Issue 241
April 15 - May 1, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Kulongoski, Warm Springs Tribe ink gorge casino pact

Hopland Pomos plan new casino

Poker room puts casino back in game

Miami casino expanding

Orange County welcomes casino bid 

Show Time Wayne Newton performs at the Emerald Casino May 15, 2005.

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Kulongoski, Warm Springs Tribe ink gorge casino pact
As reported by the The Business Journal

CASCADE LOCKS, Oregon - Gov. Ted Kulongoski on Wednesday signed a renegotiated tribal-state compact that allows the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs to construct and operate a casino in the Columbia River Gorge town of Cascade Locks.

Plans call for construction of the casino, plus a hotel and convention center, on industrial land in Cascade Locks. In return for state approval to build on that site, the tribe will transfer four parcels of environmentally fragile tribal land near the city of Hood River to the state, and has agreed to restrict use of an additional parcel.

The compact includes a revenue-sharing agreement and requires the creation of two new funds: one dedicated to environmental protection, economic development and higher-education opportunities, and the other dedicated to charitable organizations throughout the state.

The governor's office said the new casino will create hundreds of family-wage union jobs during construction and will support more than a thousand jobs in Cascade Locks once the facility is opened.

The tribe also is responsible for all costs, estimated at $20 million, associated with constructing a new interchange on Interstate 84. The tribe will work with the Oregon Department of Transportation on all highway improvements and to mitigate all transportation impacts on other roads.

The governor's office said Kulongoski intends to continue Oregon's "one-casino-per-tribe" policy. As part of this agreement, the tribe has agreed to close its casino at the Kah-Nee-Ta Lodge on the Warm Springs Reservation.

The revenue-sharing agreement calls for the Warm Springs Tribe to share 17 percent of its gross gaming revenue annually with other Oregonians. Under the agreement the tribe will deposit monies annually into a nonprofit entity called the Oregon Benefit Fund, which will be managed by an independent board.

Between 5 percent and 10 percent of the funds will be used for environmental purposes in the gorge. Another 5 percent may be used for economic development, and the remainder will be used for direct student assistance for postsecondary education in Oregon.

The tribe also agreed to create a Tribal Community Benefit Fund which will receive 6 percent of the facility's annual net income. That fund will primarily finance general charitable purposes as determined by the board of trustees according to the terms of the compact.

Hopland Pomos plan new casino
As reported by The Daily Journal

CLOVERDALE, California - The Hopland Band of Pomos plans to build a second, 100,000-square-foot casino in Cloverdale to which it will move its casino-style gambling from the Sho-Ka-Wah casino on the reservation in Hopland.
The Sho-Ka-Wah casino will then concentrate on bingo as its primary gaming.

The tribe is working with the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe, which is acting as developer for the project on Hopland's behalf, and Matt Lemley, a former economic development director for the Cloverdale tribe, who is representing the Santana family, which owns the 12 acres of Cloverdale property. The property is already in federal trust status (and has been for decades) and is therefore eligible for casino development. The land lies east of Highway 101 at the southern end of Cloverdale, across a street from property under consideration for a major resort and golf course project.

Eric Ramos, chief financial officer of the Blue Lake Rancheria, explained Wednesday that the project has been in the talking stage for a couple of years and that he and others have been contacting everyone they could think of who would have an interest, including the City of Cloverdale, the local police and fire departments, local businesses, Realtors and the Cloverdale service clubs.

"We've never seen a site better suited," he said, noting that the land is across the highway from the Cloverdale downtown core and main residential areas, and already has good highway access, so light, noise and traffic should not be major issues.

Ramos said the next step for the Hopland tribe is to approach the City of Cloverdale to negotiate water and sewer extensions to the land. He said if the tribe has to create its own water and sewer project it would likely cost $2 million, which he said could better be used helping to improve the city's services.
He said the city has let him know it wants more public debate about the casino, and there is a public meeting on it scheduled for 6 p.m. tonight at the Citrus Fair building in Cloverdale.

The new casino is planned at a cost of $250 per square foot or $25 million. It would create about 500 full time equivalent jobs. Ramos also noted that the Hopland Band has committed to ensuring that 80 percent of the subcontracting for the development would go to Sonoma and Mendocino county contractors. Since the land is already in trust, the Santana family will transfer that trust to the Hopland Band. Under the 1999 gaming compact the Hopland tribe signed with the state under former Gov. Gray Davis, the tribe can build up to two casinos and operate a total of 2,000 slot machines. The new casino will start with 1,700 slots, perhaps building to 2,000 and 40 to 50 card tables. It will have a "quick service" cafe, a separate buffet and a bar.

Because the land is in trust already and the tribe has a compact, it does not need permission to go forward with the project from local authorities. However, Ramos said that's not a good way to do business.
"It's bad public policy to say we're going to do it because we can," he said.

He said so far he would characterize reaction to the project as "mixed," depending on who you're talking to. He believes, as the developer, that there are good answers on all the likely concerns about traffic, safety, lighting and design. There is no firm design yet, although he said so far they're trending to something on a Tuscan theme that would fit in with wine country atmosphere. He acknowledged that Sonoma County is very concerned with "look and feel" of new development.

"They don't want pink neon," he said.

Depending on how quickly the Hopland tribe can come to agreement with the city of Cloverdale, the casino project could be up and running in about two years. Ramos said it would take about 14 months from an agreement with the city. The project overview materials also indicate it will need a full environmental review and approval from the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The tribe will also work with Cloverdale and Sonoma County on an agreement to mitigate impacts such as the need for emergency services, lost tax revenues, problem gambling and other issues.

The new casino will be ideally located for Highway 101 traffic and may grab business from the only other major casino between the Bay Area and Cloverdale, the River Rock Casino in the Alexander Valley near Geyserville, which is off the highway along a winding back road.

Since Hopland will be moving its main casino gambling -- which by all accounts has been struggling since the River Rock Casino opened -- to the Cloverdale site, it stands to gain considerable revenue and will not be competing with itself in Hopland.

Ramos said he thinks a Cloverdale casino will draw primarily from Santa Rosa, Petaluma and other points south, including the Bay Area. He said studies have shown there is still plenty of room for more slots in the North Bay area.

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