Issue 166
November 17 - 23, 2003
Volume 3
page 2

Slots plan takes on life of its own
As Reported by The Associated Press

HARRISBURG - Forget what you know, or think you know, about slot machines coming to Pennsylvania.

A discussion that was dominated originally by putting the machines at horse racing tracks has stretched to involve plunking slots down at off-track sites or using the revenue to subsidize everything from US Airway's leases at Pittsburgh International Airport to convention centers and an ice arena.

For years, gambling forces have tried to get slots legalized in Pennsylvania.

The push renewed when Gov. Ed Rendell spoke about it during his campaign last year, then gained momentum once he took office in Harrisburg. With slots on the horizon, the state's horse racing commissions were flooded with applications for a racetrack license from investors who wanted to get rich on slot machines.

But if the path to legalizing slots has been a roller coaster in the past, the ride doesn't seem to be ending this year.

Already one Senate bill has died in the House, and one House bill is stalled indefinitely in the Senate.

Now, state Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, D-Philadelphia, has a new idea for a slots bill that is already being dismissed by Rendell and Thompson.

The whole idea here has been to tax the slots revenue to help pay for public education and lower property taxes statewide. In addition, by putting slots at tracks, the state's struggling horse industry would be pulled up by its bootstraps. Purses would balloon, drawing better racehorses and, hence, bigger bets.

The Senate bill advocated legalizing slot machines at eight racetracks to eventually generate about $800 million from slots. That money was to be combined with revenue from a higher income tax to lower property taxes by $1.5 billion statewide.

But the GOP balked at the 34 percent income tax hike that Rendell proposed, so the governor compromised.

The House bill that then passed in July was geared to lower property taxes by $1 billion, plus extra money for special projects, such as to help pay for an expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia and a new hockey arena in Pittsburgh.

The method this time was to put slots at nine tracks and two off-track facilities, one each in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

So Fumo, who crafted the first Senate bill, has another turn.

The Democrat wants to allow slots at the six racetracks that are already licensed and award another half-dozen or so slots licenses to parties that own, or can build, an off-track facility in a prime location to tap gambling revenue.

Fumo has a proposal he hopes to introduce in the coming weeks, his staff said. While Democrats have solidly supported the previous slots bills, they've needed the support of a few Republicans to pass them.

The idea may not be the last that Pennsylvanians hear about, however: It is being met with skepticism that it expands gambling too far for most lawmakers to support.




Indiana casino plans on a fast track
As Reported by The Hoosier Times
Action is speeding up to build a new casino in Orange County.

Three key steps in the process are scheduled for this week. And the Indiana Gaming Commission could pick a casino operator by May.

The IGC set a tentative timeline during a meeting Friday in Evansville. Under that schedule, the five applicant casino companies would submit development proposals by late February. The IGC staff would then take about 45 days to review them.

Depending upon negotiations, gambling regulators could ask the ICG to select its top pick during a meeting tentatively set for May 7.

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Park Place Sign New Casino Agreements
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.--The new leaders of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Park Place Entertainment Corporation this week signed amended management and development agreements that will govern the construction and operation of the Tribe's planned $500 million Mohawk Mountain Casino Resort in Sullivan County, New York.

The agreements were signed on Monday and were presented to the Park Place Board of Directors today during a meeting in Atlantic City.

The new agreements modify the formula for calculating the management fee that Park Place will receive from the Tribe, provide for payment of a development fee to the company and reassign obligations for funding certain parts of the development. The change in the management fee formula is intended to make the new agreement consistent with federal regulations and policies established by the National Indian Gaming Commission, which must approve the company's management agreement with the Tribe.

The 750-room Mohawk Mountain resort hotel and 160,000-square foot casino is to be built on Anawana Lake in the Catskills town of Thompson, near the site of Kutsher's Resort and Country Club.

Dwight Yoakam

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino: Dwight Yoakam performs at The Joint at the Hardrock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Date: December 4, 2003

Time: 8:00pm

Price: from $32.00

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