Issue 266
October 17 - October 23, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Casino plan places big bet

Minden landmark to become casino

Online Poker Branches Out: Say goodbye to PokerNetwork, and hello to Ongame Network

Don't count out New Orleans casino row just yet

Breeders say slot machines could save racing industry

Show Time Hanson performs the House of Blues at Showboat Atlantic City.

Column Bits and Pieces from Indian Country - August 2005 By Ken Adams.

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

See the lucky winners


Not yet subscribed to the Casino City Newsletter? Sign up NOW!


Casino plan places big bet
As reported by The Denver Pos

BLACK HAWK, Colorado - A pair of well-heeled Miami businessmen are bankrolling a $261 million hotel and casino project in Black Hawk that is laden with great potential as well as controversy.

They're snatching up the last major parcel of prime, undeveloped land in Black Hawk, the state's premier gambling town.

The 24-acre parcel sits at the town's main entrance, and would be the first gaming property metro-area travelers see when they enter town.

However, the developers still need to finalize the property sale, secure an excavation permit to blow up a mountain, and remove an estimated 500,000 cubic yards of rock before the casino can be built. It could be finished as early as 2007.

The project, called Colorado Mint Hotel & Casino, was plagued by a scam that allegedly swindled millions from investors and resulted in fraud charges against a handful of people in 2002.

The primary financial backers are Miami hotel and casino veterans Sherwood Weiser and Donald Lefton.

Steve Boulter, the local executive who eyed the plum parcel for several years and put the deal together, reeled in Weiser and Lefton about a year ago.

Weiser and Lefton made fortunes after selling Carnival Resorts & Casinos, a hotel and gaming company they co-founded, in 2001 for $182 million to Penn National Gaming.

They now run Continental Hospitality Holdings LLC, which develops and manages hotels and casinos.

Lefton said a deal for the 24-acre parcel, owned by Stanford University, is expected to close in 30 to 60 days. He declined further comment about the project.

The group is paying $21 million for the parcel, which was donated to Stanford by previous owners who were unable to develop the land, according to documents obtained by the Post.

"The site is definitely one of the larger, more desirable sites left," said Steve Higgins, owner of Heritage West, a real estate brokerage and consulting firm that focuses on the Black Hawk and Central City markets.

The development would feature a 250-room hotel, 1,350 slot machines, at least 26 table games, a 1,500-space parking structure, a full-service spa and four restaurants.

It is expected to replicate the feel of a grand Western lodge with shake-style shingles, native stonework, metal roofing and wrought-iron lanterns.

If opened today, the casino would be the largest in the state based on the number of slot machines. The Isle of Capri is currently the largest with 1,191 machines.

Boulter's Colorado Mint casino project hit a roadblock a few years ago.

While searching for investors in 2002, he said, he was duped out of $250,000 by alleged scam artist Graham Gill.

Gill claimed he could guarantee a loan for the project with a mutual fund worth hundreds of millions, Boulter said. Gill was indicted on racketeering and fraud charges in 2002, fled the country after finding out about the charges, and was captured in Spain earlier this year. He is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 4.

Two New York lawyers indicted with Gill were acquitted in 2003 after a Colorado jury decided they had been defrauded by Gill. A San Diego financial consultant pleaded guilty to commercial bribery and received six months of probation.Two other defendants in the case pleaded guilty to misdemeanors and received probation.

Boulter helped build two other Black Hawk casinos and, despite the setback, continued to pursue the Colorado Mint project. Even with Weiser and Lefton's backing, the project isn't a sure bet.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce will underwrite a $200 million bond offering for the project, according to financial documents. It has received a building permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

But it has not received an excavation permit yet, said Sean McCartney, community planning and development director for Black Hawk.

Black Hawk's last new casino, the Mountain High, known then as Black Hawk Casino by Hyatt, was built four years ago.

"It's going to be a good stand-alone project," McCartney said of the Mint. "It's not going to require help from other developments."

Minden landmark to become casino

As reported by the

MINDEN, Nevada - An historic landmark in the heart of downtown Minden will become home to a casino, bakery and ice cream parlor under plans unveiled by the Hellwinkel family.

Don, Marlena and Robb Hellwinkel said they have reached agreement to lease the C.O.D. Garage property to Dennis Small and Jeff Smeath, owners of SlotWorld in Carson City. The slots-only Minden gaming operation would be known as the C.O.D. Casino.

"This is something we've been working on for some time and that will benefit the community," Marlena Hellwinkel said Friday.

Hellwinkel emphasized the historic appearance of the 93-year-old garage will be preserved as site improvements are made. She said there are plans to display vintage automobiles, garage equipment and automotive memorabilia in the casino.

The Hellwinkels said Small and Smeath have committed to invest more than $7 million on the project. The gaming operators plan to sublease space for the bakery and ice cream shop.

"We're excited about this venture and we've had a good response. The town believes this will generate more traffic to help support existing businesses," Small said.

He said it could take up to 18 months, and perhaps longer, for the project to become a reality. The timing is expected to coincide with Douglas County's plans to build a parking garage in the area.

The proposal requires a zoning change and is subject to public hearings before the Minden Town Board, Douglas County Planning Commission and Douglas County Commission.
Hellwinkel said the project is consistent with the Minden Plan for Prosperity, aimed at revitalizing the downtown core.

But she and Small acknowledged they are likely to face some resistance to a casino.
"We'd be foolish to think there won't be. But gaming is already in the area (with the nearby Carson Valley Inn),"
Hellwinkel said.

Town Board Chairman Bob Hadfield said the principals in the project will have to clearly define their plans.

"They have to convince people that a small casino fits in the area," Hadfield said.

In 1999, Park Cattle Co. and the Carson Valley Inn dropped plans for a satellite casino in the Gardnerville Ranchos after extensive community opposition.

The 22,500 square-foot former garage, on Esmeralda Avenue and vacant since April, is close to the town's historic residential neighborhood.

Historian and author Wynne Maule, who lives in the neighborhood, said finding uses for vacant property is important to the town. "It looks like a good plan to me. And maybe this will open up other opportunities," Maule said.

Tell us what you think about our newsletter. Copyright 2000-2005 Casino City. All rights reserved Casino City is a trademark of Please read our Disclaimer of Warranty