Issue 173
January 5 - 11, 2004
Volume 4
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News
Casino scores for economic heft, diplomacy

Former Foxwoods boss shapes new N.Y. casino

Casino gambling worth a closer look

2,500 job seekers line up to work for expanded casino facility

Gaming stocks a sure bet in 2003


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Casino scores for economic heft, diplomacy
As reported by The Sacramento Business Journal

Thunder Valley Casino might be seen as controversial by some. But there are compelling arguments for its being seen as the most important private-sector building completed in south Placer County this year.

High among those impacts is the hiring of 2,200 employees at a time when regional job growth is on the decline. With a payroll of $40 million a year, the workers could have considerable impact on the local economy. The workers, by the way, get $6 million worth of health and other benefits, and most of them are full-timers, said Scott Garawitz, project manager for the casino owned by the United Auburn Indian Community.

Judges said the casino's economic impact was the main reason for giving it top honors.

"Whether you agree with the idea of a casino or not, it does something for the community that's never been done," said Robert Earl, president of Sundt Construction Inc. Northern California, who was one of the judges. "It's a large employer, and the employment is different, bringing diversity to the economy. And it brings a huge amount of people into the area who can benefit local retail."

Agreeing was another judge, Lynn Pomeroy, president of LPA Sacramento Inc., an architectural firm. The casino, he said, is a major employer and an important destination attraction for south Placer County that will most likely benefit surrounding businesses.

More than 1,000 construction workers were hired to build the massive casino, which cost $215 million -- another boost for the economy.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the casino's contributions will offset any negative impact it may have on the community. But the tribe certainly has made a substantial effort at doing so.

Another, much smaller, reason for recognizing the project is that it is unique. "Architecturally it's a casino. But we don't have anything like it in Sacramento," Earl pointed out.

Architect Pomeroy said that the designers did a very good job of breaking up the surface of the exterior so that the huge, 210,000-square-foot building does not look like a monolithic warehouse.

Former Foxwoods boss shapes new N.Y. casino
As reported by The Norwich Bulletin

Niagara Falls, N.Y. -- The chart shows a hotel and a giant entertainment center springing up on the 52 acres around St. Mary's of the Cataract Church. The buildings are part of the Seneca Niagara Casino's expansion plan over the next five years. St. Mary's isn't.

"The church stays," Mickey Brown, president and CEO of the Seneca Niagara Casino, said with a chuckle in a conference room behind his office. "God stays. He's exempt."

The buildings rise in several frames along the chart, and some are moving closer to reality: Construction on a 26-story, 600-room hotel nearby will begin in April.

The city is hoping the Seneca Nation's work will transform its downtown, and if Brown's first year is any indication, the rest of the structures will be up in the stated timeframe.

Brown, former Foxwoods Resort Casino president and CEO, has been meeting deadlines since taking charge of gaming operations a little more than a year ago, taking experience gained at Foxwoods in finishing construction quickly and applying it to the new facility.

Under Brown, the Seneca Niagara casino's main building were acquired, renovated and turned into a gaming facility in a little more than 100 days.

"The lessons I learned (at Foxwoods) were helpful here in completing construction on schedule and opening," Brown said. "Having done it before, it's easier the second time around."

Seneca Niagara is smaller than Foxwoods and draws from a less populated area, yet it has a natural wonder of the world a few blocks away that draws tens of millions of visitors a year. Most of those, however, are international visitors, and casino executives say their customers tend to come from nearby Rochester and Buffalo.

"We are going to be a destination resort, with people coming to see a pre-existing attraction," he said. "And there is the absolute support of the community, which is a distinction. People want us here and they like us here. They're good to us."

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