Issue 235
March 14 - 20, 2005
Volume 5
page 2
 

No city yet willing to bet on casino
As reported by Minnesota Public Radio

ST. PAUL Minnesota - The scope of Gov. Pawlenty's casino proposal is enormous. It's a $550 million development that would create at least 3,000 jobs. There is also the promise of what the Pawlenty administration calls a significant host fee to the community where the casino is built, probably about $10 million a year.

Usually when governments even utter hints of large-scale investment and job creation, cities vigorously compete for the development.

But so far that's not been the case with the state-tribal casino.

Among a handful of locations mentioned as a possible site is the city of Burnsville. Burnsville City Manager Craig Ebeling says unlike other proposed developments, the casino comes with a lot of unknowns.

"Typically when we're working, trying to attract businesses we know a lot about those companies," Ebeling explains. "We're able to visit their existing sites and have them tell us about what their business is and get a good handle on what kind of facility they might be contemplating building in our community, and we have a lot of information on them. This is a little bit different situation. We're not sure what the implications would be."

University of Minnesota Extension Service economic development expert Michael Darger says he's not surprised by the reaction from Burnsville and other economic development officials.

"Casino economic development is something new for Minnesota communities other than, of course, the American Indian bands and tribes. So if there's a little caution on the part of economic developers it's not surprising to me, because this is not something that they're experienced with," Darger says. "It's not something that their analytical tools are designed to help them assess."

Gov. Pawlenty's Chief of Staff Dan McElroy says what cities should be thinking about is how a casino could spark further development.

"Look at Cabela's in Owatonna on Interstate 35," McElroy says. "Look what's developed around it. Two or three hotels, four restaurants, a strip center, another museum. It has spurred development, tourist impact, community interest around Owatonna. I think it's at least possible that a casino facility would do the same thing in Minnesota."

But a casino is different from a Cabela's. Consider, says Darger from the U of M, the fact that casinos don't shut down.

"I know in my own community in northeast Minneapolis, just whether Home Depot could stay open extra hours is a controversial issue. And you look at a casino doing a 24/7 thing, there's certainly an impact on the neighbors and the district. Those are fundamental questions to a community," Darger says. "What does it want to be and how does it want to manage activities like that? And that takes time."

Although the casino debate has thus far failed to trigger a civic bidding war for the development, it has fueled at least one pocket of citizen opposition.

North of the Twin Cites near Forest Lake in Columbus Township, a group of residents calling themselves "Columbus Concerned Citizens" is convinced a harness horse racetrack and card room that's already won approval for development is little more than a first step toward casino gambling.

The leader of the citizens group, Don Steinke, says Columbus residents should demand a better project for the site.

"We want it to develop with positive development that will bring good paying jobs to this area," Steinke says. "We're looking at this as not really the highest and best use for this property."

While no community has yet publicly stepped forward in pursuit of the proposed casino, the Pawlenty administration says it's been getting a lot of inquires. Chief of staff McElroy says it's premature to speculate on a site, even though Pawlenty's plan calls for opening a temporary casino at the site of the permanent structure within six months of legislative approval.

 

 

 


Las Vegas Sands in Deal for Macau Casino
As reported by the Associated Press

HONG KONG - U.S. casino operator Las Vegas Sands will team up with Hong Kong's Regal Hotels International on a hotel-casino project in the booming southern Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, the Hong Kong company said Monday.

The first phase of the project in Macau's Cotai area will offer at least 1,500 rooms, a casino and a showroom for large performances, Regal Hotels said in a statement posted on the Web site of Hong Kong's stock exchange.

The statement said Regal Hotels International Ltd. will build the complex and Las Vegas Sands Inc. will lease and run the casino and showroom.

It said construction of the hotel-casino's initial phase is scheduled for completion by late 2007. The hotel and casino portions of the project will be expanded later, it said.

Las Vegas Sands is among the new casino players in Macau since 2002 when the local government ended a four-decade monopoly held by tycoon Stanley Ho.

The U.S. company opened the Sands Macau casino in May and hopes to develop Cotai into Macau's version of the Las Vegas Strip.

The company already is building the Macau Venetian CasinoResort in the area and said late last year it wanted to build more hotel-casinos with partners, with the partners financing and running the hotels and Las Vegas Sands operating the casino portions.

The Standard newspaper on Monday quoted Regal Hotels Executive Director Donald Fan as saying the company will invest up to 2 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$260 million; euro191 million) in the latest project.

Regal Hotels runs five hotels in Hong Kong, including Regal Airport Hotel, and two in Shanghai.

Former Portuguese colony Macau, which returned to Chinese rule in 1999, is 40 miles west of Hong Kong.

Gaming Corporation Launches Skill Gaming Site
As reported by OnlineCasinoNews.com

United Kingdom - Gaming Corporation plc 'Gaming, the owner of the UK's most visited gambling website

Casino.co.uk announces the launch of www.skillgaming.co.uk, a new website targeting the rapidly growing skill gaming market.

The launch of www.skillgaming.co.uk expands Gaming Corporation's gaming offering into a market that is currently growing at 40% per year and was worth £76.3 Million in 2004.

The new website will offer games of skill for fun and for cash prizes, including Gin Rummy, Pool and Pyramid Solitaire.
Current regulation in the US classifies cash skill gaming as competition and it is therefore legal to market and promote to US citizens.

During January 2005, Gaming Corporation achieved in excess of 2 million unique visitors to its websites; double the figure recorded in September 2004.

Commenting on the launch Justin Drummond, Chief Executive said, 'skill gaming is a high growth area and the launch of skillgaming.co.uk gives Gaming Corporation the opportunity to access the US market for the first time'.

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