Monday, December 28, 2009


Sobriety checks set for Baltic, Montville

Norwich Bulletin
Posted Dec 26, 2009

State police will be conducting sobriety spot checks over three days in Montville and Baltic.

The resident trooper’s office in Baltic will conduct a drunken driving spot check from 5:30 p.m. Wednesday to 1:30 a.m. Thursday on Main Street in Baltic, approximately a quarter of a mile east of River Street.

State Police from Troop E in Montville will conduct spot checks in the vicinity of Route 32 in Montville from late Thursday through the early morning hours of Friday.ĘŻ

Copyright 2009 Norwich Bulletin. Some rights reserved

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Developer wants guests to feel at home
By Anthony Cronin

Publication: The Day

Published 12/27/2009 12:00 .

The front check-in desk is unobtrusive and adjoins a "grab and go" deli-type case with drinks and foods, everything from pastries to sandwiches and salads for busy travelers; there's also a small area for beer and wine. In addition, the six-story hotel features a dining area for guests with breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings (the hotel offers a complimentary breakfast). Crump, whose business experience includes hotel management, says he's spent a lot of time at the newest Hyatt Place as it prepared to open its doors to the public.

His firm, Stonestreet Hospitality, is one of four operating companies of the privately held Stonestreet Corp. The Rhode Island corporation's development interests range from Neiman Marcus retail stores to luxury waterfront developments and hotel construction management.

Suites-styled accommodations

Crump says the hotel's strategy includes attracting visitors from the nearby Mohegan Sun entertainment complex, which is a mile away. The hotel sits in an enviable location, right next to the highway connector leading to the casino, and the new hotel's entrance off Route 32 includes space for retail offerings. A building has already been erected for those retail shops, says Crump, although it still needs to be fully developed and construction finished once clients are found for 5,000 square feet of space.

The entire Hyatt Place footprint covers some six acres, and Crump estimates the entire project totals about $29 million.

Above the first-floor lobby and meeting areas, the Hyatt Place rooms are styled in a suites-like setting, with a seating area, eating area, a desk, and coffee maker and refrigerator.

Each room features a 42-inch high definition plasma screen television that also includes a plug-and-play feature, allowing various devices, from video games to laptop computers, to be easily plugged into a side console and display their sights and sounds on the large-screen television.

The hotel already has an agreement with Mohegan Sun's reservations department to make the Hyatt guest rooms available to interested casino patrons. "We have been truly welcomed as neighbors of Mohegan Sun," says Crump, who envisions the new hotel's customer mix as 75 percent casino-related and the rest leisure and business travelers.

Hyatt Place hotels ( are considered in the hospitality industry to be "upscale select-service" type accommodations, meaning they have many of the amenities - from 24/7 food service availability to suites-like layouts - that are found among the top brands. Hyatt Place hotels are a featured brand of the Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp. (, a global hospitality company whose brand is found in 45 countries and whose holdings now number more than 400 sites around the world. Hyatt markets its various hotels and resorts under numerous subsidiaries, including Hyatt, Hyatt Place, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Summerfield Suites.

Location an asset

For Crump and his Stonestreet Hospitality colleagues, the new hotel in Uncasville is a significant addition to their development holdings. Besides its proximity to Mohegan Sun, as well as the Foxwoods complex that also is a short drive away, the region's many tourism-related holdings and historic sites are expected to bring in new customers to the Hyatt Place.

Its location on Route 32 in Uncasville means it's close to the many shopping sites and restaurants that have opened recently, including the nearly 300,000-square-foot Montville Commons - the town's largest commercial development - a CVS Pharmacy and a Chili's Grill & Bar.

For Crump, the Dec. 20 opening of the new Hyatt Place Uncasville is a return of sorts to his roots in the hotel and hospitality industries, where he's worked in sales and management for a variety of hotels in New England. As he surveys the ground floor of the new hotel, Crump says he's very satisfied with his firm's latest development.

And, he quips, "It feels good to be a hotel guy again."

EDITORIAL COMMENT: The Hyatt Place was built for approximately an estimated cost of about $25 Million ($25,000,000.00). This is a much better deal than what the Mohegans were going to build a one thousand room hotel with casino for an estimated cost of $945 Million. How much did phase II cost (Sky Casino and 1,200 room hotel? Was it an estimate $1.2 Billion? Did the MTGA (the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority) spend their money wisely? Wasn't it originally going to cost an estimated $800 Million? Were there cost overruns? Who was responsible for this? Do you know?

The Oneidas at their Turning Stone Casino, built gas stations on the edges of their property and are selling gas. Couldn't the Mohegans have done the same thing? Could the Mohegans do that also with hotels and other things?

Why couldn't the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority do something like this? This hotel will probably pay for itself, unlike the Mohegan Sun's Hotel and future hotel (Project Horizon). Is it possible, that smaller hotels could make more money than larger hotels on site (the Mohegan Sun Casino)? Did the MTGA mess up again? Are they (the MTGA) short sighted? What do you think?

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Montauketts Want Recognition, Too

One of three self-declared chiefs says
A green tribe would mean green jobs

By Russell Drumm

(12/24/2009) Last week, when the Department of the Interior announced its decision to recognize the Shinnecock Indian Nation as a legitimate tribe — thus opening the way for federal aid and a potential deluge Morgan McGivern
Robert Cooper, the chief of the Montauketts, said his tribe would not go the casino route chosen by the Shinnecocks of Southampton, who received official government recognition as a tribe last week.

of wampum from casino gambling — one member of the greatly diminished and fractured Montaukett people said he wished them well.

“I give them congratulations,” Robert Cooper, a former East Hampton Town police detective and town board member, said on Monday. “They have been waiting for federal acknowledgement for a long, long time. They have lived as a tribe under the guidelines of the State of New York. I’ll express that to their board of trustees.”

Mr. Cooper claims to be chief of the Montauketts by virtue of his genealogy as well as his efforts to gain state and federal recognition for what he calls “the root tribe of Long Island.” He said on Monday that if “the Great Creator” wills it, the Montauketts will be the first “green tribe” of Native Americans and will do good works for the greater Montauk community without a reliance on slot machines and their followers.

“We know that in Montauk employment has always been hard to get and hold. It’s also a community full of retired people,” he said. “We know the future. The economy doesn’t hold much for places like ours. We will do things for the public the government can’t do in the 21st century.”

“We want to be the first green tribe. We can feed green energy back to the community,” Mr. Cooper said, by building an assisted living community or getting involved in fish farming with the help of grants that official recognition by the government could eventually bring.

Over the years, two other Montauketts, Robert Pharaoh of Sag Harbor and Robert Red Feather Stevenson of Cape May, N.J., have claimed the leadership role. Neither could be reached for comment. The legitimacy of the three men’s claims is a matter for the remaining tribal members to sort out. “There are probably a couple of thousand, who were spread to the four winds because of the fiasco of 1910,” Mr. Cooper said.

There is little doubt that it was the incremental duping of the Montauketts by settlers beginning in the 1600s and culminating in a 1910 decision in State Supreme Court that explains why Long Island’s easternmost natives are not recognized as a tribe as the Mashantucket-Pequots of Southern New England are and the Shinnecocks of Southampton are soon to be.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs has seven criteria that must be met before a group of native people can be considered a tribe. In addition to having an active political system, the group must have lived together in one place since 1900. The Shinnecocks can trace their habitation long before that.

As late as 1878, the State Supreme Court ruled that the Montaukett tribal organization still existed. One year later, when Arthur Benson purchased all of Montauk in order to create a resort for wealthy New Yorkers, the deed specified that the Montauketts maintained rights over certain areas.

Mr. Cooper said it was ironic that it was his grandmother Maria Fowler Pharaoh Johnson Banks and her brothers who sold the last remaining Montaukett land at Indian Field — but they did so, he was quick to add, without the approval of the federal government, a requirement of the Indian Nonintercourse Act of 1790. The act stated that the sale of Indian lands was not valid unless “made and duly executed at some public treaty held under the authority of the United States.”

As a condition of the sale, Mr. Cooper’s grandmother moved with a few other Montauketts to Freetown, the section of East Hampton where freed slaves and expelled Indians lived. Mr. Cooper still lives in his grandmother’s house in Freetown.

When the sale to Jane Benson, Arthur Benson’s widow, was challenged in 1910 by Wyandank Pharaoh, the Montauketts’ chief at the time, the case went before Justice Abel Blackmar, who closed the case by declaring the Montauketts extinct.

“The Montauk tribe of Indians has disintegrated and been absorbed into the mass of citizens . . . at the time of the commencement of this action there was no tribe of Montauk Indians,” Justice Blackmar said.

Mr. Cooper said on Monday that he had filed the Montauketts’ tribal claim with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and was also seeking recognition from the State Legislature. He said he would ask both entities to waive the requirement for tribal residency because the 1909 sale did not have federal approval as per the Indian Non-Intercourse Act, nor was Justice Blackmar’s court a federal one.

There is more than an adequate record of the tribe’s existence, and in fact its predominance, on Long Island prior to 1900, Mr. Cooper said. In his opinion, at the time of the first English settlers, Chief Wyandanch was sachem of all of Long Island’s native people, including the Shinnecocks.

John Strong, the author of “The Montaukett Indians of Eastern Long Island,” said he thought that the Montauketts were a tribe, but no more or less so than the Shinnecocks. It was the close relationship between the Montauketts’ sachem, Wyandanch, and Lion Gardiner, East Hampton’s first European settler, that led to the extension of Montaukett power, not a tribal dominance.

“His authority never extended beyond the English musket,” Mr. Strong said of Gardiner. “He was their man. He monitored land sales. There was a lot of intrigue between [Long Island] sachems, but there was no confederacy like the Iroquois.”

Mr. Cooper has supplied State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. of Sag Harbor with the Montauketts’ tribal pedigree. As a result, the legislator has introduced a bill to begin the process of state recognition.

“He has a substantial level of documentation,” Mr. Thiele said of Mr. Cooper. “In my opinion, [their lands and identity] were wrongly taken away from them. I put in a piece of legislation to create a process by which they can prove it to the Department of State. The Department of State would make a recommendation to the Legislature.”

Mr. Thiele said he was familiar with the Montauketts’ internal disputes about their leader. “The Legislature can’t decide that,” he said, which was why his legislation did not preclude the other presumed chiefs from submitting their own evidence.

“I’m trying to do something to help my ancestors fulfill their souls, let their souls rest,” Mr. Cooper said. “I want the next seven generations to have fruitful lives on Long Island. We have the right. Nobody has the right to take what the Great Creator gave us.”


Norwich, Conn. — The Norwich Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint from 7 p.m. Saturday through 3 a.m. Sunday.

Nationally, about 41 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related, which translates into an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 30 minutes. This number increases during holidays nationally


Thursday, December 24, 2009


Shinnecocks mull boro gaming bid

By Howard Koplowitz
Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Shinnecock Indian Nation of Long Island plans to open a casino, possibly at Belmont Park,
The Shinnecock Indian Nation on Long Island is one step closer to federal recognition, which could pave the way for the tribe to open up a casino either at Aqueduct Race Track or Belmont Park.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Recognition has issued a preliminary ruling that the Shinnecock should be added to the list of federally recognized tribes in the country.

“As a result of this finding, our more than 30-year quest for federal recognition is finally within our grasp,” Shinnecock Board of Trustees Chairman Randy King said in a statement. “We look forward to reclaiming our rightful place on this list, which will enable us to qualify for federal programs long denied to our people. To be denied the ability to partner with the federal government on housing, health care, educational and economic justice initiatives is no longer tolerable.”

The tribe has been recognized by New York state since colonial times, but the Shinnecock have been fighting for federal recognition since 1978.

“This preliminary ruling makes clear that our placement on the federal list is only a matter of time. We look forward to improving the quality of life for our people, who have waited far too long for this day,” said Shinnecock Trustee Richard Bess.

In 2007, the tribe proposed a casino at Aqueduct Race Track, but it did not have the blessing of the area’s elected officials. State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) said the proposal was too ambitious because it included space for poker and blackjack tables.

The proposal was later rescinded.

Shinnecock spokeswoman Beverly Jensen said the tribe is waiting on federal recognition before fully developing plans for a casino.

“The plan is this: We don’t have a plan,” she said. “We are definitely going to look into a casino. Right now we need that federal recognition recognized.”

Jensen said the Shinnecock reservation in Southampton is not suitable to build a casino so the tribe is looking to build one elsewhere.

ADVERTISEMENT“We don’t have enough room. We have a very small reservation,” she said.

Jensen said the tribe has all options open as to where to build a casino once it is federally recognized.

“At the moment, we are looking at any place and we are looking at all places,” including Belmont and Aqueduct, she said. “We are not site-specific at this time.”

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Gaming Expansions Will Benefit Penn In 2010
Filed in Penn National Gaming (PENN) on Dec.19, 2009

Penn National Gaming (PENN: 27.36 +0.74%) favored 2009 fairly well compared to others in the gaming industry as the majority of the companies casinos are located in the Midwest where flat visitation rates and spending have been reported.

Many states have been looking towards gambling expansions to help supplement budgets and analysts feel that Penn has positioned themselves to benefit substantially in 2010.

In West Virginia, voters approved the expansion of table games in slot parlors. Penn plans to incorporate tables at its Charles Town Races & Slots facility in the first half of 2010. Joseph Greff analyst with J.P. Morgan says the addition could be worth $1.32 a share in incremental equity for Penn.

Ohio, Kansas City and Pennsylvania also have similar bills pending legislative approval.

Penn is in the beginning phases of developing two casinos in Ohio and one in Kansas City. The company already owns and operates one in Pennsylvania.

Missouri and Colorado markets also received a lift from the easing of game restrictions which should benefit Penn in 2010 with two casinos in these states.

However investors seem to fear that Penn will increase its offer on the bankrupt Fontainebleau in order to secure a place in the Las Vegas market and overpay for the rights to the property.

Last month billionaire Carl Icahn outbid Penn’s proposed stalking horse bid, however the bankruptcy auction has not been finalized and bids can still be made

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Is this the same Penn National that sold a horse race track in Pennsylvania? Why didn't these people (Penn National) try to open a casino, on their property, at Pocono Downs?

Did they sell it to the Mohegans because maybe they (Penn National) knew they couldn't make money dealing with the state at 55% to 62% off the top to the state?

If they (Penn National) couldn't make it with those percentage, what made the Mohegan Tribal Council under then Chairman Mark Brown think, they could make it in Pennsylvania?

Did the Mohegan Tribal Council make a big mistake opening the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs? Could it be that now Penn national is looking to open casinos elsewhere with the money the Mohegans paid for Pocono Downs? What do you think?

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Sebastian says he kept guns, owed cousin nothing
By Karen Florin

Publication: The Day
Published 12/18/2009 12:00

Eastern Pequot tribal member Mark R. Sebastian denied transferring pistols to a cousin who is a convicted felon at his firearms trial Monday.

His response to the allegations, from the first time a federal agent asked him about it, has been, "Emphatically, repeatedly, no," Sebastian said.

Sebastian is accused of buying three pistols on Nov. 1, 2005, transferring them immediately to his cousin, Calvin "CJ" Sebastian, and later giving the cousin a fourth handgun. In taking his case to trial, he turned down the state's offer to plead guilty in exchange for a prison sentence of up to two years. He now faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted.

The key witness against Sebastian is his cousin, Calvin, a convicted drug dealer whom the state brought from federal prison to testify against Sebastian. Calvin Sebastian said he went with Mark to Ron's Guns in East Lyme, picked out the weapons and took possession of them that day. He said Mark gave him a fourth gun, his personal pistol, at a later date. The cousin said Mark Sebastian owed him money for loans and narcotics.

Mark Sebastian said he took the guns to the Eastern Pequot reservation to test-fire them, then brought them to his house in Groton. He said the guns remained there after his ex-wife, Catherine Young, served him with divorce papers, and that was the last he saw them.

Sebastian denied he owed his cousin money, and said, in fact, that he had taken in Calvin's girlfriend when Calvin was incarcerated and had paid for $900 in collect calls from the prison, car repairs and moving expenses.

Defense attorney Adam A. Laben also called on Sebastian's girlfriend, brother, sister and fellow tribal members in an effort to prove to the jury that Sebastian kept the handguns.

Linda D. Hazard-Stephens, Sebastian's girlfriend, said she saw two handguns - one black and one silver - in a box when she visited Sebastian at his trailer on the Eastern Pequot reservation around Christmas in 2005.

Tribal member Eugene R. Young Jr. said he saw Sebastian at the reservation on Nov. 1, 2005, with guns. Young said he remembered the date because the tribe's federal recognition, granted preliminarily in 2002, had just been overturned by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Young said he was talking with Sebastian's brother, Ashbow, when Sebastian pulled up.

"He had a box in his car and he had some guns in it," Young testified. He said there were at least three guns. Ashbow Sebastian testified that he, too, saw the guns that day. He said Calvin Sebastian was not with his brother that day.

Sebastian's sister, Dawnrae Rocha, said her brother showed her a handgun at Christmastime in 2005. She said they have gone target practicing on the reservation together, and her brother always brought at least one gun.

William M. Glenn, a private investigator for the defense, testified that he interviewed Calvin Sebastian in April 2009 in a Rhode Island prison. Calvin told him the men took the guns directly to Calvin's girlfriend's house in New London and locked them up, and that Calvin planned to hold them as collateral until Mark repaid a $1,000 debt.

Prosecutor Paul J. Narducci will cross-examine Sebastian when the trial resumes today. The jury then will hear closing arguments and the judge's instructions before beginning deliberations.


December 18, 2009

Mashantuckets officially default on Foxwoods loans
By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published 12/17/2009 12:00

COMMENTS ( 24 ) Legal ramifications in 'uncharted waters' after Mashantuckets fail to make $7.5 million interest payment

It's not the kind of milestone that warrants a parade.

Without acknowledging it overtly, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe officially defaulted Wednesday on a $21.25 million bond-interest payment that was due in full a month earlier. At the time, the tribe made a partial payment of about $14.2 million.

Wednesday marked the end of a 30-day grace period for the balance.

The tribe, owner of Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, forwarded an inquiry about the remaining $7 million due to Joele Frank of Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher, the New York firm it hired to handle communications related to its restructuring of more than $2 billion worth of debt.

"We refer you to the Nov. 16 statement," a spokesman there said. "Use that language. We're not going to go beyond that."

In that statement, the tribe announced that "the trustee for the tribe's $500 million 8.5 percent notes due 2015 has received and distributed approximately $14.2 million of the $21.25 million semi-annual interest payment due today … The tribe does not currently anticipate the remaining amounts due will be paid within the grace period, which will result in an event of default … on Dec. 16, 2009."

Despite its inevitability, the "event" was duly noted among those involved in tribal gaming and the financing of it.

"The actual date doesn't change anything; everybody's been anticipating it," said Kevin Quigley, an attorney with Hamilton, Quigley & Twait, a St. Paul, Minn., law firm that works with tribal governments and casino operators. "We've been monitoring the (Mashantuckets') debt-restructuring. The fact that it's such a large amount and the fact that it's one of the leading casinos in the country - in the world, really - makes it significant."

The Mashantuckets' default, the latest and largest of several involving tribal casinos, "drives home the point that we're going to be working out this issue over the next 12 to 18 months as the economy works itself out," Quigley said. "We're in uncharted waters."

It's still too early to tell how the Mashantuckets' financial situation is likely to play out, Quigley said. Most experts believe a bankruptcy filing is out of the question, given sovereign tribes' status as governmental units, he said, but no federal court has yet been asked to rule on the matter.

"It all depends on three things - the patience of lenders, the ability of the Pequots to earn their way out of it and the overall economic recovery permitting both sides some breathing space," he said.

Quigley said he was aware of a case in which a financially troubled tribe and its creditors discussed forming a new casino management team, though he declined to identify the tribe. Any plan calling for outsiders to assume management of a tribal casino would be subject to the approval of the National Indian Gaming Commission, as would any change in a tribe's gaming-revenue allocation plan, he noted.

It remains unclear whether the Mashantuckets' creditors would eventually seek to limit the distribution of gaming revenue to the tribe, which relies on the income to finance its government and to provide payments to tribal members.

In late October, the tribe entered into a so-called forbearance agreement with the banks that hold a $700 million line of credit that's due in July. The agreement allows the parties to continue negotiating terms of the loan through Jan. 20. Other deadlines related to the terms of various classes of senior bonds are approaching.

Those who hold the 8.5 percent bonds affected by Wednesday's default do not expect the tribe to seek a forbearance agreement with bondholders, a source who spoke on condition of anonymity said this week.

"We do expect to receive a restructuring proposal," the source said, adding that legal action is an option if the tribe offers terms that are considered too "draconian."

Friday, December 18, 2009


Norwich Bulletin
Posted Dec 17, 2009 @ 11:38 PM

Montville, Conn. — The 176-room Hyatt Place Uncasville hotel on Route 32 is scheduled to open for business Sunday.

John Juszczyk, assistant project manager for Hyatt, said earlier this week that he had been working on last-minute preparations for a final inspection by the town on the $16 million, six-story hotel.

Dave Jensen, Montville’s deputy building official, said the hotel’s final “punch list” of items needed for completion partly included proper use of signs, fire safety check and proper means of exit.

Mayor Joe Jaskiewicz said the town is pleased that Hyatt persisted with its plans despite the economy’s downturn.

In 2008, Mohegan Tribe, which operates the Mohegan Sun casino nearby, suspended construction of the remaining $734 million of the Earth Expansion, a project that included a hotel and was expected to create 1,200 permanent jobs and at least as many construction jobs.
Jaskiewicz said hotel officials have told him nearly all the rooms are booked for New Year’s Eve.

He’s also glad the hotel will generate taxes for the town.

“It will bring people in the town and hopefully not only go to the casino, but go to the shopping mall and do some shopping and go to the restaurants in town,” he said.

Hyatt spokeswoman Amy Patti said each room has the same layout, which includes a 42-inch high-definition TV, and guests receive complimentary breakfast and wireless access. There’s also an indoor swimming pool, a guest kitchen and 850 square feet of meeting space.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE; How come Hyatt can build a hotel, probably for a lot less money than what the Mohegans had planned (Project Horizon)?

Hyatt, I am sure paid a lot less for their hotel, and I am sure they will be able to fill the rooms. I believe because of their credit rating they didn't have to pay the high interest rate that the Mohegans (MTGA) will have to pay down the road to finish their hotel.

Will the Mohegan hotel (Project Horizon) ever make money, and will it ever get completed? Did the Mohegan Tribal Council ruin a good thing? Did the Mohegan Tribal Council under Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum, Lynn Malerba, Mark Brown and Roland Harris cause the financial problems the Mohegan Tribe finds itself in? What do you think?



State accused of stalling on Twin River ‘casino’ issue

01:00 AM EST on Monday, December 14, 2009

By Katherine Gregg

Journal State House Bureau

PROVIDENCE — More than three months after filing a complaint about Twin River pitching itself as a “casino” in its advertising, Narragansett Tribal Councilman Randy Noka is still waiting for the attorney general’s office and the Carcieri administration to take a position.

Calling the months-long lack of response “unsatisfactory,” Noka said, “Lincoln will probably be a casino before I get an answer” after being apprised by a newspaper reporter Thursday of the status of the complaint he filed, as a citizen, with Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch in late August, in which he alleged violations of the state’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

The attorney general’s office took no position, opting instead to send the complaint over to the head of the state Lottery with this explanation from Deputy Attorney General Gerald J. Coyne: “Because the Twin River facility is regulated by the Rhode Island Lottery, your agency, rather than this office has jurisdiction to address Mr. Noka’s complaint.”

In his Sept. 21 letter to state Lottery chief Gerald Aubin, Coyne noted the complaint also alleges a violation of the state’s false advertising law.

“In order to avoid duplicating the efforts of your agency, it is requested that the results of your review be provided to this office, so that we may evaluate whether any further action is warranted with regard to the remainder of Mr. Noka’s allegation,” Coyne wrote.

With the Lottery reduced in recent years from a stand-alone agency to a division within the Department of Revenue, Aubin did not respond to repeated inquiries in recent days.

But his boss, Gary Sasse, who doubles as director of revenue and the Department of Administration, issued this statement in response to inquiries.

He said that “Mr. Noka’s assertions regarding a possible violation of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act [are] being reviewed by lawyers for DOR; however, we’d note that our initial review indicates that there is no applicable Rhode Island law related to the definition or use of the word “casino.” In fact, the dictionary definition of “casino” is “A public room or building for gambling and other entertainment.”

“We would be able to comment further when DOR’s review is complete.”

Noka said he wasn’r “surprised I haven’t gotten an answer yet,” or that his complaint had been “punted” from one state official to another, but he views their inaction so far as “a violation of my rights and every citizen’s right” to have state authorities enforce state laws.

The tribe tried and failed to win voter approval in 2006 for a Harrah’s-backed Narragansett Indian casino in West Warwick, after a heated campaign in which the owners of the Lincoln track-and-slot parlor played a major role in financing the opposition.

Twin River’s own fortunes have since turned, with the track in bankruptcy and its creditors poised to take over.

But in 2006, Twin River’s owners funneled at least $2.7 million into a successful campaign to defeat the proposed West Warwick casino, and then started touting their own newly renovated gambling hall as a casino after introducing “virtual” blackjack tables and roulette tables, and winning state approval to stay open round-the-clock.

Under state law, voters have to approve a constitutional amendment for a privately owned and operated casino. UTGR, the holding company that owns Twin River, has not sought a constitutional amendment to operate as a casino.

“I write to you cognizant and appreciative of the fact that the Narragansetts receive a small percentage of VLT [video lottery terminal] revenue from Twin River,” Noka wrote in his original complaint. “However, what’s fair is fair and the law is the law. … Frankly, I am surprised and dismayed that neither Governor Carcieri, nor you have acted to order Twin River to cease holding itself out as a casino in Rhode Island.

“After all, the governor was vehemently anti-casino when we were seeking one and often referred to casinos as creating ‘economic wastelands,’ ” he wrote.

But Twin River has taken the position — with tacit Lottery approval — that it does not have to [secure a constitutional amendment] in order to offer its current gambling menu.

Spokeswoman Patti Doyle said Twin River’s marketing team also “took a look at the dictionary definition [of a casino] as a place of entertainment and gambling,” and decided they had “latitude to use the word in advertising.”

In 2005, state lawmakers decided to give the Narragansetts, who have no role in Twin River’s operation or ownership, a small percentage of its video-slot revenue, which totaled $674,130 during the year that ended June 30.


Federal ruling revives Calverton casino talk
Supervisor-elect warns of 'social costs' of Indian gaming

Federal recognition of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, which gained preliminary approval this week, opens the door for a possible casino in Calverton.
But local leaders don't think that may be such a good idea.

Riverhead Supervisor-elect Sean Walter called Tuesday's ruling long overdue but expressed concern that the tribe is setting its sites on the Enterprise Park at Calverton, or EPCAL, where hundreds of acres are available for development.

Mr. Walter said he would have to weigh his options as an elected official but added that he doesn't believe a gaming facility would "create the kind of atmosphere I would like to see at EPCAL."

"I think that is a tremendous burden to put on the west end of Riverhead and the east end of Brookhaven with regard to the social costs," Mr. Walter said. "But as an elected official I have the duty to look at every side and weigh everything."

MaryAnn Johnston, president of the Affiliated Brookhaven Civic Organization, also welcomed the preliminary recognition, but had concerns about the possibility of a Shinnecock casino here.

"I don't see any reason why [the casino] needs to go anywhere else other than their reservation," she said.

Tuesday's ruling by the U.S. Department of the Interior recognizing the tribe starts a public comment period that is likely to end with the tribe being added to the list of federally recognized tribes as early as June 2010.

With recognition, the tribe will be eligible for federal funding and Class II gaming, meaning they would be allowed to install video slot machines on their land but no table games. In the past, tribal leaders have expressed interest in running a full-fledged gaming facility at Belmont Racetrack or the former Northrop Grumman site in Calverton. A spokeswoman for the tribe said Wednesday there are no plans and no favored site, pointing out that the recognition process it not yet complete.

"As a result of this finding, our more than 30-year quest for federal recognition is finally within our grasp," Shinnecock Board of Trustees chairman Randy King said in a statement. "We look forward to reclaiming our rightful place on this list, which will enable us to qualify for federal programs long denied to our people. To be denied the ability to partner with the federal government on housing, health care, educational and economic justice initiatives is no longer tolerable.

"This recognition comes after years of anguish and frustration for many members of our Nation, living and deceased," Mr. King added.

The Shinnecocks began their effort to secure federal recognition in the late 1970s. Their latest petition comprised more than 500 pages, with 40,000 pages of supplemental information, including genealogical reports and historical documents such as land deeds.

The news was welcomed by local officials.

"Today is truly history in the making," said Southampton Supervisor-elect Anna Throne-Holst. "We recognize the Shinnecocks as the region's first inhabitants, and the town's relationship with them is a deep, long-standing and very special one."

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Shinnecock Tribe Jubilant, Plans For Casino
Though The Residents Of Upscale Southampton May Not Like It, The Area May One Day Be Teaming With Gamblers Reporting
Jennifer McLogan SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation of Southampton is celebrating the news they've waited to hear for decades -- a preliminary approval to formally recognize the tribe could soon open the reservation to casino gambling.

Along the shores of the 800-acre reservation there was ecstasy and emotion among the members of the tribe.

"They told us what the ruling was and people just bolted out the door, and tears, just tears of joy and I'm just still kind of shaken," said tribal chairman Randy King.

Following a 30-year court battle the ruling from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs potentially clears a path for the region's first casino.

"We like to be wanted and that is a good position for us to be in. And we are just waiting for a call from the governor's office to sit down and we can start negotiating terms and sites," tribal trustee Fred Bess said.

If formal federal recognition is granted as expected, within six months the tribe would be entitled to open a casino with thousands of video slot machines. It would be just stone's throw from one of Long Island's wealthiest communities and celebrity mansions.

Southampton residents CBS 2 HD spoke to didn't share the tribe's jubilation.

"It's gonna bring more traffic. It's so bad in the summer time," one person said.

"I'm not in favor of casinos or gambling," another said.

"It's certainly going to change the tranquility of the village," added another resident.

But leaders said they would prefer to use their Southampton lands as a bargaining chip and negotiate with the state and federal government to build a resort casino elsewhere, perhaps Belmont or Aqueduct, with table games, restaurants and hotels.

"A casino is just part of economic opportunity. And every nation needs an economy to be self sufficient. It's just one of the benefits that come with being federally recognized," said tribal trustee Gordell Wright.

Recognition, leaders said, will bring badly needed funding for social and educational programs, and housing help for its 1,000 members whose history goes back to the 1600s.

"I absolutely believe they deserve recognition and they deserve to earn a living!" one resident said. "If it's going to bring good things to the economy and east end of Long Island it should happen."

The tribe is also hoping to resolve more than $1 billion in land disputes involving the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club and Stony Brook's Southampton campus.

Tribal leaders said rather than waiting until May for the recognition process to end, they aim to get on with casino plans without delay.

According to the Department of the Interior, the tribe had to meet seven criteria for approval and needed to demonstrate it was a continuous American Indian entity since before 1900.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Congratulations to the Shinnecock tribe. It looks like this time the B.I.A. got it right, unlike what happened to two Connecticut Indian tribes who were given Federal Recognition only to have the State of Connecticut and other entities, have it rescinded.

Insiders from Long Island, say there are rumors that a trade by the Shinnecocks with Suffolk County that part of Gabreski Airport (the former Suffolk Air Force Base, in Westhampton) could be traded so a casino could be built. There is also a rumor that Calverton (the former Grumman facility) or at Pilgrim State Hospital (Brentwood area) could be used to build a casino, besides the Aqueduct or Belmont (horse race tracks on the borders on Nassau and Queens Counties).

No matter which location is chosen, the site should be on the east side of New York City (Manhattan), basically giving N.Y.C. inhabitants two choices for slot machines (the other being Yonkers Raceway). This could basically keep slot players from traveling to Atlantic City, New Jersey casinos or the casinos in Connecticut.

Is this going to happen? What will the effect be on the casinos in Southeastern Connecticut? Is this the beginning of the end for the casinos in Connecticut? What plans do the Mohegan Tribal Council have to offset this situation? What do you think?


Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Two Casinos' November slots revenue down from year ago
By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published 12/16/2009 12:00

Slot-machine revenue at the region's casinos was down last month, if only slightly in the case of Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, both owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe.

The Foxwoods news, considered relatively good given the recession's yearlong drag on the casinos' income, came on the eve of the Mashantuckets' expected default on the balance of a bond interest payment that was due Nov. 16. The tribe made a partial payment of about $14.2 million on that date and indicated it did not expect to pay the remaining $7 million due by the end of a 30-day grace period.

The tribe provided no statement Tuesday regarding today's expected default.

While the Foxwoods casinos' November slots "win" of $53.7 million was only 1.4 percent less than the total for November 2008, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reported that Mohegan Sun's November win of $59.6 million was down 10.8 percent over the same month a year ago.

Both Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun had reported year-over-year declines of about 4 percent for October.

"We had no more shows in November than in October, so we think it's our recommitment to providing five-star service," Robert Victoria, Foxwoods' senior vice president of consumer marketing, said of the casino's slot numbers. "We're trying to give our clients a little extra, and we're seeing a bump up in visitation and a little more spending per visit."

Victoria said Foxwoods officials were encouraged by the "flattening" in the year-over-year decline in slot revenue and by the prospects for improving the casinos' market share.

Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan authority, acknowledged that he was hoping for no worse than another single-digit decline in slot revenue in November but said it was best to consider October and November results together in judging performance.

"If you look at the handle (the total amount wagered on slot machines), we're only down 4.4 percent for the two months combined," he said. "You'll also see that our slots are a little looser (than Foxwoods').

"We're very happy to command the high market share that we do considering the many more (hotel) rooms at Foxwoods and their somewhat more liberal use of free-slot play."

In November, Mohegan Sun's slots win amounted to 52.6 percent of the Connecticut market; Foxwoods' share was 47.4 percent.

Figures released Tuesday showed that Foxwoods patrons redeemed more than $4.3 million worth of free-play coupons in November, while just under $3.5 million in free-play coupons were redeemed at Mohegan Sun.

Mohegan Sun held, or kept, 8.14 percent of the $732.2 million wagered on its 6,709 machines last month for an average daily win per machine of $296.08. The Foxwoods casinos, which operated 7,451 machines, held 8.69 percent of their handle of $618.3 million for a daily win per machine of $240.28.

Mohegan Sun forwarded nearly $15 million in November slot win to the state, while Foxwoods contributed $13.8 million.

Last week, Atlantic City's 11 casinos reported a 13.4 percent decline in November gaming revenues, which followed two consecutive months of somewhat encouraging single-digit declines. In November, slots revenue was down 9.5 percent while table-games revenue was down 21 percent, according to the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

Connecticut's casinos do not regularly report their table-games revenue

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Tuesday, January 12, 2010 / 3:09 PM

Feds slated to decide Tuesday if L.I. tribe will be recognized
Written by Frank Eltman, AP on Dec 15th, 2009 and filed under Featured, Long Island News, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

A small tribe of Indians based in Long Island’s Hamptons region is awaiting word on whether the federal government will give it formal recognition.

An Indian casino (AP)

A favorable decision could lead the Shinnecock Indians to eventually open an Indian-run casino.

Their leaders tried to open a casino on tribal land in Southampton in 2003. They were told they first need the Bureau of Indian Affairs to formally recognize the Shinnecock as a tribe before any discussions about a casino can begin.

BIA officials have been reviewing ancestral records and other historical documents.

The agency said last spring it expected a preliminary decision by Tuesday.

If they win that round, final approval could come next spring.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press

Monday, December 14, 2009


Looking back for strength
By Ann Baldelli

Publication: The Day

Published 12/13/2009 12:00 0

When Lynn Malerba was elected the first female chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribe two months ago, her mother Loretta Roberge offered some advice.

"All I said is, 'As long as you remain honest, keep your feet on the ground and work for the betterment of the tribe, everything will be fine,’" Roberge recalled saying to her daughter on the historic occasion.

In a long line of notable leaders, dating all the way back to the 1635-83 tenure of the revered sachem Uncas, Malerba is one of only a handful of women to fill a key Mohegan leadership role.

Upon her election in early October, she invoked the memory and contributions of past female tribal leaders like medicine women Gladys Tantaquidgeon and Emma Baker, and others, including her own mother. Roberge served 30 years as a tribal councilor and is a 50-plus-year member of the Mohegan's burial committee.

But while women have made significant contributions to the tribe and filled culturally important positions, Malerba is the Mohegan's first elected female leader in modern history, and perhaps ever.

Commenting on her daughter's new role, Roberge said she is simply carrying on a family tradition. Roberge's paternal grandfather, Burrill H. Fielding, better known as Chief Matahga, led the tribe from 1937-52.

But more recent tribal leaders face vastly different challenges than their predecessors did, with the Mohegan's billion-dollar gaming empire the focus now. The economic downturn has cut into the tribe's profits at Mohegan Sun and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, with the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority reporting a net income of $119.3 million at the end of September, down 20.0 percent from the year before.

Malerba's challenge will be guiding the 1,800-member tribe and its casino-resort businesses through the tough financial times, balancing the needs of tribal members and government with the responsibility of keeping a Fortune 500-like operation in the black.

It's not going to be easy. Recent tribal chairmen have been replaced after a single term, taking the heat for the difficult decisions they have made.

For Malerba's mother, Roberge, it was a different time. She served much of her council tenure before the tribe was federally recognized in 1994 and opened the first phase of its Mohegan Sun casino in 1996.

Not that the pre-recognition/pre-casino councils didn't have headaches of their own. They did.

At meetings they would take up collections to pay for a ream of paper and roll of stamps, the tools they needed to wage their lifelong effort to win federal recognition and the health, education and housing benefits it would afford.

Meeting at homes or in the Mohegan Church, councilors pieced together the documentation necessary to make their federal case as an enduring social and political unit, a community, required to win recognition and its benefits.

And when in 1989 the tribe was initially denied that right because of a gap in evidence during the 1940s and 50s, it was its women who produced the birth announcements, wedding reception lists, and obituaries that sealed the case proving the Mohegan Tribe had been a steady presence in Uncasville (named for sachem Uncas) for nearly two centuries.

Recognition and the casino has afforded the Mohegans improved health care, education and housing, as well as other benefits. But it has also changed its government, adding the responsibility of overseeing a billion-dollar business.

Twenty-five years ago Roberge and others chipped in for the stamps and paper, and to pay the bill for the tribe's first phone, which was kept locked in a closet at the Mohegan Church. Today, the Mohegans have 8,000 phones at their casino and government offices and send out 13.5 million pieces of mail annually.

Times have changed and so have the responsibilities.

Malerba, 56, who has worked as a health care manager in the private sector and for the tribe, has a master's degree in public policy from the University of Connecticut. But her greatest asset as tribal chairwoman is her heritage. She was raised a Mohegan, on Mohegan Hill, in a large extended family that never once doubted that one day the Mohegans would be recognized for who they are - a proud Indian tribe.

No doubt there will be difficult days ahead for Chairwoman Malerba, but when they arrive, she can look for inspiration from other Mohegans who served before her.

Ann Baldelli is associate editorial page editor

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: A Mohegan tribal member called me on Sunday and said, have you read the article in the Sunday New London Day? His comment was that he felt Lynn Malerba was running scared. I read and posted the article. You be the judge.

Tribal members reminded me, that lots of tribal members bought stamps and pitched in over the years, before there was a Mohegan Sun Casino. Not just the people mentioned in the article. Does anyone, remember? Are these tribal members correct?

Did Chairwoman Malerba vote to build the Earth Tower Hotel (Project Horizon)? Did Lynn vote to build the Mohegan Tribal Government Community Center, without the financing in place? Did Lynn vote to do the permanent facility at Pocono Downs? Could the answer to the three questions be yes?

Are the CRANES OF SHAME, finally coming down? Is it a tribute to the stupidity of the Tribal Council? Was it poor planning? Is Malerba and her fellow Tribal Councilors, to blame for the financial situation, the Mohegan Tribe finds itself in?

Is the ECONOMY an excuse for poor decisions by the Tribal Council? Is the article hinting of cutbacks for Mohegan Tribal Members?

By taking the CRANES OF SHAME down, is the Mohegan Tribal Council telling us (the Mohegan Tribe) something? Is the article hinting of upcoming doom?

Is the article hinting that Malerba can't do much about the financial situation, the Mohegan Tribe finds itself in? What do you think?



Back Home .Norwich/New London leading state in jobs lost
Casino slowdown at root of decline.

Norwich Bulletin
Posted Dec 11, 2009 @ 12:00 AM


Norwich, Conn. — .Declining business at the region’s two casinos has hit Eastern Connecticut’s economy broadside, according to a University of Connecticut report.

The decline of gambling and other revenues at Foxwoods Resort Casino’s two properties, which includes MGM Grand, and at Mohegan Sun has dried up jobs and construction activity.

Norwich/New London was tops among the state’s four major areas in percentage of job losses, the winter 2010 edition of The Connecticut Economy reported.

Non-farm jobs in Norwich/New London fell 4.2 percent in the third quarter from the year-earlier period. Willimantic/Danielson, which is not one of the state’s four largest areas, had a 4.7 percent decline.

Workers leaving Eastern Connecticut gave a boost to the statistics, wrote Steven P. Lanza, executive editor of the 24-page quarterly report.

“A shrinking labor force has helped keep the area’s unemployment rate below the statewide average,” he wrote.

Norwich/New London’s third-quarter unemployment rate was 7.7 percent, up from 5.9 percent a year earlier. The statewide figure was 8.1 percent, rising from 6 percent in the prior year.

Willimantic/Danielson’s jobless rate climbed to 8.9 percent from 6.8 percent.

The pace of layoffs is expected to slow, improving comparisons for the region versus the state.

“Maintaining that status (below the statewide unemployment rate) in coming quarters may be made easier, if as anticipated, job losses tail off in 2010,” Lanza wrote.

Casino slowdowns were responsible for one-third of Norwich-area job losses, the report states.

Jobs in “government,” which include casinos, fell 5.1 percent. Construction jobs fell 17.8 percent.
Norwich-area housing statistics are also closely tied to casino fortunes, the report found.

Third-quarter housing permits fell 5.5 percent from a year ago, while housing prices fell 11.7 percent. Willimantic/Danielson saw permits fall 17.4 percent with prices unchanged.

“Housing conditions should improve in 2010, although the area will still lag other regions unless casino activity rebounds,” Lanza wrote.

Health and education was the only job sector to grow in Norwich/New London, rising 1 percent, the report said.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: A Mohegan Tribal Member called me up on Sunday and said did you read the article about Lynn Malerba, in the New London Day. The Tribal Member said Malerba is running scarred. I read the article and posted it here for you to read.

The Tribal Council and its supporters, continue to blame the ECONOMY. The Facts are business has been going down for over the last two years. Could it be instead of the ECONOMY being the problem, it was poor business decisions by the MTGA (the Mohegan Tribal Council)?

Didn't Chairwoman Malerba and members of the Tribal Council vote for the permanent facility at Pocono Downs? Didn't the Tribal Council under Chairwoman Malerba, recently borrow funds at between a eleven and twelve percent (11% to 12%). Wasn't Malerba part of the Past Mohegan Tribal Council who's decisions had our credit rating go to BB to the current CCC- (junk Bonds)? Did Malerba vote to build the Earth Hotel (Project Horizon ? Did Malerba vote to build the Government Community Center, without the financing in place? Did she want to build something that some tribal members really don't want and think we (the Mohegan Tribe) can afford?

The CRANES OF SHAME are coming down. Are they a testament of the Tribal Councils bad business decisions? Where is the MTGA (Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority) going to get the money for future projects, like Palmer, Massachusetts? What about finishing the Project Horizon hotel? Does the MTGA have any other choice but to try and get a partner to finish it? Will the Mohegans get a partner to build a hotel at Pocono Downs? Isn't having business partners, part of the problem that got the Mohegan Tribe in this financial mess to begin with?

Is this spin by the Malerba and her tribal Council? What do you think?

Friday, December 11, 2009


Sun, Foxwoods top gaming industry in customer satisfaction
For The Norwich Bulletin
Posted Dec 03, 2009 @ 11:40 PM

Eastern Connecticut’s casinos and their hotels lead the nation’s gaming industry in customer satisfaction, a ranking that puts them in a strong position to capture additional entertainment dollars when the economy rebounds.

According to a recent Market Metrix Casino Market Study, hotels at Foxwoods, MGM Grand at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun offer a consistently upscale experience and received higher satisfaction than casinos in Mississippi, Atlantic City, N.J. and Nevada.

“The results of the survey don’t really surprise me. Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are both positioned as upscale properties in the national gaming market,” said Clyde Barrow, director of the Center for Policy Analysis for UMass-Dartmouth. “Importantly, the survey results suggest that as the economy begins to improve next year, gaming revenues should also start to recover, because casino customers are fundamentally satisfied with the products and services offered by Connecticut’s casinos.”

Foxwoods and Mohegan topped the study even as casinos are struggling. Of upscale casinos surveyed, Mohegan Sun ranked second in overall customer satisfaction, behind Wynn Las Vegas.

Nationwide, casino revenue slipped 7 percent in 2009, with Atlantic City and Las Vegas markets experiencing even bigger declines. Customer satisfaction with casinos across the country also is down in 2009 by 75 percent because of broad cuts in staff and service.

Yet, based on the study, Connecticut’s casinos still are leaving customers satisfied.

“We faced the economic downturn focused on maintaining service levels,” said Mitchell Etess, CEO of Mohegan Sun. “That meant not laying people off, because we needed a full complement of staff for guests.”

The Market Metrix Casino Market Study rated customer satisfaction with the casino experience based on five key measures: ambiance, friendliness of staff; helpfulness of staff, variety of gaming options and value of casino promotions.

The study found casino ambiance is critical to customer satisfaction. Casinos with the highest ambiance scores also reported higher scores in the measure of feeling “excited” and “elegant.” Service scores were also higher at these properties, especially the measures of friendliness and helpfulness of casino staff.

Others findings included:

n Customers think they are getting a better value now.

n The casino customer profile is wealthier, older.

n Planned trips and nights per year are not down — spending is.

n Customers are more price sensitive and switch more easily based on price.
n More people are reading reviews before booking casino accommodations.
n Loyalty programs are more important in casino selection.

n Employee ‘can-do attitude’ is down, a key driver of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

“What we are seeing in the entire industry, is we still have a large number of people visiting the casino, but a significant reduction in spending,” Etess said.

Value is key in this environment.

“No doubt as revenues are harder to come by, every gaming is more competitive. The result is more incentives and more bargains,” he said.

In the past, consumers would look at reviews for hotels before making a selection, but rarely for casino hotels, said study co-author Jonathan Barsky, co-founder of the San Rafael, Calif.-based Market Metrix said. “That’s changed now.”

But demand from younger patrons is shrinking faster than the overall averages, Barsky said. The average casino guest is 53; in 2008 it was 51.

Etess said that finding isn’t surprising. The baby boomer bubble is getting older, he said.
“We have a nightclub as part of our appeal to a younger audience. Everybody is looking to create amenities to add more people. They’re the meat of our customers. They have more disposable income,” he said.

New customer demographics and behaviors require new strategies, Barsky said. While dropping rates will attract people to take advantage of deals, understanding consumer behavior and offering guests what they want, while attracting the right customer mix, will be imperative, he said.


Report: Bay State will affect NH gaming potential
December 9, 8:06 AM Manchester Democrat Examiner Paul Briand

Casinos in Massachusetts could have a bearing on how well casinos in New Hampshire do. photoYesterday we took a look at some of the issues facing New Hampshire as a study commission weighs the expansion of gambling in the state.

Today, we'll look at a study presented to the commission that says what happens in Massachusetts with regard to gambling will affect what happens here in the Granite State.

The New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies gave a presentation at the study commission's meeting on Dec. 1 that looked at the potential competition for gambling customers if, in addition to the existing casinos in Connecticut, casinos were added to Massachusetts and to New Hampshire.

It will make a big difference to casinos in New Hampshire if Massachusetts doesn't have casinos.

According to the center's data presented in a PowerPoint slideshow:

17.3 percent of Granite Staters gambled at a casino within the last year;
Women favored slots, while men mostly played the table games;
Just about 2 million Massachusetts residents visited Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun in Connecticut; About 200,000 New Hampshire residents visited the Connecticut casinos;
In 2008, New Hampshire residents spent $261 million on the state's Lottery, $225 million on racing, $128 million on charitable gambling, and about $80 million at casinos in the northeast.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Pa. lawmakers: state should yank Foxwoods license
The Associated Press
Posted Dec 03, 2009 @ 02:32 PM

Philadelphia, Pa. — Four Pennsylvania lawmakers are calling on state gaming regulators to revoke Foxwoods' license to build a slots parlor in Philadelphia.

Two Democratic and two Republican legislators say time has run out for the troubled project.

Foxwoods told the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board it could not meet a Tuesday deadline to submit architectural and artist renderings of its planned casino.

The lawmakers say Foxwoods has gotten preferential treatment. They say it's time for the state to award the license to someone else.

Of 11 major slots licensees, Foxwoods is the only one not open or under construction.


Information from: The Philadelphia Inquirer,

Friday, December 4, 2009


Mohegans seek partner to finish hotel tower
By Patricia Daddona

The Day

Published 12/04/2009 12:00

The Mohegan tribe is looking for a partner to help it finish the Project Horizon luxury hotel at Mohegan Sun.

The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority said Thursday it is seeking partners for a couple of key projects besides the suspended Project Horizon, including a $500 million casino in Palmer, Mass., and a hotel at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania.

Partnering for future growth is part of an effort to incur less debt, Mitchell Etess, the president and chief executive officer for the casino, said Thursday following a Webcast presentation at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2009 Credit Conference in New York City for people in the financial and investment industry.

Demand is high for more hotel rooms to complement Mohegan Sun's existing hotel, but the economy is not out of the woods yet and it's not clear when the expansion, which was halted in the fall of 2008, could resume, said Etess, who represented the gaming authority at the conference.

Adding a hotel partner, possibly one with a brand name, is being pursued aggressively, he said.

"The most important thing right now is to improve our balance sheet," he said, "and the lopping on of additional debt for our hotel tower wouldn't necessarily be the first thing we would do. However, if someone else could build that tower, and we could get additional rooms, that would generate significant additional cash flow, which would allow us to improve our financial position."

Tribal Chairwoman Lynn Malerba confirmed that intent later in the day.

"We are committed to reduce our overall debt, and one way to do that is to enhance the overall property and revenues without putting a lot of our own capital in," she said.

The Mohegans are also keeping track of the possible legalization of casinos in Massachusetts, where Etess said they hope to find a partner to help develop a resort-style casino smaller than Mohegan Sun but larger than the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania. He said a casino there could include 3,000 slot machines, 100 table games, a hotel, retail operations and branded restaurants.

Project Horizon started out in 2007 as a $740 million project that escalated to $925 million. The "Earth Hotel Tower," a 39-story edifice intended to be the tallest building in Connecticut, was the centerpiece.

Etess said that partnering on the hotel tower doesn't signal any change in direction for the proposed expansion, which would add 920 rooms and include a House of Blues music hall. The featured restaurant, Margaritaville, and new gaming hall called Casino of the Wind, have already opened.

"Exactly how that tower turns out will depend very much on who we end up partnering with," Etess said.

Branding a hotel at the tribal gaming property is risky, said Jane Pedreira, a gaming analyst with Rye, N.Y.,-based Clear Sights Research.

"I would be somewhat skeptical of that working, unless they were going to run it as a convention business where people actually go there not to gamble," she said. "I don't know what percentage of their rooms are cash versus (complimentary), but the industry standard is to 'comp' your big gaming guests."

At the conference, Etess and Peter J. Roberti, the casino's vice president of finance, reviewed this year's casino operating results and acknowledged that while there's no sign the declining trend for gaming revenue has reversed course, the casino balance sheet is strong. Net revenues were down 12 percent year over year and overall revenues are down 7.5 percent, they said.

"We're hoping we will flatten out this next year," Etess said. "We think one day the economy will get better and people will start spending again."

In the meantime, Roberti said, a "disciplined approach" to capital spending and reducing full-time positions through attrition rather than layoffs have helped contain costs. Malerba later noted that reductions to tribal government costs, although not to individual stipends, have helped curb expenses.

Etess called that a "prudent" way of managing distributions.

He sought to differentiate Mohegan Sun from Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods, which are owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation on the reservation in nearby Ledyard.

"We've been very cautious, especially lately, to make sure everybody realizes we're not Foxwoods," Etess said. "We operate completely differently than Foxwoods in every aspect of operations, and we also have better market share."

For the 12 months ending Sept. 30, Mohegan Sun operated with an average daily slot win per machine of $316, versus $240 at Foxwoods, Roberti said.

The Mashantuckets are struggling to restructure a debt load of more than $2 billion and could default on loans. Tribal members recently ousted Chairman Michael Thomas, whose promise to keep tribal stipends intact before lenders were paid sent shockwaves through the global financial community.

Pedreira, who listened later in the day to a recording of the conference call, said the Mohegans and their casino managers "have got the gaming industry down to a science."

"I definitely feel they're great operators," she said. "They have great upside in Pennsylvania. They've done a great job of trying to diversify, probably better than any other Indian tribe. What impresses me about them is they're so progressive, they're ahead of the curve - running the property, getting out ahead of Massachusetts

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Mass. town may seek to improve casino deal
Wampanoag tribe in talks to add Foxwoods investor.

GateHouse News Service
Posted Nov 30, 2009 @ 11:24 PM


Middleboro, Mass. — .With possible new investors on the horizon for the tribal casino planned in town, at least one public official thinks it’s time to revisit the original terms of the deal hammered out more than two years ago.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribal council announced Sunday it is working with a new partner, Arkana Limited, a wholly owned affiliate of the Kien Huat affiliates in Malaysia, collectively known as Genting. The investment company is owned by a Lim family trust, which has cash reserves of more than $3 billion. Among many financial interests, the company financed the 1992 startup of Foxwoods Resort Casino.

Kien Huat also has invested in countries around the world involved in gaming, cruise, power generation, plantations, property development, biotechnology and oil and gas.

Ex-Mohegan Sun backers

In July 2007, selectmen signed an agreement with the tribe to host a casino on more than 500 acres controlled by then-investors, the South African casino tycoon Sol Kerzner and Waterford, Conn., developer Len Wolman. Kerzner and Wolman were partners in the development of Mohegan Sun. In exchange for support, the town would get $7 million annually and a tax on the hotel rooms.

But Selectman Stephen McKinnon, a former Finance Committee member, said the contract “missed a few things” — such as the impact to schools, and adjustments for inflation. Since July 2007 the consumer price index has risen more than 5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I’m only one, but yes, it’s an opportune time to reopen the negotiations,” said Selectman Stephen McKinnon. “Will the rest of the board agree? I don’t know.”

Asian gambling giant

According to a tribal press release, the new investor is the largest casino operator in Asia, and has also bankrolled casino resorts in Australia, the Americas, the United Kingdom, the Philippines and Singapore.

The deal comes amidst a drawn-out dispute between the tribal council and TCAM, a consortium headed up by Kerzner and Wolman, who are no longer involved in Mohegan Sun.

Last month, Wampanoag Tribal Council Chairman Cedric Cromwell told the town’s Resort Advisory Committee that TCAM had stopped funding the tribe.

He expected to resolve the dispute within weeks, and said the tribe would move forward on the casino.

“Kien Huat and its affiliates bring the business experience and financial strength that the tribe needs to move forward aggressively with our plans for a resort-style gaming facility,” Cromwell said in a prepared statement.

In addition to disputes with the former investors, the tribe has run into trouble in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that halted the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ longtime practice of taking land into trust for the tribes.

Trust process stalled

The tribe applied to the BIA to take the Middleboro land into trust in 1997, but the process appears to be stalled.

Stephen Bingham, a tribal member, said he isn’t satisfied with the deal, and believes the tribal council should have put the project out to bid before choosing investors.

He questions whether TCAM would still be involved, saying the new investors have had several business relationships with the previous investors.

Bingham said the new investor, Lim Kok Thay, was present at a tribal meeting on Sunday in Mashpee and told members once the deal with TCAM was complete it would take two months to build a casino.

Bingham questioned how that would be possible before the land has been taken into trust.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Mohegan Medicine Woman wins $10,000 essay contest
By Gale Courey Toensing

Story Published: Nov 29, 2009

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The Mohegan Tribe’s Medicine Woman won $10,000 in an essay contest in which American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians were invited to share their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities in the current economic and political landscape.

Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel won a top national award for “The Accomac Business Model.” The contest, called “Native Insight: Thoughts on Recession, Recovery & Opportunity,” was sponsored by the Alaska Federation of Natives, in partnership with the National Congress of American Indians and the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. The contest was launched in June and winners were announced at the end of October.

“The Accomac Business Model” argues for a Native values approach to doing business in the 21st century.

The world is catching up with indigenous values regarding respect for women and Mother Earth, Tantaquidgeon Zobel says, but when it comes to business “we have always been hesitant to assert our Native values. Deep down inside, we still assume that business is not our area of expertise. That is a mistake. Nowadays, the light of world opinion shines brightly on corporate greed, making this the perfect time to promote an alternative, Native, business paradigm.”

Tantaquidgeon Zobel said American Indians have learned to adapt over the centuries to conditions that changed their traditional way of life. From hunting, fishing and planting to feed their families, Native peoples became skilled at trades and now are lawyers, teachers, nurses, CEOs and other professionals. But they never abandoned their traditional ways; they just kept adding new ones.

“That’s the strength of Native societies. We do not sacrifice the old for the new.”

This broader view of things is called the Accomac perspective. Accomac in Mohegan means “the long view from across the water.”

The Mohegan Tribe began to create an Accomac Model of Business with a training program called “The Spirit of Aquai,” in which employees at the Mohegan Sun resort casino – one of the largest and most successful casinos in the country – are presented with traditional values of tribal conduct, such as respect for all people.

A good example of respect for all people is found in the tribal leaders’ approach to the various languages found at the casino.

“Many languages are spoken at our business and our chairman leads by example, attempting to address many different language speakers in their native tongue. As a typical Native community whose language was long forbidden in our local schools, we understand the importance of respecting people’s native tongues,” Tantaquidgeon Zobel said.

The Accomac Business Model – the broad view – also addresses how tribal communities spend money. Funds are primarily allocated to benefit the group, not the individual, and are usually expended both to preserve the past and move the next generation forward, Tantaquidgeon said.

“We consider not only where we come from, but where we are going many generations from now,” she said.

For example, some of the first revenues from the Mohegan Sun were used to preserve and reclaim sacred sites, provide elders’ housing, health care and college tuition.

But sometimes the supporters of culture and business interests clash, not because the two sides have different goals, but because many Natives equate good business with the values of the non-Indian world.

“That means that many traditionally-minded folks feel compelled to oppose tribal business development, because they sense that it is eroding tribal culture,” she said.

But global values are changing and catching up to indigenous values, so there is no need for tribal communities to follow non-tribal business models.

“Now is a good time to consider something better. Only when we Natives conduct our businesses according to our own values will we truly flourish over the long term,” Tantaquidgeon Zobel said.

She was named the Mohegan Tribe’s Medicine Woman in the summer of 2008. She is the grand-niece of the iconic Gladys Tantaquidgeon, the tribe’s former medicine woman, revered elder and culture keeper, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2005.

Tantaquidgeon Zobel is also the tribal historian and a writer of non-fiction and fiction. She is the author of “Medicine Trail: The Life and Lessons of Gladys Tantaquidgeon” and “Oracles,” a novel.

She said she was very pleased to learn that she had won the essay contest and welcomed the $10,000 prize.

“As a writer, you don’t usually make much money. And I have five kids so there’s always a need,” she said.

Other national winners were Samantha Johnson, Sault Sainte Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, for “Native Americans & Small Business Ventures: Bright Hope for Economic Recovery” and Jacquelyn Dyer, Hopi, for “Plan for a New Native American Century.”

Three Alaska Native winners were Harold Frank Jr., Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribe of Alaska, for “Renewing Our Future,” Methanie Ongtooguk, Kotzebue/Fairbanks, for “America and the Whale: Strengthened Economy through Smaller Community,” and Charles W. Ralston, for “Alaska Native Corporations Can Provide International Benefits Through Marketing Carbon Offset.”


Maisie Shenandoah, Oneida clan mother, dies at 77
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Filed Under: National

Maisie Shenandoah, a clan mother of the Oneida Nation of New York, died early this morning. She was 77.

As a woman of power in a matriarchal society, Shenandoah helped revitalize the tribe, whose lands were lost to theft by the state of New York. The tribe has been able to repurchase about 17,000 acres within its ancestral reservation.

Shenandoah, who was a member of the Wolf Clan, appointed her nephew, Ray Halbritter, as the tribe's chief representative. Halbritter oversaw the establishment and growth of the tribe's gaming and business empire but the two later fell into a dispute over traditional values and the direction of the tribe.

Shenandoah helped build a longhouse on the reservation, her daughter, the singer Joanne Shenandoah, said. Maisie Shenandoah's funeral service will take place at the longhouse.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Our prayers and condolences go out to the Oneida Nation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Editorial: Wampanoags helped the Pilgrims survive
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Filed Under: Opinion

"The American Indians originally celebrated what has become Thanksgiving as a harvest festival long before Europe’s emigrants first landed upon the shores of North America.

When the Pilgrims of the Mayflower landed in December 1620 near Pahtuksut, now current day Plymouth, Mass., these European immigrants were ill-prepared for the reality of New World. Many of these Pilgrim immigrants did not survive this first winter.

The Wampanoag Indians of eastern Massachusetts played a role in helping and teaching the Pilgrims how to survive in this new land. The Wampanoag taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land. In the fall of 1621, the Pilgrims along with about 90 Wampanoag Indians, including their chief, Massasoit, celebrated the fall harvest. This three-day celebration was the first Thanksgiving.

The Wampanoag Indians were nearly exterminated during King Phillips War in the late 1670s, and the survivors killed, sold into slavery or escaped to other tribes. Yet the tribe endured and re-organized as the Wampanoag Nation in 1928, with nearly 3,000 members today.

Today, some American Indians consider Thanksgiving a day of mourning for their culture and people."

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE; Give a helping hand and then be exterminated. Hello? Are these the facts? Should Native Americans (First People) celebrate Thanksgiving? What do you think?