Issue 236
March 21 - 27, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Harrah's, tribe unveil new casino plan

Thunderbird Update

Lakes Entertainment, Inc. Signs Development Consulting Agreements and Management Contracts for Two Gaming Projects with the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma

AngelCiti Enters Into Definitive Agreement to Acquire Largest Land-Based Casino in Turks and Caicos

Regal signs Macau resort agreement with Sands

Show Time The Killers performs at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas.

Column Horoscope for the week of Mar 20, 2005 By Michael O'Connor

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

See the lucky winners


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Harrah's, tribe unveil new casino plan
As reported by the The Providence Journal, R.I.

WEST WARWICK, Rhode Island - Harrah's Entertainment rolled out its most detailed proposal yet for a casino in Rhode Island yesterday, displaying plans for a sleek glass-and-stone design on heavily landscaped land.

The $650-million development, in an 85-acre industrial park, would include stately pools, a 55,000-square-foot convention center and a 1,500-seat entertainment hall.

The plan needs legislative approval and support from voters in the host town and in a statewide referendum. Legislation for the casino has not yet been introduced.

The Las Vegas company, working with the Narragansett Indian Tribe, has also expanded its vision for future development on the site, reacting to a $700-million expansion project announced last month at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., just 11 miles from Rhode Island.

Since Harrah's first proposed a casino in Rhode Island three years ago, the Mohegan Sun, in Montville, Conn., completed a $1.1-billion expansion. And in Massachusetts, a change in political leadership has increased the possibility for slot-machine gambling there, Rep. Timothy A. Williamson, D-West Warwick, who will sponsor the Rhode Island casino bill, said yesterday.

"The single most important element is breaking the Connecticut monopoly," Jan Jones, Harrah's senior vice president of government relations, said yesterday. "Eastern Connecticut has blossomed as a tourist destination and Rhode Island has fallen far behind."

Harrah's said yesterday it controls all 85 acres, off Route 95, on which it hopes to build a "destination resort" with restaurants, a spa, shops, a 500-room hotel, a 2,500-space parking garage and surface parking for 2,750 cars.

The new artist's rendering differs starkly from a previous portrait, which showed a tall black tower flanked by fountains and a grassy expanse. The revised picture emphasizes tall trees, and two azure glass buildings reflecting a bright sky.

The casino would house 115,000 square feet of gambling space, with 3,000 slot machines and 100 table games.

But many details remain a mystery, including the specific height of the proposed 19-story hotel, plans for a new Route 95 interchange, and a site plan.

Supporters gathered yesterday at the news conference, held at the new casino headquarters on Main Street, where they exchanged handshakes and "here-we-are-again" greetings.

Williamson and Harrah's officials predicted the new legislation would be acceptable to the state Supreme Court; the court rejected last year's bill as unconstitutional, after it passed the House and Senate and survived Governor Carcieri's veto.

"It's a very good day for the tribe," said Matthew Thomas, chief sachem of the Narragansetts, whose tribe would receive job opportunities and a $20-million payout in the casino's first year.

Harrah's has also pledged $14.7 million to West Warwick in its first year, money the town needs to pave roads, repair municipal buildings and build a new senior center, said Town Council President Jeanne-Marie DiMasi.

"We need help," she said yesterday. "Our town buildings are being neglected."

Harrah's has also promised a $100-million license fee and a revenue-sharing agreement with the state, and a two-year guarantee to cover any state revenue decline from lost business at Lincoln Park and Newport Grand. The company insists the West Warwick casino would have little impact on its two Rhode Island competitors, which generate huge revenue for the state.

The project, Harrah's said, would create 3,015 construction jobs, and the casino would employ 3,184 people. The company says it would hire union laborers, and rely heavily on local merchants for supplies and services. The casino would also siphon money streaming into Connecticut from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, said Jones, the Harrah's executive. Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents spent $1 billion at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun last year, she said, money that could have helped support public services here.

Since 1998,Jones said, 200 Rhode Island businesses held conventions and meetings at Foxwoods. "They're driving right by the site every trip they make to Connecticut," she said.

The company is hoping for swift legislative approval, and a special election in November. But the bill's prospects in the General Assembly are uncertain.

Jeff Neal, Carcieri's spokesman, said yesterday the governor would again veto any casino bill this year. The casino, he said, would breed corruption, undercut state revenues, and "destroy nearby businesses." And legislation for the casino, which would now be operated by the state Lottery Commission, might have to survive another legal challenge.

Local opponents, and the Rhode Island Hospitality and Tourism Association, are also forecasting grim fallout from the gambling project.

Amy Kempe, the association spokeswoman, said the casino could spark closings statewide among small hotels, restaurants, and retail outlets; undercut the Dunkin' Donuts Center and the taxpayer-subsidized Rhode Island Convention Center; and compete with established tourist destinations, such as the Newport mansions.

"Our local restaurants can't compete with the deep discounts the casinos will give," Kempe said. "They're not going to be spending those dollars in our local restaurants and entertainment facilities."

The Providence Performing Arts Center, which sells 500,000 tickets annually, might close after 27 years in operation, shuttering a 77-year-old historic building restored with $40 million in state, federal, and local money, according to its president, Lynn Singleton.

"It's kind of like Dracula -- it doesn't go away," Singleton said of the casino proposal. "If the shows go there, they aren't here."

West Warwick Citizens Against The Casino, a community group, said the casino would bring heavy traffic to local side streets, and shine bright lights all night into neighboring homes.

"Our quality of life is going to get impacted," said Frank Lombardo, the group's vice president. "The Indians and Harrah's say they won't cut through our neighborhoods. Yeah, right."

Thunderbird Update
Press Release

POWAY, California - International Thunderbird Gaming Corporation announces the following update in the Company's operations and business development:

Costa Rica: The Company recently held its grand opening of the Fiesta Casino Costa Rica at the Garden Court Hotel adjacent to the San Jose International Airport and on the Hampton Hotel Property. The entertainment center includes our second Pirates Bar & Restaurant that overlooks the casino floor of 160 state-of-the-art slot machines, 121 table positions as well as a VIP room catering to high-end players. The San Jose area has a population of 3.9 million, a GDP of $32 billion and a per capita GDP of $8,300. This is compared to Panama, Thunderbird's flagship market, which has a population of 2.9 million, a GDP of $18.1 billion and a per capita GDP of $6,200. Costa Rica's economy is stable, diverse and relatively free of the country risks inherent in other developing markets. The Fiesta Casino at the Presidente Hotel is continuing to show great progress.

Philippines: The Company expects its Fiesta Casino Manila to have a grand opening on April 12, 2005. The Casino, unlike any other in the Philippines, will be a part of a hotel and golf resort complex. Located on the edge of Metro Manila, the property offers a scenic lake view that is a perfect getaway for both local Filipinos and Asians seeking an urban resort retreat with luxury hotel, international-caliber golf, fine dining and thematic gaming experience.

Honduras: The Company is advancing its development efforts in Honduras with a plan to open and operate a slot parlor business in various locations throughout the country. The trademarked "Video Suerte" will be a welcomed addition to the Company's base of businesses throughout Central America. The Company has agreed to terms with a local partner who has a license to operate 5 slot parlors with up to 80 machines at each location.

Chile: The Chilean Casino Law was approved on January 7, 2005. Under the law, bidding is expected to take place between July and August of this year, and we hope to have results between Q4 of this year and Q1 2006. The law allows for 17 casino licenses, each of which will have market exclusivity within a 70 km radius. Winning bids are those that maximize economic and tourism impact.

Thunderbird is developing approximately 6 to 8 projects designed to secure the maximum number of impact points possible, while at the same time remain within our profit expectations. We fully expect to win $30-$50 million in gaming revenues and an additional $10-$15 million in non-gaming revenues. We expect most of the gaming revenues to come on-line between Q3 and Q4 of 2006.

In relation to the specifics of our projects, the Company is engaged in an intense "bid preparation period" for our final bids. Markets in which we are heavily focused include, but are not limited to, Rancagua, Concepcion, Antofagasta and Talca. We expect to publicly announce all of our proposed locations in June 2005, as required under the new Chilean law.

Thunderbird is currently structuring its financing for these projects. Negotiations are pending, but indications are that financing will be attainable given the value of the licenses and the relative low risk of the Chilean market.

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