Issue 121
January 6-12, 2003
Volume 3
page 1
 

This Issue

Gaming News
Seneca Casino opens in Niagara Falls

Tokyo Governor Pushes for Casinos

Harrah’s Ordered to Pull Old Slots

Detroit Casinos To Add More Coinless Slots

California Tribe Begins Building Casino


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Seneca Casino opens in Niagara Falls

/The Associated Press/ - NIAGARA FALLS, NY - Niagara Falls hit the jackpot New Year's Eve literally.

The Seneca Niagara Casino officially opened, bringing new jobs, tourists, and the hope that the gambling haven will provide a much-needed boost to the economies of the Seneca Nation of Indians and Niagara Falls.

''It's a beautiful day, a day we've all been waiting a long time for,'' said Rick Jemison, chief of staff to the Seneca Nation's president. ''It's finally arrived.'' While Jemison and others spoke at the opening ceremony, a crowd of impatient gamblers stretched around the block chanted, ''Open the door'' and ''Cut the ribbon.''

Officials held up the opening ceremony after Gov. George Pataki was delayed and eventually canceled his appearance. By 1:22 p.m. the ribbon was cut, and the first gamblers entered shortly afterward. By 4:00 p.m., there were about 4,600 people inside the 24-hour casino.

Once inside, the gamblers weren't disappointed. ''It looks to me like this could be a thriving place,'' said Cathy Paeth of Bay City, MI, who had made a side trip to the casino while visiting her sister in Buffalo.

Pam Hamilton, a Seneca Indian, made the short drive from Tonawanda. She and her husband, Rich, won $250 each about an hour apart on two of the 2,265 slot machines.

Hamilton, who used to go to Casino Niagara across the river in Niagara Falls, Ontario, said she will now gamble at the Seneca Niagara casino. ''It's nice to put in American money and get American money back,''
she said.

New York state and the Seneca Nation are banking on a lot of gamblers putting money in. The casino could pump $3 billion into the Seneca Nation's pockets over the course of a 14-year compact with the state.
Pataki and the state Legislature, looking for new sources of revenue to offset the economic turmoil caused by a faltering economy and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, turned to casino gambling in October 2001. The state negotiated a compact that will mean up to six new casinos on Indian land, three in western New York and three in the Catskills. The state expects roughly $300 million a year from all the Seneca's casinos.

Early signs point to business improving. ''I stayed in a hotel across the street and they said it's the first time it's been booked full in they don't know how many years,'' former Seneca Nation President Cyrus
Schindler said.

Bob Bowman brought his wife Lynn from Sea Isle City, N.J., about 13 miles south of Atlantic City, for their first trip to Niagara Falls. ''I've seen a lot more good than bad,'' Bowman said of Atlantic City. ''I don't see how (Niagara Falls) can lose when you've got a gambling Mecca right in your own back door.''


Tokyo Governor Pushes for Casinos

/The Associated Press/ - TOKYO, JAPAN – It was a rare taste of Las Vegas in Tokyo, and for two days the casino crowds hosted by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara pumped the handles of slot machines and bet feverishly on the roulette wheel.

Although better known for his hawkish advocacy of building a stronger, more assertive Japan, Tokyo's often controversial leader has found a new cause celebre: legalized casino-style gambling.

Japan's capital is badly in need of money. Tokyo has been losing money for four years in a row and suffered an $80.65 million deficit in fiscal 2001. Tax revenue is expected to plunge this year, prolonging Tokyo's
fiscal slump.

In a report published in October, the Tokyo government estimated that building casinos could generate $733.87 million in casino revenues, $177.41 million in tax revenue and create 13,800 jobs.

With Japan's economy overall still in a downturn -- unemployment is at record highs, banks are teetering under bad loans and stock prices are at 19-year-lows -- Ishihara isn't alone in courting casinos. More than a dozen mayors and governors from across the country have voiced their support for laws to expand the scope of legal gambling.

Japan is no stranger to gambling. The law here prohibits gaming and betting, but public-run gambling enterprises are common. Gamblers can legally bet on the horses, on bicycle, boat and auto races and also play the lottery.

Privately-operated "pachinko" pinball is also considered a kind of gambling because a legal loophole allows winning prizes to be exchanged for money. The annual payout amounts to some $241.94 billion, about three times as much as Las Vegas' annual earnings.

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