“These legislators have it right, and they are proposing what Connecticut should have done from day one: put in place a process that is fair, open, transparent, reliable, and competitive,” said MGM Resorts International spokesman Alan Feldman, as opposition to a Mohegan Sun/Foxwoods Resorts Casino satellite gambling house continues to mount. The lawmakers to whom Feldman was referring are Reps. Ezequiel Santiago (D), Christopher Rosario and Roland Lemar (D). They don’t all want the same thing. Santiago would like a dog track in Bridgeport reopened as a casino. Rosario doesn’t want the tribes controlling the selection process: “If it happens in north-central Connecticut, fine. If it happens in Norwalk, fine. We just want to be part of the conversation.” The most radical proposal is Lemar’s, which would open Connecticut to commercial gaming, taxed at 25% and ending the state’s stream of slot revenue from the two tribal powerhouses.
Concerned about the opacity of the casino-selection process to date, Rep. Michael DiMassa (D) proposes bringing all the interested parties together and having a healthy debate: “Let them all come to the table, and let them submit proposals. We can’t be restrictive. We have to look at all the options.” Then there’s over-our-dead-body coalition of the Connecticut Catholic Public Affairs Conference, the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ, the New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Farmington Valley American Muslim Center, along with the conservative Family Institute of Connecticut. Given the snail’s pace at which Mohegan/Foxwoods has been laboring, there’s been enough time for debate for the tide to turn in the opposition’s favor.
* Las Vegas Sands just made Sheldon Adelson a richer man — or is it the other way around? (Adelson, in essence, is Las Vegas Sands.) In its third-quarter filing the company reported profits of $607 million. Despite a 15% falloff in table game wagering, Sands’ Las Vegas properties were up $12 million from last year. Room rates were also stronger, thanks to robust convention business. In Macao, cash flow was down at three of the company’s megaresorts was down but Parisian brought in $344 million, so it was all good. Cash flow was also up at Marina Bay Sands, where room occupancy ran 97%, 8% over last year. Of the sale of Marina Bay Sands’ shopping mall, Adelson said the $3 billion-$3.5 billion would be rolled into Japanese development. He evidently is confident of getting two casinos in the Land of the Rising Sun, saying, “I’m optimistic, and people tell us we’re in the pole position in terms of getting the concessions.” That’s big talk when the number of concessions hasn’t even been decided yet.
* The Trump administration’s first decision on gaming may be to take a stand on a controversial tribal project in Elk Grove, California. The proposed Wilton Rancheria hasn’t been gazetted by the new government yet, there’s a lawsuit pending and Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior has yet to be confirmed. The Obama administration ruled that the Wilton Rancheria *could* buy the land but a local referendum might kibosh the use of the site for gaming purposes. Assuming that the Elk Grove projects surmounts that plethora of hurdles, the land-in-trust decision will be an early harbinger of Trump’s policy toward tribal gambling.
* Del Lago Resort & Casino will be the next one out of the chute in upstate New York. It will open on Feb. 1 with 1,950 slot machines, 84 table games and 12 poker tables. Close behind is Neil Bluhm‘s Rivers Casino & Resort, in Schenectady, offering 1,150 slot machines, 77 table games and a 15-table poker room, opening Feb. 8. Bringing up the rear is Montreign Resort Casino, slated for a 2018 debut.