Inside Gaming: Massachusetts Welcomes Bids, the AGA Elects a New CEO, and More
In this week’s Inside Gaming, Massachusetts opens the southeastern region of the state to commercial bidders, the new CEO of the American Gaming Association talks online gambling, and the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland is fined $180,000.
Massachusetts Welcomes Commercial Bidders
In March, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Mashpee Wampanoag tribal chairman Cedric Cromwell signed a compact regarding a proposed casino in the southeastern region of the state. In 2011, Gov. Patrick signed a law permitting the state to license three “Las Vegas-style” casinos and a slots parlor. The law initially excluded commercial developers from constructing a casino in the southeastern region, allowing the Mashpee to build in Taunton.
Well, on Thursday, according to Boston.com, the state gambling commission voted unanimously to accept applications from commercial developers for casino licenses in the southeastern region. The Mashpee tribe called the decision “misguided,” though the application process doesn’t bar the tribe from continuing with its $500 million resort and casino.
Before building, however, the Mashpee tribe must have the selected land approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The five-member commission, which is overseeing the execution of the 2011 casino gambling law, said they had no other choice because of the difficulties facing the tribe. Stephen Crosby, the commission’s chair, stated prior to the vote that bidding was the best solution.
The Mashpee tribe insists that they are still on track to break ground within the next year
“If we proceed and the tribe succeeds on schedule, there is a substantial likelihood when we get there that we would go with the tribe,” said Crosby.
Fellow commissioner James McHugh added, “Doing a realistic bit of planning for what happens if the tribe is not successful is a reasonable thing to do.”
Cromwell warns that this decision could bring four casinos to the state, rather than the proposed three. He says the tribe will continue to pursue the Taunton proposal.
“At a time when we need to create thousands of jobs in every corner of the state and put people back to work, this is a major step backward,” Cromwell said in a statement.
If a privately developed casino is built in the southeastern region, the tribe will not be required to pay any revenue to the state.
KG Urban Enterprises a private company, has already expressed interest in building a casino in New Bedford. The company announced that they appreciate the commission’s decision.
New AGA CEO Talks Online Gaming
On Wednesday, the American Gaming Association nominated Geoff Freeman as the new president and CEO in Las Vegas. Freeman, formerly the COO of the U.S. Travel Association, will replace Frank Fahrenkopf in July.
One of Freeman’s priorities as the CEO of the AGA is to address online gaming.
“We’re going to have to determine if the industry can get on the same page,” he said.
Last year, Fahrenkopf called online gambling one of the biggest threats to the U.S. casino industry. In March, the AGA opposed PokerStars’ purchase of The Atlantic Club in Atlantic City, New Jersey, citing the online poker company’s “alleged use of deceit, trickery and other illegal tactics.”
The AGA also said PokerStars “operated as a criminal enterprise for many years” in the U.S.
On Wednesday, PokerNews confirmed that Caesars Interactive Entertainment Inc., which the AGA represents, is applying for an online gaming license in New Jersey.
Fahrenkopf will stay on as a consultant through at least the end of 2013.
Casinos are no longer just about gambling, Freeman says.
“Gaming is really taking on a broader image, and that’s the image of entertainment,” he said. “It includes restaurants, shows, hospitality, and lodging, and gaming.”
AGA board chairman and Bally Technologies Inc. chairman Richard Haddrill believes that the group will benefit from Freeman’s background in policy and extensive network of connections in Washington.
“[Freeman] has the skills to build coalitions and execute grass roots campaigns,” Haddrill said.
Freeman is a University of California, Berkley graduate, and has worked for the health insurance lobby. He will remain in Washington, but will spend time with casino executives.
“I’m going to be ears open to just about anything that anyone has to say,” Freeman said.
NJ.com has more.
Horseshoe Casino Cleveland Fined
On Wednesday, Ohio regulators announced that the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland was fined $180,000 for violating security and operating rules.
Offenses include use of unapproved dice, mishandling keys, failing to post a problem-gambling hotline on promotional posters, encouraging cocktail serves to enter a restricted area between table games, replacing chips with quarters, and improperly storing and shipping slot machines.
“The Casino Control Act exists to ensure the integrity of gaming in the State of Ohio,” Jo Ann Davidson, chairwoman of the Ohio Casino Control Commission said in a statement. “In the case of these sanctions, we as regulators found Horseshoe Casino Cleveland failed to adhere to Ohio law and their internal controls, not just once, but repeatedly. We expect strict adherence to the law from the casino properties because it’s what the people of Ohio expect.”
Rather than take the case to a hearing, the Horseshoe reached a settlement with the commission that includes the $180,000 fine and corrective measures. The commission approved the settlement on Wednesday.
This is the second fine levied against the Horseshoe since casino gambling began last May. The casino was fined $15,000 in January for using computer software without authorization from state regulators. The software was used by gamblers to download credits from their accounts for free play on slot machines.
Cleveland.com has more.
Photos courtesy of MassLive.com