Issue 168
December 1 - 7, 2003
Volume 3
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News
Station to develop tribal property

Oregon court ruling a setback for opponents of Indian casino

Casino-hotel complex could boost Southland

Walls man arrested in Tunica Grand Casino robbery

Chris Hemmeter, developer of failed N.O. casino, dies


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Station to develop tribal property
As Reported by The Las Vegas Review-Journal

Las Vegas locals gaming power Station Casinos has reached a deal to develop and manage a casino for a Michigan Indian tribe, the company and a Western Michigan tribe were to announce this morning.

The proposed Gun Lake project would mark Station's first casino east of the Mississippi and would cement tribal casino management as the company's second business sphere, after its bread-and-butter Las Vegas locals franchise.

Station plans to spend "less than $200 million" to build the casino for a Michigan tribe, which has almost finished the federal approval process for putting the proposed casino site into trust.

"We expect to be up and operating in 2005," said Station Chief Financial Officer Glenn Christenson, who believes the deal validates the company's tribal management franchise. "We continue to develop ways to bring money back to Las Vegas."

Station President Lorenzo Fertitta said the deal solidifies the company's commitment to tribal casino development and management.

"There is a tremendous amount of support for the Gun Lake Tribe and for a gaming project," Fertitta said of feedback from government officials and opinion leaders in Michigan.

The casino would be built in an existing 192,000-square-foot building, originally a recycling center, on a 145-acre site on U.S. Highway 131 in Wayland, about 25 miles north of Kalamazoo and 20 miles south of Grand Rapids.

About 1.8 million adults live within a 50-square-mile radius of the site, and the nearest casinos are about 80 or 90 miles away in Mount Pleasant, Mich., and northern Indiana, Station executives said.

Station proposes to build a casino that will have as many as 2,500 slot machines, 75 table games, a buffet and other restaurants, and an entertainment venue.

Oregon court ruling a setback for opponents of Indian casino
As Reported by The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - The state Supreme Court has thrown out a lawsuit to block a new Indian casino on the Oregon coast, deflating the hopes of anti-casino activists who thought they had discovered a legal flaw in Oregon's tribal gaming rules.

Casino opponents had argued that the governor couldn't sign a gaming compact with a tribe because the state constitution prohibits casino gambling.

Tribes aren't subject to state law, but many have signed agreements with states to open casinos under the 1988 federal Indian Gaming Act. The agreements, which cover such issues as traffic rules and public safety, are in place in about 25 states.

The Oregon case targeted one of these agreements, following a strategy that has proved successful in other states and is gaining momentum as a legal tool for opponents of Indian gaming across the country.

Similar cases in New York, New Mexico and Kansas have been successful in blocking casinos, said Alex Johnson, a New Mexico attorney and an expert on Indian gaming law hired by the Oregon group that filed the suit.

The New York case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, but last month justices said they wouldn't get involved in Indian gaming disputes and that state courts would have to rule on the legality of such compacts.

The Oregon Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously dismissed the legal action - a writ-of-mandamus request - without comment, court clerk John Koskela said.

The ruling, however, appeared to quash hopes of casino opponents to legally block the 400-slot Three Rivers Casino and convention center in Florence before construction is expected to begin next year.

The plans by the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Siuslaw and Lower Umpqua Indians so angered residents in the 7,500-population tourist and resort town on the Pacific coast that the City Council voted this past spring to refuse water and sewer service to the tribe.

The tribe shot back that it would drill wells for water and build a sewage system. Dueling pro-and anti-casino signs popped up on U.S. 101 near the town.

Francis Somday, administrator of the 700-member tribe, based in Coos Bay, said many bars in Florence run mini-casinos with video lottery machines, and that state statistics show that residents are among the most prolific gamblers in the state.

The tribe considers gaming a right necessary for financial security. It hired Las Vegas-based gambling developer ROI to build and manage the 400-slot gaming floor, expected to net $10 million to $12 million a year.

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