Issue 209
September 13 - 19, 2004
Volume 4
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Local tribe kicks in $500,000 for museum

New owners plan Hispanic theme for Castaways

Fitzgeralds casino sold

Pennsylvania Casinos Allowed 5,000 Slots

Slot machines moving away from coins


Show Time Sting and Anne Lennox, perform in the "Sacred Love Tour" at the MGM Grand.

Column The Man with the Midas touch By Mark Pilarski

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Local tribe kicks in $500,000 for museum
As reported by The Desert Sun

WASHINGTON, DC -- The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians contributed about $500,000 to the new National Museum of the American Indian, and many tribal members will fly to Washington later this month for the opening.

"I think the Agua Caliente presence will be substantial," said Michael Hammond, executive director of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

Hammond and several board members from his museum will attend opening festivities for the museum starting Sunday in Washington.

The Agua Caliente is the fifth-largest tribal donor to the museum. Two of the largest donors, the Mashantucket Pequots and Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut, each donated $10 million. The Agua Calientes couldn't be reached for comment.

Hammond said the Agua Caliente museum is the only native American museum that is a Smithsonian affiliate, which gives it the right to borrow objects for up to 10 years, long enough to build exhibits around, he said.

"(The national museum) is really the clearinghouse of tribes' sacred objects," he said. "Our focus, it's fair to say, is the history of the Coachella Valley, but from a native American perspective."

Exhibits at the national museum will highlight the nine bands of Cahuilla Indians in the region as well as tribal issues such as sovereignty and water rights, he said.

Hammond hopes the national museum will help raise funds for the new Agua Caliente museum, which is scheduled to open late next year and is projected to cost about $40 million to build and equip. Nearly all Indian tribes are building their own museums, or want to, he said.

He said the benefit of the revenue that Indian tribes earn by operating casinos "is that a lot of it is going to preserve culture, preserve language ... and for museums."

New owners plan Hispanic theme for Castaways
As reported by The Las Vegas Review-Journal

LAS VEGAS, NV -- Three local casino operators are betting they can reflag the Castaways at the head of Boulder Highway as La Joya del Sol, complete renovations and reopen it in December, one of the new owners said Friday.

At least that's the goal of MGI Group, a partnership of Randy Miller, Rich Gonzales and Rich Iannone that also owns the Longhorn casino on Boulder Highway and the Bighorn casino in North Las Vegas.

The only possible delay for the partners is in securing state gaming licences, which remains very much an open question, Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said.

Miller, whose partnership bought the 50-year-old landmark property from the Vestin Group, said the group has submitted its gaming license applications to the state, although Neilander said they have not been received.

Miller said the timing for reopening the Castaways as a Hispanic-themed hotel-casino depends on how long a state investigation of the new owners takes, and how long after that it takes for gaming regulators to approve the licenses.

Neilander said the individual applicants, who have gaming holdings in Southern Nevada and Louisiana, are already licensed, which should cut down on the necessary work to complete the investigation. However, he said, the actual time needed will depend on how the purchase and ownership have been structured.

Meanwhile, the sale of the Castaways to the new owners is contingent only on the licensing, and Miller said Vestin, which bought the former Showboat at a foreclosure sale in February, is letting the trio proceed with improvements even though the deal hasn't closed.

Vestin Group President Mike Shustek said he is pleased the MGI Group is moving rapidly forward.

Miller said the reflagged hotel-casino, whose name means "Jewel of the Sun," will undergo a thorough renovation over the next 60 days to make it what they hope will be the most festive property in Las Vegas.

"It'll be a terrific place -- all new. It'll have all new (Southwest) colors, a new porte cochere, front desk and lounges," he said.

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