Issue 180
February 23 - 29, 2004
Volume 4
page 2

Owner of Fitzgeralds Hotel-Casino Is Upbeat on Downtown Las Vegas' Future
As reported by The Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Downtown Las Vegas is changing for the better, as "fresh capital and fresh ideas" continue to pour into the area, the owner of Fitzgeralds said Thursday.

Don Barden, who is also chairman and chief executive officer of Majestic Investor, Fitzgeralds' parent, visited Las Vegas to help celebrate the second anniversary of his ownership of the downtown property and to announce company plans.

In a news conference, Barden called downtown changes, such as the new ownership at Binion's Horseshoe and the Golden Nugget, positive and said he is excited to be a part of the evolution.

"This all fits into the concept of revitalizing downtown. There's fresh capital and fresh ideas," Barden said. "We hope to bring more entertainment and more youth activities downtown."

Meanwhile, Barden said continuing enhancements at Fitzgeralds are planned, including the addition of a future entertainment venue, but he didn't offer specifics.

He said Fitzgeralds continues to rent the Fremont Street Experience showroom for events the hotel sponsors, but he said he wants to bring that type of venue "in-house."

Under Barden's ownership, the hotel has upgraded furniture and carpeting and enhanced its logo and marketing materials.

"Things are going quite well," Barden said. "Everything these past two years have met expectations. We have positive cash flow and we're making money. We're going to continue to keep our property fresh."

Barden's biggest announcement Thursday was his company's plans to build a hotel-casino in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the British West Indies.

Barden, who also owns Fitzgeralds hotel-casinos in Tunica, Miss., and Black Hawk, Colo., and a Chicago-area riverboat casino, said he accepted a personal invitation from the island's government to build a property on the upscale Caribbean site.

"These islands are kind of a secret because it's quiet and very upscale, no crime," Barden said. "It's just a wonderful setting with beautiful beaches and nice restaurants. The government there wants to keep it upscale, and bring in more five-star hotels."

Preliminary plans call for the new hotel-casino to go up in two phases. The casino and an entertainment venue will comprise the first phase; a four- or five-star hotel will come in the second phase.





Feds Part of Tribe Pushing for
New Casino
As reported by The Associated Press

PLYMOUTH, Calif. - A once-tiny, nearly destitute American Indian tribe is pushing hard to build a $100 million casino - but it's not traditional tribal members gunning for riches.

Hundreds of people have been newly added to the Ione Band of Miwok Indians' membership rolls, which were opened up by regional Bureau of Indian Affairs officials. Among the new members are several BIA employees and dozens of their relatives.

Regional BIA officials opened the membership against the traditional leaders' wishes to include members from two other bands in the area. The federal officials then oversaw an Aug. 10, 2002, election that swapped the old leaders for a pro-casino group that includes some of the BIA employees themselves.

Before the Bureau of Indian Affairs became involved, the Ione Band had about 70 members living on land near Ione, about 40 miles east of Sacramento in the rolling hills of one of California's wine regions.

Now the band's official membership has swelled to 535. None of the new members is related to the original 70.

The tribe is now potentially eligible for millions of dollars in federal benefits. Its new leaders have been given $1.9 million from the state's Tribal Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, in which tribes with casinos contribute to non-gambling tribes. The tribe says it is using that money to offer members emergency assistance with housing, health care and energy bills.

If the tribe opens its proposed casino with 2,000 slot machines, opponents say it could bring in $185 million a year, based on the experience of other tribes.

Even more casinos? Bet on it
As reported by The Toronto Star

A seemingly innocent remark 12 days ago by Economic Development Minister Joe Cordiano about the potential for more casinos in Ontario has thrown communities across the province into a tizzy.

"I'm conducting an assessment to make sure that we understand where the (gambling) industry should go, how much growth we've had (and) should we have future growth," said Cordiano.

Those communities without casinos - notably Barrie, Wasaga Beach, North Bay and even Hamilton - immediately stuck their hands in the air and cried, "Me!"

And those communities that already have casinos - notably Niagara Falls and Rama - expressed concerns that any new gambling emporiums would steal business from them.

In opposition, Premier Dalton McGuinty decried the "mad, reckless rush" to expand casino gambling in Ontario.

But now that they are in power, the Liberals are desperately searching for new sources of revenue to bring down the deficit, just as the New Democrats did a decade ago.

"Where it makes sense, where there's a growth strategy potential, we'll put the casinos there," said Cordiano. "And I think you have to have communities that want them."

There are plenty of communities lining up for the opportunity.

Mamma Mia!
Enrique Iglesias

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino: Enrique Iglesias, the world's sexiest Latin pop star, performs at "The Joint" in the Hard Rock Hotel.

Date: February 28, 2004

Price: $50 - $85

Time: 8:00pm


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