This week, Inside Gaming looks at West Springfield’s vote on the Hard Rock proposal, a potential Catawba Indian project in North Carolina, and a change in management in the Philippines.
West Springfield Voters Reject Casino Proposal
On Tuesday, West Springfield voters rejected a proposal by Hard Rock International to build a resort casino in Western Massachusetts.
The vote was 55 percent to 45 percent against a host community agreement that would’ve forced Hard Rock to make minimum annual payments of $18 million to the city. The proposal was to build at the Eastern States Exposition.
There are now only two proposals on the table, one from MGM Resorts for Springfield and another from Mohegan Sun for Palmer, Mass. Springfield voters approved a host community agreement with MGM Resorts in July, and Palmer residents are schedules to vote on Nov. 5.
“Tonight the people of West Springfield, a great family community with rich values and strong traditions, have made a decision at the polls,” Hard Rock said in a statement. “While their decision means the Hard Rock New England project will not go forward in West Springfield, we respect their decision and thank them for welcoming us into their community for the past eight months.
Also on Tuesday, the proposed casino compact between Gov. Deval Patrick and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which stalled momentarily, got a push forward when the legislative panel approved the agreement.
The Springfield vote now clears the way for the state legislature to act on the compact, which would guarantee the state a share of 15 to 21 percent of gambling revenue if a tribal casino is built in Taunton.
“We believe this agreement will keep our world-class destination resoirt casino on track,” said tribal chairman Cedric Cromwell.
According to Cromwell, the state would receive more than $2 billion in revenue from the casino in 20 years.
In another vote on Tuesday, Plainville voters approved a slot parlor proposal for the state’s only harness racing track.
If there are any further developments regarding casino gambling going forward, Inside Gaming will have them for you.
Boston.com has more.
Catawba Indians Heading North
On Sunday, the Charlotte Observer reported that the Catawba Indian Nation is eying a casino project in North Carolina. For years, the tribe has pushed for a casino in neighboring South Carolina, but now they are heading north to try and build along an interstate highway in the First in Flight state.
The tribe has met opposition from North Carolina lawmakers, who plan to fight it, even though the Eastern Brand of Cherokee Indians have already built and operate Harrah’s Cherokee.
The main concern is that, unlike the Cherokees, the Catawbas are based outside of North Carolina. NC House Speaker Pro Tem Paul Stam (Rep.) believes this could set an unsustainable precedent for the state.
“Just think about it,” Stam said. “There are hundreds of tribes, and if any tribe in the nation could just buy 10 acres in North Carolina and put a casino on it, it could be casino nation.”
Stam is among more than 100 state House members who have recently signed a letter opposing any attempt by a tribe from outside North Carolina to build in the state.
Over the past 20 years, the Catawbas have unsuccessfully ventured into casino gambling. The tribe was omitted from the 1988 Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, and was forced to close a bingo hall in Rock Hill after competition from the state lottery overtook them.
The Catawbas have promised to share a sizable portion of the gambling revenue with state and local governments. The tribe suggests the casino could make up to $100 million for the state.
The aforementioned Harrah’s Cherokee employs 2,300 people and generates about $390 million a year for the local economy. Revenues generated by Indian gaming in the United States totaled $27.9 billion in 2012, according to the National Gaming Commission.
There are four requirements for operating a casino in North Carolina: the tribe must be federally recognized, have land in trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (the Catawbas’ land is in South Carolina), have a compact with the state, and finally, consent from the General Assembly.
Stam predicts that the last step won’t happen.
“Put that [the proposed casino] on I-85 near the South Carolina line (and it) would essentialy just open up half the state for continual gambling and all of the crime, debt, domestic violence and all of the negative effects of wide-open gambling,” Stam said.
For more, check out the Charlotte Observer.
Philippines Casino Removes Management
On Thursday, owners of the Solaire Resort & Casino in Entertainment City along Manila Bay announced that they terminated the services of a management team headed by former executives of Las Vegas Sands Corp.
The $1.2 billion hotel-casino complex told the country’s stock exchange that it terminated the services of Global Gaming Asset Management of Las Vegas due to a “material breach” of their agreement. GGAM is headed by former Sands President Bill Weidner.
In a statement, Bloomberry Resorts Corp. said, “GGAM has not spend any material time in attending to the management of Solaire and has failed to perform its obligations and deliverables under the MSA.”
A Los Angeles public relations firm representing Weidner and company issued their own statement, denying the allegations.
“Bloomberry Resorts Corporation’s assertions regarding GGAM’s performance of its obligations under the Management Services Agreement have no factual or legal validity,” the statement said. “Bloomberry has materially breached that agreement and GGAM is pursuing its rights under that contract in arbitration in Singapore.”
GGAM recently inked a deal to manage the Baha Mar Casino & Hotel, a $3.5 billion hotel-casino complex in the Bahamas scheduled to open in December of 2014.
Weidner, Brad Stone (GGAM’s president), and Garry Saunders (GGAM’s executive vice president) were involved in the opening and managing of The Venetian, Palazzo, and Venetian Macau, and the development of the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore while employed by the Las Vegas Sands.
The Las Vegas Review Journal has more.
Photo courtesy of MassLive.com