Saturday, May 21, 2011


Conn. casinos report mixed April revenue results
HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut's Mohegan Sun casino has reported a 3 percent decline in slot revenue in April while the Foxwoods Resort Casino and MGM Grand at Foxwoods says its revenue jumped 9 percent.

The Mohegan Sun said Monday its revenue was $61.6 million, down from $63.7 million in April 2010. Its decline was steeper than in March, but improved from January and late 2010 as the weak economy cut into consumer spending.

Foxwoods reported revenue for the month of $57.1 million, up from $52.3 million from last year. The increase represented a strong turnaround from March when revenue barely rose.

Analysts say the two eastern Connecticut casinos face pressure on several fronts: high gas prices that keep motorists home, the weak economy and rising competition from casinos in Pennsylvania and New York.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Tribe mulling plans for Aqueduct racino rival
By Howard KoplowitzThursday, May 19, 2011 11:11 AM EDT

If a casino is built at Belmont Park, it could undermine the operations of the upcoming Aqueduct racino project.

The Shinnecock Nation said it has received an offer to build a casino at Belmont Race Track in Nassau, which could put a dent into profits for the Aqueduct racino in Queens that is slated to open in late summer.

Beverly Jensen, a spokeswoman for the Southampton, L.I.-based tribe, said the Shinnecocks have not made a final decision on where to build a casino.

The tribe gained federal recognition early last year, which makes it eligible to run a casino.

“We have not decided where to put a casino,” Jensen said, rejecting rumors that the Shinnecock were set on building a casino at Belmont in Elmont, L.I., on the other side of the border from Queens.

“We haven’t selected a site yet. It’s been offered to us and we’ve looked at it and we’re making a decision.”

If the Shinnecocks were to build a casino at Belmont, which is only 10 1/2 miles away from Aqueduct, it would surely take business away from Genting New York, the developer of the racino at the South Ozone Park track.

While the Shinnecocks are undecided as to where to construct a casino, the tribe has ruled out building one near its reservation in Southampton because it believes the reservation is too small for a gaming parlor.

A Genting spokesman said the company had no comment.A Belmont casino may be more attractive to southeast Queens residents since the Elmont line has a Long Island Rail Road stop that easily connects it to the Jamaica LIRR station.

The racino at Aqueduct, called Resorts World New York, is expected to be up and running with 1,600 of 4,500 video lottery terminals by late summer.In the early stages of awarding the VLT contract, the Shinnecock proposed their own plans for a casino at Aqueduct, but the project did not have the blessings of the area’s elected officials.

State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach) said the Shinnecock plan was “too ambitious” because it called for table games such as blackjack and roulette.

But the Aqueduct project can only legally have VLTs — a form of slot machines — and not table games.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4573.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: It may take up to five years for the Shinnecocks to get a casino up and running. How will that affect gaming at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut? What is the MTGA doing to keep it's share of gambling business in the area? How much will this cost the casino in business, in the future? What do you think?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Mashantucket Tribe to negotiate with labor union at casinoTuesday, May 17, 2011

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut said it will negotiate with a union after casino bartenders, drink servers, and bar porters voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371.

The employees at Foxwoods Resort Casino voted 133 to 90 to organize with the union. The elected was conducted under tribal law.

"As a result of this process, it will not be necessary for Foxwoods or the union to take any further action with respect to the disputed election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board," the tribe said in a statement, The New London Day reported. "The parties anticipate beginning negotiations under tribal law for a collective bargaining agreement in the coming weeks."

The tribe had planned to take the National Labor Relations Board to court over a prior election. The tribe says the board lacks jurisdiction on the reservation.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Story taken from Could this happen to the Mohegan Sun? What do you think?

Friday, May 13, 2011


Mashantucket casino bartenders to vote in another electionThursday, May 12, 2011

Bartenders, drink servers, and bar porters at the casino owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut will vote in a union election on Monday.

The employees voted to organize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 371 last year. But this election will occur under tribal law.

“The tribe has pledged to and has stated that they will continue to challenge the jurisdiction of the NLRB,” the union said in a press release, The Norwich Bulletin reported. “A court battle over this issue would continue for several years.”

The tribe says the National Labor Relations Board can't enforce federal labor law on its reservation.

Get the Story:Foxwoods bartenders' tribal law union election slated for Monday (The Norwich Bulletin 5/12)Foxwoods bartenders face another union vote (The New London Day 5/12)

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Could this happen to the Mohegan Sun? Are employees of the Mohegan Sun Happy? What do you think?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


New York judge bars tobacco tax on sales to Seneca NationTuesday, May 10, 2011Filed Under: Business Law A judge in New York barred the state from imposing its tobacco tax on sales to the Seneca Nation, a day after a federal appeals court said the plan was legal.

The judge's order will stay in place until June 1, The Buffalo News reported. The injunction only affects wholesalers who do business with the Senecas.

The ruling came after Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said the state would collect the tax. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday said the state's effort doesn't infringe on tribal sovereignty.

"We will continue fighting against this overreaching action by the State to protect our treaty rights, tobacco commerce and all the jobs it supports," Seneca President Robert Odawi Porter. said in a statement.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Story taken from


Conn.'s Mohegan Sun downgraded on debt concernsAssociated Press, 05.09.11, 05:26 PM EDT

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the ratings of the Connecticut-based Mohegan tribal casino operator on debt concerns at a time of slumping consumer spending.

The New York-based ratings agency said Monday the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority has not refinanced a $675 million line of credit set to expire in March 2012 and separate debt of $250 million coming due the following month. It also cited weak consumer demand for gambling in the Northeast and the possibility of increased competition if casino gambling is legalized in Massachusetts.

Moody's ( MCO - news - people ) downgraded the corporate family rating and probability of default rating to Caa3 from Caa2. Moody's also downgraded all long-term debt ratings to a "negative" outlook.

The authority operates the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut and Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania.

A spokeswoman for Connecticut's Mohegan Sun did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Moody's lowers debt rating of Mohegan Tribal authority
By Brian Hallenbeck
Publication: The Day
Published 05/10/2011 12:00 AM

Moody's Investors Service further lowered its ratings on the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority's debt Monday, citing its concern that the authority has yet to refinance a $675 million line of credit, or "revolver," and $250 million in bonds, both of which come due next year.

The agency dropped its "corporate family" and probability-of-default ratings from "Caa2" to "Caa3," meaning it considers the authority at substantial risk of default. Moody's downgraded all of the authority's long-term debt, assigning it a "negative" outlook.

Authority executives could not be reached for comment late Monday afternoon.
During a conference call with investors last week, Mitchell Etess, the authority's chief executive officer, declined to discuss the status of the authority's attempts to refinance its debt except to say it was still working with advisers.

Moody's, in a statement issued Monday, noted the $675 million revolver - of which $493 million had been drawn as of March 31 - is due in March 2012 and that $250 million in senior subordinated notes obtained at 8 percent interest mature in April 2012. Moody's warned it would consider the debts due if the MTGA was unable to refinance them a year in advance.

"Both of these debt obligations are considered to be current," Moody's said Monday.

The MTGA has total debt of about $1.6 billion.

The "Caa3" rating also reflects MTGA's "significant leverage" - its debt is nearly seven times its EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) - "continuation of weak consumer gaming demand trends in the Northeastern U.S., and the possibility of gaming in Massachusetts," the agency said.

In announcing a previous downgrade last December, Moody's raised doubts about whether the MTGA could avoid a restructuring of its near-term debt as opposed to a refinancing. A restructuring often involves creditors receiving less money than they are owed, while a refinancing involves the negotiation of better loan terms, including extended maturities.

The MTGA operates the Mohegan Tribe's Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, a racetrack casino in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Last week, it announced it would partner with a developer to operate the proposed Concord Resort racetrack casino in Thompson, N.Y. The authority has also said it will seek a license to operate a casino in Palmer, Mass., should Massachusetts legalize casino gambling.

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: With this much debt, how is the MTGA ever going to get the funds to do deals in Palmer or the Catskills?


Friday, May 6, 2011


Mohegan Tribe partnering on Catskills project
By Brian Hallenbeck
Publication: The Day
Published 05/06/2011 12:00 AM

$600 million venture with N.Y. developer includes casino, hotel

Growing up at Grossinger's, the family hotel in Liberty, N.Y., Mitchell Grossinger Etess, the chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, would occasionally play the Concord Hotel golf course in nearby Kiamesha Lake, some 15 miles away. He'd also frequent the movies and a hamburger joint just down the road.

The two hotels - The G and The Concord - were then the pillars of the Catskills' Borscht Belt, rivals on the order of Macy's and Gimbels. Louis Cappelli, the real estate developer who has owned the properties for more than a decade, first unveiled plans to rebuild The Concord in 2000.

On Thursday, the MTGA and Cappelli's Concord Associates announced they will partner on the development and operation of the Concord Resort on the former site of the hotel in Thompson, N.Y. Plans for the project's $600 million first phase, scheduled to open in the spring of 2013, call for a 75,000-square-foot casino featuring 2,100 video lottery terminals and room for up to 450 electronic table games, a 258-room hotel, a harness racing facility with a grandstand, a five-eighths-of-a-mile track and related paddock facilities, a simulcast facility for parimutuel wagering, 10,000 square feet of meeting rooms and ballrooms, five restaurants, retail outlets and several entertainment spaces.

"It is a little ironic," Etess said of the property's proximity to the hotel Jennie Grossinger, his grandmother, made famous. "It's an interesting twist. What's more important is that I believe in the Catskills and what the region can do. It's a beautiful place."

Under the agreement, the proposed hotel would be called the Mohegan Sun Concord, Etess said. It would be managed by Mohegan Gaming Associates, the gaming authority's casino-management arm, whose formation the authority announced late last year. At that time, Etess, then president and CEO of the authority's flagship, Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, relinquished his casino post to concentrate on other business ventures on behalf of the Mohegan Tribe. Jeffrey Hartmann took over as the casino's top executive. Gary Van Hettinga, former Mohegan Sun CFO, became president of the new unit.

With Thursday's announcement, the reorganization has borne fruit, Etess said.
"Now when we get an opportunity like this, we can do it," he said. "We have programs, policies and a methodology," as well as experience operating a harness racing track at the authority's Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Etess said Concord Associates approached the authority about partnering earlier this year. He said Cappelli was interested in reactivating his Concord project, which has been stalled since 2008. Cappelli, a director of Empire Resorts, which owns Monticello (N.Y.) Casino and Raceway, had planned to relocate the Monticello facility to the former Concord Hotel site. After razing the hotel and completing some preliminary work, construction was halted amid financial difficulties.

Marnell Architecture, a leading casino and resort design firm, has planned the full development of the site, according to the joint statement issued by Concord Associates and the MTGA.

Concord Kiamesha Holdings LLC, the joint entity formed for the project, has engaged Jefferies & Co. Inc., a global investment banking firm, as financial adviser. More than $100 million has already been spent on site preparation, foundations, curtain wall, demolition and remediation of environmental issues, the parties said.

"The project is more than shovel ready," Etess said. "Once the financing is in place, we can get a quick start, by the end of June."
Etess said the Mohegan Tribe would be "a small, minority equity partner" in the project.

The Concord Resort is expected to provide billions of dollars in economic benefits to the Catskills over a 10-year period and serve as a catalyst for the creation of more than 1,000 new construction and permanent jobs with a majority of the employment benefiting New York's Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties, the parties said.

The MTGA is also prepared to partner on a resort casino project in western Massachusetts if and when that state legalizes casinos.
"Obviously, part of the strategy of the (Mohegan) tribe is to be in their feeder markets," Roger Gros, publisher of Global Gaming Business magazine, said. "This is the same as the Palmer (Mass.) project. They don't want to have major casinos around them taking their players. It's very forward-thinking."

Gros, however, noted that previous casino projects proposed for the Catskills have failed to materialize, most recently one that surfaced last year involving the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe of Wisconsin, whose partners included Len Wolman of Waterford, the hotelier whose Trading Cove Associates helped develop Mohegan Sun.

"It's a long way from being done," Gros said of the Concord Resort project. "Frankly, it's hard to believe it ever will be."

EDITORIAL FOOTNOTE: Where is the MTGA going to get the funds to do this deal?

Is this expansion or diversification?

What about the hole in the ground, the Earth Hotel at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, that was never completed?

What about the Mohegan Government and Community Building, that will only be half occupied when completed in August, 2011, because of alleged lack of funds?

What about the bad deal at Pocono Downs?


Thursday, May 5, 2011


Mohegans to mark 15-year relationship with the state
Associated Press
Published 05/05/2011 12:00 AM

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Leaders of the Mohegan Tribal Government are celebrating their 15-year relationship with the state of Connecticut.

Tribal Chairman Bruce "Two Dogs" Bozsum and the Mohegan Tribal Council are hosting a reception at the state Capitol on Thursday to mark the southeastern Connecticut tribe's lengthy partnership with the state. Legislators from the region and members of the 1996 Tribal Council that oversaw construction and opening of the Mohegan Sun casino are also expected to attend.
Connecticut currently receives a portion of the slot machine revenues at the tribe's Mohegan Sun casino.

In return, the Mohegans and the neighboring Mashantucket Pequots have exclusive rights to offer slot machines at their tribal casinos. Since the Mohegan Sun opened 15 years ago, the tribe says it has contributed more than $2.5 billion.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Cappelli enlists casino giant to revive Concord
Mohegan Sun will join casino-hotel, sources say
By Victor Whitman
Times Herald-Record
Published: 2:00 AM - 04/28/11

KIAMESHA LAKE — Concord owner Louis Cappelli has been negotiating with the casino company Mohegan Sun to revive his defunct luxury hotel and racino plan on the site of the one-time jewel of Catskill resorts.

Cappelli, whose plans for a $1 billion resort blew apart three years ago, is close to a deal, according to sources.

"I have a major partner, to be announced this week," Cappelli said on Wednesday.
He said he could not yet reveal his partner as he is bound by a confidentiality agreement.

The Mohegan Sun Tribal Authority owns two full-service casinos, Mohegan Sun in Connecticut — the second-largest casino in the United States — and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Pennsylvania.

The chief executive officer is Mitchell Grossinger Etess, a Sullivan County native and grandson of Jennie Grossinger, who helped turn a small hotel in Liberty into an internationally known resort. Ironically, if this deal does come to pass, Etess could play a role in reviving the Concord, once the chief rival hotel of his family's business during the county's resort heyday.

Calls to Mohegan Sun weren't immediately returned.

Cappelli razed the old hotel and did initial foundation work before abruptly stopping in late 2008 after he couldn't get financing. He lost most of the Concord lands in a court settlement with his former partner, Entertainment Properties Trust.

The former hotel site, which he still does own, is mired in debt.
More than two dozen contractors have liens claiming unpaid bills totaling around $25 million. One of these contractors, the engineering firm, Edwards & Zuck, filed a foreclosure action in state Supreme Court on April 6, claiming its been stiffed $1.6 million.

Cappelli contesting suits

Cappelli said he's confident this will be worked out.

"The lawsuit with E and Z will take years to resolve since we are contesting the basis of the suit," Cappelli said. "We will be amicably resolved with them long before that time. In fact we expect to be resolved with all lien holders within 60 days prior to recommencing construction. The financing markets are more favorable at this time to close project financing."

Edwards & Zuck's managing partner, Matthew Donolli, said Cappelli did call to say he was starting up again.

"We are extremely upset that Cappelli has gone forward with the project and left his professional service partners without payment," Donolli said. "We don't know how real the new project is. Enough is enough for us and we are foreclosing."