Issue 237
March 28 - April 3, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

French Lick Casino gets a redeal

Ponca Indians plan new casino

CCC approves sale of Hilton to Colony

Franklin and Wasington County Casino Pitches

Churchill submits plans to build $10-million slots facility at Fair Grouds

Show Time Edwin McCain performs at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas.

Column Pitching Your Own Slot Machine

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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French Lick casino gets a redeal
As reported by the The Indianapolis Star.

Gambling companies have another shot at building a casino in French Lick after the Indiana Gaming Commission on Wednesday reopened the bidding process.

According to a tentative timeline, companies interested in building the state's 11th casino will have until April 13 to make initial applications. Gaming commission Executive Director Ernest Yelton said he hopes to name a winner in about 90 days.

State gaming officials have scrambled over the last three weeks to get the Orange County casino back on track after months of delay. Yelton announced this month that he had called off a deal with Donald Trump's casino company, which is mired in bankruptcy reorganization, after it couldn't meet his deadlines.

In July, the gaming commission selected Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts to build a casino in economically depressed Orange County.

On Wednesday, eight months later, the commission unanimously rescinded that award and reopened the process.

Two groups definitely will apply -- Orange County Development, which features Larry Bird as its headliner, and Lost River Development, a partnership between Indianapolis-based Lauth Property Group and Chicago's Merit Gaming Group. Those two organizations lost to Trump last summer.

Marilyn Fenton, who runs an antique shop in French Lick, said she just wants to see the casino project up and running again. But she admits she has her favorite: Larry Bird's group.

"People still come visit here just for him," Fenton said of French Lick's most famous native.

The group's spokesman, Barry Morris, said residents shouldn't expect dramatic changes from Orange County Development's original proposal, just some fine-tuning.

"We're still going to take advantage of the two historic hotels. We do think we can improve," said Morris, noting that one improvement will be providing covered parking for gamblers.

Morris said he expects the Lauth group to be "formidable opponents."

Lauth Group attorney Vernon Back, whose company was the runner-up to Trump, said this month his company is prepared "to move very quickly to bring this casino to Orange County."

Greg Hahn, local attorney for Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, said he doesn't know if Trump will resubmit a bid.

Yelton said he doesn't know of other groups that are interested, but wanted to reopen the process, just in case.

"I believe that it is a more fair and more open process," Yelton said.

He opposed a more limited process in which the three applicants who originally competed would be the only ones allowed to vie again.

The process requires a $50,000 fee, to cover the cost of background and financial investigations, for all applicants.

The commission's staff expects to post a request for proposals by April 6. Final proposals would be due May 4. A vote could come as early as June 22, according to the timeline, which Yelton emphasized is tentative.

Ponca Indians plan new casino
As reported by The Oklahoman

PONCA CITY, Oklahoma- The Ponca Tribe has started the process to open a nearly $10 million casino.

The casino, planned for the intersection of U.S. 177 and U.S. 60, will be larger and in a better location than the tribe’s current casino off U.S. 177 inside the tribal town of White Eagle, Chairman Dwight Buffalo Head said.

“We’re trying to become less and less dependent on federal dollars,” Buffalo Head said. “Right now, we’re just in a bad location. We’re trying to make ourselves more accessible to the public.”

The new casino also is expected to employ more than 100 people compared with about 70 at the old site, Blue Star Casino, said Carter Camp, administrative assistant for the tribe.

The tribe hired Merit Management of Chicago to conduct a feasibility study which determined the best location to be at the intersection of the two highways on the northern boundary of tribal land and just south of Ponca City.

Leaders still need to negotiate leasing or buying the land from tribe members, Camp said.

Through the agreement, Merit Management will provide funds to construct the casino and will manage it for five years. During that time, the company will take 30 percent of profits and train Ponca members to take over. After five years, the tribe will run the casino and take all profits to supplement tribal programs, Camp said.

Leaders are unsure how much the casino will earn, but are excited about its prospects, Camp said. The old casino is the main source of nonfederal income, earing about $700,000 to $1 million annually for the tribe of about 2,500.

“We think it will be a big economic boom for us,” Camp said. “We’re going to be able to supplement people’s needs.”

Tribal members are scheduled to talk at a meeting Saturday about how to allocate profits, Camp said, and the tribe will hold a contest to decide the name of the new casino.

Camp said he planned to submit paperwork this week for approval for extended gaming from the state and the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ office of gaming management. A state law passed in November allows tribes to offer extended gaming, such as blackjack and poker.

Several other tribes throughout the state are already offering extended gaming or are planning to do so.

“We have to build to compete,” Camp said.

The tribe hasn’t decided on the size yet, but the goal is to have more games available and other entertainment options such as a restaurant within the casino, Camp said.

Other planned features are a gas station, retail businesses, and an RV park, Camp said.

He said the tribe may start work in 90 to 120 days.

Leaders haven’t decided the future of the old casino, Buffalo Head said. The tribe may keep it open as a bingo hall or close it.

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