Issue 239
April 11 - April 17, 2005
Volume 5
page 2

Sugar Creek revives casino dream
As reported by The Examiner

SUGAR CREEK, Missouri - The city of Sugar Creek and Southwest Hotel and Casino are hoping to put two heartbreaking failures of the past behind them and work together on a blockbuster deal to build a casino in Sugar Creek, officials confirmed last week. Unfortunately for Sugar Creek and Southwest, those outside of their circle say the odds are stacked against them.

The Missouri Gaming Commission "is not at this time looking at expanding in the Kansas City market," said Harold Bailey, a public relations officer for the commission.
Bailey said the Kansas City market is essentially saturated with four existing casinos P Harrah's, AmeriStar, Isle of Capri, and The Argosy.

And while this hasn't stopped Jim Druck, president of Southwest Hotel and Casino of Minneapolis, from putting up at least $20,000 in front money for site investigation and application fees, Druck admits it is an uphill battle.

"The Missouri Gaming Commission is very cautious; they want to make sure every license succeeds. That's very prudent on their part," Druck said. "But the main issue confronting us is, what will the Missouri Legislature do?"

The Missouri General Assembly is considering a bill that would limit the number of casinos allowed to operate in Missouri. Depending on which version of the bill is considered, the number of casinos in the state could be limited to 10 or 11, Druck said. If the bill is passed, it would effectively end any attempts to open a fifth casino in the Kansas City area.

Because of this, Druck says, Southwest Hotel and Casino has not filed an application with the state gaming commission.

If all goes as planned, Druck says, the casino and resort destination would likely be built at or near the same location as a casino that was planned in the early 1990s, though he would not release specific details on where exactly the casino would be, or when it would be built.

"We've been to the site a couple of times, and we've spoken to the city," he said. "We've engaged a lobbyist to be our voice in Jefferson City, asking representatives to not pass a license limitation. But beyond that, we're simply in a conceptual mode; we haven't done any market research or done any site acquisition."

Sugar Creek is no stranger to gambling establishments looking at the city's claim to the banks of the Missouri River. In 1993, Sugar Creek solicited proposals from various companies that wished to operate an excursion gambling boat in the city's limits. Four prospective gaming operators made formal proposals, including Fitzgeralds of Sugar Creek, and the Kansas City Station Corp. and Station Casinos.

At the time, there was one more available Class A gaming license for the Kansas City area.

The license, subsequently was issued to Station, which then decided to open a casino across the River, leaving Sugar Creek without a casino, and staring at a financial slap in the wallet.

Fitzgeralds wound up filing bankruptcy, and teamed with the city of Sugar Creek to sue Station. A settlement was reached last year. Station later was sold to AmeriStar.
Then again in 1996, the American Gaming and Entertainment Co. of Atlantic City, N.J., filed an application for a gaming license. That request was denied.

Sugar Creek isn't alone in its past casino heartbreaks. Last year, Southwest Hotel and Casino had hoped to have an amendment passed that would have allowed for a casino license near Branson, at Rockaway Beach. The amendment did not get the approval of voters during the August 2004 primary election.

While the prospects of a fifth casino in the Kansas City area seems bleak, members from the city and the casino say they are remaining cautiously optimistic that something good will happen for them.

"I don't know," said Alderman Joe Kenney. "But if it happens, it would be huge for our city."




Casino hope crumbles for Dome owner
As reported by The Observer

United Kingdom - The curse of the Millennium Dome could be about to strike again. The future profitability of the controversial attraction is at risk because the structure is unlikely to be able to house a megacasino.

Last week, the government was forced to climb down under Conservative Party pressure and only allow one megacasino under new gambling legislation which became law last Friday.
The planned casino, which could have 1,250 slot machines, is widely expected to be in Blackpool rather than in the dome in London's Docklands. The building's new owner, the secretive US tycoon Philip Anschutz, wanted a megacasino to lure visitors in on a daily basis. Failure to get it will be a huge setback for him. A spokes woman said: 'Of course we're disappointed at the outcome of this legislation.'

Under a government deal Anschutz pays about £3m a year for the dome, so he is unlikely to lose money. However, without a casino to underpin the events he anticipates staging there, profits will slump. The government's returns will also be compromised because the dome contract is arranged in the form of a profit-sharing public-private partnership.

The dome, empty for years having cost taxpayers close to £1bn, is an embarrassment to Tony Blair, who championed the derided project.

Meanwhile, many overseas operators furious that the government closed the door on supercasinos are convinced that after the election they will be able to revisit their plans.

And gambling industry insiders believe that the Rank Group, the leisure conglomerate, is now being stalked by private equity firms. Employees acknowledge mounting speculation about an offer. Rank is seen as a big winner following the Gambling Act because its Mecca bingo arm is earmarked for surging growth while it is likely to scoop up many of the 16 new casino licences.

Measure to expand gambling at Hoosier tracks dies
As reported by

Indiana - Senate Republicans rejected a plan yesterday to put 5,000 gambling machines at the state's two racetracks -- even though the tax revenue they generated would have been used to increase funding for public schools.

Minority Democrats offered the proposal -- which could have raised about $180 million annually for the state -- as an amendment to the two-year budget bill, which is now eligible for passage in the Senate.

The amendment failed 16-33, largely along party lines.
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, told senators the General Assembly needs to get the gambling proposal "on the table" so it can be considered in the last three weeks of the session, when lawmakers must finish the budget.

"If anyone should make money off of these machines it should be the children by way of education funding," Lanane said.

Democrats say the Senate budget plan -- written by Republicans -- does not provide enough funding for schools. It would raise total funding by slightly more than 1 percent each year, although the impact on individual districts would vary greatly, with some suffering cuts.

Under the amendment, the Hoosier Lottery Commission would have owned and operated the machines. The state would have kept 60 percent of the proceeds, with the rest split among horsemen and the two tracks -- Hoosier Park in Anderson and Indiana Downs in Shelby County.

But Republicans have been hesitant to expand gambling in a state that already has a lottery, 10 riverboat casinos and pari-mutuel wagering.

Sen. Gary Dillon, R-Pierceton, said the gambling plan "is truly a loser from an economic standpoint."

He said it also creates addicts and hurts families.

"This is not a painless solution," he said.

Senate Tax Committee Chairman Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, said the proposal shouldn't be approved without being heard in a committee hearing, where the public can testify.

Earlier in the session, a similar proposal -- which would have generated money for the state budget and a new stadium for the Indianapolis Colts -- died in a House committee.

Senate Republicans also rejected amendments yesterday meant to direct other revenue to education funding.

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