of legalized gaming.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority said it has not taken a position on gambling, but longtime gambling supporter Joe Souki told the TV station the convention center is under consideration.

“There is some possibility we could put it there and start it off quickly,” said the Maui lawmaker.

Souki has introduced a bill for a stand-alone entertainment center and casino. It calls for a single casino, centrally located in Waikiki and not attached to any hotel.

Other bills in the Hawaii Legislature would allow Internet gambling, slot machines in resort areas and at the Honolulu International Airport.

In the past gaming legalization bills have faced stiff opposition from opponents.

Blogger's Note: Gambling lobbyist John Radcliffe and his clients Detroit gambling industry clients have previously floated the idea of converting some or all of the existing Convention Center space into a gambling and entertainment venue.  The Detroit gambling interests have some experience converting existing space into gambling use and they have experience working with publicly owned arenas and convention centers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Editorial: Lansing casino would be a lousy bet for Michigan

By Editors, Detroit Free Press

As only the most recent arrivals in the long line of players looking for a piece of Michigan's casino gambling action, Lansing and Mayor Virg Bernero should know better.

Artist's Rendering: Proposed Kewadin Lansing Casino
Michigan voters made it quite clear (58%-42%) in 2004 that they did not want more gambling in the state unless any expansion was subject to a statewide vote. Ever since, casino dreamers have tried to build upon the constitutional amendment's only exemption, which allows tribal gambling over which the state has virtually no control anyway.

But tribal casinos are restricted to their own reservations. Every tribe that has tried to work around that restriction to date has come up empty-handed. The most recent attempt, a casino in Vanderbilt that the Bay Mills tribe opened in 2010, shut down after a federal court ruled against it. Earlier attempts included asking Congress to sign off on tribal casinos in Port Huron and Romulus, an effort that fell short.

Now Bernero is entering the same fray with the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians at his side. They will either have to go to Congress or hope that the Bay Mills tribe eventually wins its court case in further hearings and sets a new precedent for defining reservation land. But neither the federal courts nor Congress should fall for the dubious logic involved.

Unless a casino can become a major destination for out-of-state travelers, it largely churns local money and removes much of it from the economy. Casinos rank as economic development tools only as part of a mix of entertainment options or, if properly promoted, as a lure for visitors. If Michigan were to develop a statewide casino strategy, Port Huron would probably better fit the development bill as the only border town without a casino.

Lansing residents -- and Michigan State students -- are already within an hour's drive of two of Michigan's 22 Indian casinos. They are hardly out of range of Detroit's casinos, either.

Presumably Bernero and the Sault tribe have marketing studies to back up their estimates of $250 million in annual revenue, with at least $5 million returned directly to the city. (By way of comparison, Detroit's casinos were estimated to have revenues of $1.4 billion in 2011 -- a figure they may never match again if a Toledo casino opens in April, as planned.) Certainly Lansing, like virtually every city in Michigan, would delight in the projected 1,500 new jobs.

But if Lansing succeeds, it will create a precedent not just for itself but for every other city that thinks a casino is the answer to its prayers. Michigan's voters have already said they don't want to go that route -- and praying for salvation via a casino is only a reminder of how desperate people become in tough economic times.

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Blogger’s NOTE:  Odd that owners of Detroit’s MGM Grand Casino and Greektown Casino have expressed opposition to plans for a Lansing casino while Marian Ilitch, owner of Detroit’s MotorCity Casino, has remained silent?  Not really, since Ilitch and her family’s partner Michael J. Malik, Sr., have pursued plans for casinos in Port Huron and elsewhere for more than 20 years.  In fact, their plans for a Port Huron casino might be tied to plans by the Sault tribe proposal for Lansing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

But 54% Think Gambling in Hawaii Would Have Overall Negative Impact


Three-quarters of people in a new survey say they would visit an entertainment center in Waikiki that had showrooms, movie theaters and a casino.

The Waikiki Improvement Association paid for the survey to measure local perceptions about the state's primary tourism destination. The results will likely be used to reinforce arguments by gaming interests that the state should legalize gambling.

Hawaii and Utah are the only two states without some form of gambling. Several proposals, including a Waikiki casino, have been floated at the Legislature without success.

The survey, conducted among 1,000 people statewide by SMS Research & Marketing Services, found that 76 percent would be very or somewhat likely to visit an entertainment center with a casino developed in Waikiki. The survey was taken by telephone between Nov. 15 and Dec. 22. The margin of error was 3.1 percentage points...

People who responded to the survey were divided about the merits of legalizing gambling. Fifty-eight percent said they believe gambling would be positive for the state's economy. But 54 percent think gambling would have a negative impact overall.

Many people who favor a casino are lifelong residents, according to the survey, while many opposed have lived in the islands for less than five years.

Egged said the Waikiki Improvement Association has not taken a position on gambling and is not advocating any specific casino development project.

State House and Senate leaders have said that they expect gambling bills to be debated but doubt legislation to legalize gambling would pass this session.

"There's enough to do in Waikiki without a casino," said state Senate Majority Leader Brickwood Galuteria (D, Downtown-Waikiki). "But the question of gaming is not going to go away."

State Rep. Tom Brower (D, Waikiki-Ala Moana), chairman of the House Tourism Committee, said lawmakers should be open to a discussion about a Waikiki casino. He said he has visited well-executed casinos in Singapore, Macau and the Philippines.

"In order to compete, I think we have to consider gambling," he said. (Complete Story)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Opinion: New York Betting Too Much on Gambling


By Karl Grossman 

The current issue of New York magazine speaks of Governor Andrew Cuomo seeking “gambling everywhere.” That’s a bit of an exaggeration. In his recent State of the State speech, Mr. Cuomo called for a change in the state constitution to allow for non-Indian, off-reservation casinos in New York, which currently prohibits them. It’s not “gambling everywhere” but the governor does want a major expansion of legalized gambling.

“Cuomo Bets On A Casino” was the headline in Newsday. It referred specifically to Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens as a place where the governor wants to see a big casino.

A casino there would be a problem for the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which wants to build a casino at nearby Belmont Park in Elmont. Newsday quoted State Senator Jack Martins of Mineola as saying a casino at Aqueduct would “effectively kill” plans for a Shinnecock casino at Belmont. A broader concern is whether or not the legalized gambling market is being saturated by casinos opening all over the nation, -Native American and non-Indian.

Mr. Cuomo is betting on a big financial boost for New York State through a major expansion of legalized gambling here but the market has its limits.

The day of Mr. Cuomo’s State of the State speech, the New York Times reported on the “hopes of reviving Atlantic City.” Gambling revenue was down in Atlantic City, the Times reported, and there’s hope that a new $2.4 billion resort and casino, being built with state financial help, will “usher in a new era for Atlantic City.”

“Atlantic City has been in decline since 2006,” the Times reported, “when Pennsylvania opened its first casino, beginning a slow bleed of gamblers that have never returned. With rival casinos opening in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and upstate New York, there is little Atlantic City can do to stop the loss …”

This spread of gambling has not only hurt Atlantic City but Las Vegas, too, and severely. Factor in the impact of the recession on gambling and it would seem the industry is in trouble. So how can New York State figure on a big win?

But that’s the dream -or illusion-, not only in New York but other areas of the nation. A Times story last month reported on the Florida Legislature considering three “Las Vegas-style casino resorts” in south Florida to offset the economic downturn following the burst of Florida’s big real estate bubble.

Meanwhile, what about gambling as a way for Indian tribes to break out of centuries of economic hard times? That was the basis of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, the federal law that set up a system under which Native Americans were given the go-ahead -and structure- to develop gambling.
It was a kind of long-delayed reparation for Native Americans for the loss of their homeland and culture and it has made some tribes-, including several in Connecticut-, super-wealthy.

These days, if you take a drive on the stretch of New Mexico between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, you’ll come upon a gambling casino every few miles, in front of each Indian pueblo, with few cars in their parking lots. And in recent years, with non-Indians being allowed to get into gambling elsewhere, it’s not just intra-Indian competition that’s diluting the market.

Although legalized gambling had to come, it’s a problematic activity for society. There are the high-rollers at casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City and Connecticut. My impression of the bulk of bettors, however, is that they are desperate people who mostly play the one-armed bandits, dumping in their quarters, hoping for a bonanza.

For society to benefit by drawing money from legalized gambling- as it cannot from illegal gambling- is one thing. But to promote it, subsidize it and depend on it is another.

Then there’s the over-expansion, and the consequent cost to Native Americans including the Shinnecocks, who have had it tough economically for centuries and only recently achieved federal tribal recognition. They had been hoping for some payback, finally. Now the house may be rigging the game against them.

Opponents of Detroiters' Belmont Casino Plans Launch Website

A Long Island citizens group opposing plans by Detroiters Marian Ilitch and Michael J. Malik, Sr., to build a casino complex in partnership with the Shinnecock Indian Nation at the famed Belmont Racetrack have organized as "Stop the Belmont Casino" and established a website,
The citizens' group has also created a facebook page.

Former NIGC Chair Opines Sault Tribe's Plans for Lansing Casino are Illegal

In this letter below, Phil Hogen, former chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), opines on plans by the Sault St. Marie tribe of Chippewa Indians to develop an off-reservation casino in Lansing Michigan.

In conclusions, Hogen writes:
In view of my experience as the longest-serving Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, I was asked to review this matter by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, whose concern for integrity in the Indian gaming industry I share. Unless it is first determined that lands where tribes conduct their gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act truly qualify as Indian Lands, that integrity is at peril, and all concerned need to observe and uphold the applicable laws.

Phil Hogen Letter Re Lansing Casino

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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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