Gambling on Casinos in New York

The timing is worthy of note. As trucks in Albany were unloading reams of documents describing 17 proposals for four new casinos in New York, Moody’s Investors Service was issuing its latest report on gambling — downgrading the national gambling business from “stable” to “negative.” In other words, just when New York is proposing to ramp up its gambling business, the financial community is souring on the idea that casinos are an easy answer to state and local financial problems.

There have been plenty of reasons lately to worry about the casino business. Despite millions in tax credits, another major casino in Atlantic City has filed for bankruptcy and Trump Plaza casino is threatening to shut down in September. A Mississippi casino closed its doors, and New York’s comptroller, Thomas DiNapoli, warned that the job and economic gains in communities where new casinos are built “may be offset by losses elsewhere.”

Such gloomy news has not stopped big money from flowing into the state from casino operators as payments to lobbyists and campaign contributions to candidates. The New York Public Interest Research Group reported last week that companies competing for contracts have already paid $6.7 million to industry lobbyists. Gambling executives have contributed $4.3 million to state and local politicians in the last two years.

Another problem is a loophole in New York’s lobbying law that allows gambling companies to avoid public disclosure of their lobbying activities in communities with fewer than 50,000 residents. Fifteen of the 16 municipalities proposed as sites for the casinos fall into this category, and it is a safe bet that none of them have been exposed to this kind of big-dollar courtship. Caesars Entertainment, for instance, wants to build an $880 million casino resort in the Orange County town of Woodbury, which has a population of about 10,000. Caesars’s spending on lobbyists can be off the radar.

A five-member state board appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is supposed to choose four sites and the companies that can build on them by this fall. This seems much too hurried. As Moody’s is warning, it is time to beware of all the promotional hoopla and realize that casino gambling does not always deliver on its promise.

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Atlantic City May Lose Another Casino

ATLANTIC CITY — Atlantic City’s crumbling casino market disintegrated even further on Saturday as the owners of the Trump Plaza casino said they expect to shut down in mid-September.

Trump Entertainment Resorts told The Associated Press that no final decision has been made on the Boardwalk casino. But the company said it expected the casino to close its doors on Sept. 16.

Notices warning employees of the expected closing will go out to the casino’s 1,000-plus employees on Monday.

If Trump Plaza closes, Atlantic City could lose a third of its casinos and a quarter of its casino work force in less than nine months. The Atlantic Club closed in January, the Showboat is closing next month and Revel might do likewise if a buyer cannot be found in bankruptcy court.

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Bob McDevitt, president of the local Unite-HERE union, Atlantic City’s main casino workers’ union, demanded state lawmakers help head off what he called a “pending catastrophe” that will affect the state’s tourism industry and tax collections.

Trump Entertainment Resorts said its managers and board of directors “have been reviewing alternatives for the property.”

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As Gold and Gambling Lose Their Luster, Deadwood Seeks a Spark

DEADWOOD, S.D. — This old Western town of gunfights and gambling is going through an identity crisis.

For more than a century, the promise of fortune has drawn outsiders to Deadwood, a gold rush settlement in the Black Hills of South Dakota. But where saloons and brothels once lined Main Street, storefronts today draw tourists with a different lure: blinking slot machines.

Few shopkeepers here dress in frontier attire anymore. Century-old bars have been replaced by spinning sevens and casino lights. Harley-Davidsons park where hitching posts once stood, the motorcycle engines clashing with street shows and family-friendly shootouts.

“It feels more modern, a little bit more Vegas style,” said Russell Lehmbeck, 43, a tourist from Wyoming who complained that Deadwood seemed confused about what it wanted to be. “It used to feel like I could get on a horse and ride down the road and no one would say a thing.”

Gambling brought Deadwood back to life a quarter-century ago, when South Dakota followed the leads of Nevada and New Jersey to become the third state to legalize gambling. In a city of 1,200 residents, taxes from three dozen casinos have funneled money into historic-building restorations, a new museum and municipal improvements.

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N.D.
50 MILES
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SOUTH DAKOTA
Deadwood
Pierre
Sturgis
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NATIONAL FOREST
WYO.
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But as gambling in other states grows, drawing the masses to this remote destination may soon depend on whether Deadwood can remake its brand. A “revitalization” committee is holding meetings this week to take stock of the city’s strengths — its casinos and concerts, its outlaw history and outdoor recreation — and somehow package them all into one cohesive and, they hope, more competitive image.

“What do they have in Deadwood that can’t be found closer to home?” asked Roger Brooks, a tourism consultant hired to help Deadwood with the identity adjustment. “Whatever we come up with, we have to deliver on that promise.”

Since the 1870s, Deadwood has been known as a place of lawlessness, debauchery and legend — home to Calamity Jane and resting place of Wild Bill Hickok, the gambling gunslinger who was killed at a poker table while holding two pair — aces and eights, which came to be known in the game’s parlance as a “dead man’s hand.”

About 50 miles north of Mount Rushmore, Deadwood has for decades lured families, bikers and other travelers off the highway to explore its downtown, which received a National Historic Landmark designation in 1961. Preservation concerns reached critical mass after a fire engulfed a historic building on the city’s main drag in 1987, leading to the formation of a “Deadwood You Bet” group that lobbied state lawmakers to approve gambling and create a new tax revenue stream.

Deadwood’s first casinos opened two years later, bringing in $145 million in bets to the Black Hills during the first eight months alone, according to the chamber of commerce. Kevin Costner, whose movie “Dances with Wolves” was filmed in South Dakota, opened his own casino and restaurant.

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So many out-of-towners flooded Deadwood in those early years that one casino had to empty its machines three times a day so they would have enough tokens, said Mary Larson, who ran Deadwood Dick’s, one of the city’s first gambling parlors.

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17 Companies File Casino Plans With New York State in Push for 4 Gambling Licenses

Seventeen companies on Monday unveiled lavish and increasingly expensive proposals for New York casino-resorts in communities from Albany to Tuxedo Park and Binghamton, officially starting the competition for four state-issued gambling licenses.

The contestants vying to build a Las Vegas-style casino range from virtual unknowns like Greenetrack, which operates a gambling hall and dog track in Alabama, to the more familiar: Hard Rock International, Caesars Entertainment, Penn National Gaming and Genting Group.

With promises of luxury hotels, conference centers, adventure parks and thousands of jobs, as well as slot machines and poker tables, several of the proposals in the region closest to New York City top $1 billion.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has sought to expand gambling with the hope of reviving upstate economies, creating new jobs and generating tax revenues.

It remains to be seen whether the casinos can deliver on all their promises. While the number of gambling operations has been swelling in New York, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, casino revenues are sliding in New Jersey and Connecticut.

But that has not kept developers and gambling operators from spending millions on proposals for New York, where there are already five Indian casinos and nine racetracks with electronic slot machines and table games.

The state plans to select the winners sometime in the fall for three separate regions: the capital region around Albany, the Catskill and Hudson Valley areas, and an area in the central part of the state that stretches from Binghamton north to Lake Ontario.

The heavily detailed applications were due on Monday, at the State Gaming Commission office in Schenectady.

Caesars Entertainment and David Flaum, a developer, loaded 20 copies of their application — 40 boxes weighing a total of 3,000 pounds, for an $880 million casino-resort in Woodbury, in Orange County — onto a truck that left New York City on Monday morning.

Just to be sure, Empire Resorts sent armed guards to escort a tractor-trailer loaded with its 280 cartons outlining their proposal at a site near Monticello on Sunday night. It also sent a backup truck in case anything went wrong. The driver waited for hours in the commission’s parking lot until the office opened at 8 a.m.

But Tom and Jim Wilmot, developers based in Rochester, were first, having delivered their applications for a $425 million casino-resort in the Finger Lakes region on Friday.

The sharpest competition is in the Catskill-Hudson Valley region close to New York City, where eight developer-operators are vying for what they hope will be two casino licenses.

Three contestants have spent years developing plans for a casino-resort in the Catskills. Empire Resorts and its partner, EPR Properties, have proposed a $1 billion project near Monticello that includes a casino, 1,100 hotel rooms, an 18-hole golf course, an indoor water park and an adventure village.

Next door, Louis Cappelli, a developer, and the Mohegan Tribal Authority are proposing a $550 million casino-resort, which, like Empire Resorts’s project, would lie on the grounds of the former Concord resort.

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In nearby Ellenville, in Ulster County, Claremont Partners is planning a $582 million resort, with nightclubs, restaurants and an 18-hole golf course, on the grounds of the former Nevele resort.

But these proposals have been overshadowed by the recent emergence of six rival proposals in Orange County, which is even closer to Manhattan and its rich storehouse of tourists.

Cordish Companies and Penn National Gaming are proposing a $750 million Live! Hotel and Casino in South Blooming Grove with all the usual features. The proposal includes what the proponents call an “Angel incubator,” a nonprofit organization designed to attract manufacturing, computer science and research businesses from out of state.

Genting, the giant Malaysian gambling and entertainment company, submitted two separate casino proposals for Tuxedo and Montgomery. Genting owns a slot parlor at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, and is related to Empire Resorts.

Saratoga Harness Racing and Rush Street Gaming proposed a $670 million project on 70 acres in Newburgh.

Greenetrack filed plans for Grand Hudson Casino and Resort on 140 acres next to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, in partnership with Full House Resorts.

There are five other developers seeking to build a casino resort in the capital region, including one by the Galesi Group and Rush Street Gaming on the Mohawk River in Schenectady and a $300 million casino proposal at Howe Caverns. Mr. Flaum and the Chickasaw tribe of Oklahoma submitted an application for a project in Rensselaer, while Saratoga Harness Racing and Churchill Downs Inc. proposed a casino resort in East Greenbush.

In the most sparsely populated region in central New York, there are three contestants.

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The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City may close its doors as soon as September.

ATLANTIC CITY — Over the Fourth of July weekend, this town was packed. Hotel occupancy soared to 95 percent, and shoppers coursed through the outlet stores opposite Trump Plaza. At Revel, the city’s newest casino resort, the lively, dressed-up crowd gazed out through the floor-to-ceiling glass to see the surfers riding the day’s last waves onto the wide beach.

But the booming weekend belied the wrenching problems plaguing this New Jersey resort. In the winter and even midweek in the summer, Atlantic City — battered by storms, declining property values and, increasingly, crushing competition from gambling operations in neighboring states — is relatively quiet.

Since January, four of the city’s 12 casinos announced plans to shut down if they failed to find buyers. In the latest blow, workers at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino received notices on Monday that the white-towered complex with the bright red letters was expected to lock its doors as soon as Sept. 16. The Atlantic Club is already closed, and Showboat and Revel would close in late summer. The four represent 25 percent of the city’s casino work force: more than 8,000 jobs that could be lost, according to union leaders.

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A lone bellman stood outside the Trump Plaza on Monday. In the winter months and even midweek in the summer the city is relatively quiet. Credit Matt Rainey for The New York Times
The remaking of Atlantic City’s defining industry is driving a furious effort to reimagine what this beach town can be now that casino gambling has a foothold in neighboring states, and may even be permitted in northern New Jersey. Gamblers who once crossed state lines to get to Atlantic City are now staying closer to home, playing at 20 casinos or slot parlors in Delaware, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. And more competition is coming.

Survival will depend on reinvention, again — a notion the mayor, Don Guardian, energetically embraces.

“Atlantic City is resilient,” Mr. Guardian said, his words accelerating with an infectious enthusiasm. Over 160 years, he added, “it’s gone from a health resort to the world’s playground with liquor during Prohibition, to a convention city and then a gambling monopoly, at least on the East Coast.”

“It’s time,” he continued, “to open another chapter.”

Mr. Guardian and Gov. Chris Christie have come up with a vision for Atlantic City as a convention mecca, a college campus, a tech center and, yes, a gambling destination, though a smaller one, with perhaps a half-dozen casinos. But the transition is not happening as fast as the wrenching resizing of the city’s gambling industry.

The mayor and the governor are embarking on a path forged by Las Vegas 15 years ago. Today, gambling accounts for only 30 percent to 35 percent of revenues at Las Vegas casinos. Entertainment, restaurants and retail make up the difference.

In Atlantic City, gambling still generates 71.5 percent of the revenues, down from almost 78 percent two years ago. Simply put, there are just too many slot machines, blackjack tables and poker rooms.

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Mayor Don Guardian of Atlantic City Credit Andrew Thayer/The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press
“It comes down to saturation,” Mr. Guardian said in an interview last week. “How many more casinos do you think you can build in the mid-Atlantic states?”

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The state, the city and the casinos count their victories in developing attractions — new restaurants with celebrity chefs, shops, nightclubs and beach concerts — for tourists who may never push a button on a slot machine or bet on the roulette wheel.

The city is now a stop on the ultramarathon circuit. Lady Gaga played a sold-out concert on the boardwalk in June. More than 130,000 visitors attended the World Championship of Sand Sculpting there last year.

And bulldozers and wrecking balls do not necessarily follow a casino closing.

The Claridge casino has been reborn as a stand-alone hotel, and its casino floor may soon be home to a children’s museum and banquet space. TJM Properties, which owns the Claridge, also bought the Atlantic Club, where there is talk of installing a Hollywood Hall of Fame and Latitude 360, an entertainment complex.

Non-gambling revenues in Atlantic City are up $162 million in the last two years.

Yet gambling revenues are falling nearly twice as fast, down about $2.8 billion since 2006.

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While Washington Talks About Jobs, Gaming Is Creating Them

Washington, DC – American Gaming Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman released the following statement after the Senate vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act:

“While Washington is talking about jobs, the gaming industry is creating them. News outlets across the country have reported on the hundreds of thousands of American jobs that pay well above the minimum wage and offer fulfilling careers in a range of professions that extend beyond the casino floor. Americans feel more favorably toward casino gaming than ever before, and they recognize that gaming creates jobs, boosts small businesses and positively affects local communities. We will continue to work with our partners in Congress and in cities and towns across the country to ensure that casinos can continue to strengthen communities.”

News Outlets Around The Country: Gaming Supports Thousands Of American Jobs

Associated Press: “Ohio gaming brings in $225 million in wages”

ABC Washington: “Maryland casinos employ 3,200 people, pay them $125 million”

NPR: “Casinos in Indiana employ more than 12,000”

Times-Picayune: “Louisiana casinos employed nearly 16,000 in 2013, ranks 4th for gaming employment in U.S.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Ohio’s casinos and racinos employed more than 7,000 in 2013, association says”

NBC Philadelphia: “Pennsylvania casinos have put people to work, creating thousands of jobs”

ABC Detroit: “Casino employees hitting the jackpot in the Motor City”

NBC Shreveport: “Louisiana Casinos employ nearly 16,000 people in 2013”

ABC 13 Toledo: “Ohio appears to be hitting the jackpot when it comes to casino jobs”

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Louisiana Casinos Employed Nearly 16,000 People, Paid Workers Nearly $600 Million in 2013

Washington, DC – Louisiana’s 19 commercial casinos employed 15,706 permanent workers and paid its employees $603 million in wages, benefits and tips, according to new jobs numbers for 2013 released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA). Louisiana ranks fourth nationwide for casino employment behind only Nevada, New Jersey and Mississippi, where casinos employed nearly 23,000 people last year.

“Casino gaming has created thousands of jobs in Louisiana that pay well above the minimum wage and offer fulfilling careers in a range of professions that extend beyond the casino floor,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “Americans feel more favorably toward casino gaming than ever before, and they recognize that gaming creates jobs, boosts small businesses and positively affects local communities. Yet policymakers must act to ensure that casinos can continue to strengthen communities as they face increased competition from neighboring states.”

In 2013, Louisiana casinos generated $587 million in tax revenue, which paid contributed to the state’s general fund, the city of New Orleans’ budget and the public retirement system.

Louisiana is home to 19 commercial casinos, including:

· Harrah’s New Orleans Casino;

· Horseshoe Casino & Hotel in Bossier City;

· Sam’s Town Hotel and Casino Shreveport;

· L’Auberge Casino Resort Lake Charles; and

· Treasure Chest Casino in Kenner.

Jobs in gaming include: accounting; hotel management; information systems; technology; software; food and beverage; retail; entertainment and more.

With gaming present in more markets today, consumers are no longer limited to a handful of options. Therefore, just as casinos are competing against each other, states are striving to implement the most favorable environment for gaming to thrive and benefit their communities. Gaming is viewed more favorably than ever, and it behooves lawmakers to adopt policies based on facts about gaming.

The AGA’s “Get to Know Gaming” campaign is helping to pave the way for more states to view casino operators as partners and adopt policies that reflect that mindset. The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum recognize that casino gaming creates jobs, strengthens local businesses and benefits communities.

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Mississippi Casinos Employed Nearly 23,000 People, Paid Workers $830 Million in 2013

Washington, DC – Mississippi’s 30 commercial casinos employed 22,770 permanent workers and paid its employees $831 million in wages, benefits and tips, according to new jobs numbers for 2013 released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA). Mississippi ranks third nationwide for casino employment behind only Nevada and New Jersey; Louisiana ranks fourth with nearly 16,000 casino employees. Despite two casinos closing in the state, the Biloxi market continues to remain strong and experience growth in the face of competition from surrounding states.

“While casino gaming in Mississippi has faced challenges as it adapts to increased competition, the industry continues to support thousands of jobs that pay well above the minimum wage and offer fulfilling careers in a range of professions that extend beyond the casino floor,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “Americans feel more favorably toward casino gaming than ever before, and they recognize that gaming creates jobs, boosts small businesses and positively affects local communities. We applaud Mississippi policymakers who are working with casinos in order to continue strengthening their communities as they face increased competition from neighboring states.”

Mississippi is home to 30 commercial casinos, including:

Beau Rivage Resort and Casino Biloxi;
Grand Biloxi Casino Hotel and Spa;
Casino Resort and Spa in Biloxi;
Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis; and
Isle of Capri Casino Hotel in Lula.
Jobs in gaming include: accounting; hotel management; information systems; technology; software; food and beverage; retail; entertainment and more.

In 2013, Mississippi casinos generated almost $258 million in tax revenue, which paid for housing, education, transportation, health care services, youth counseling programs and local public safety programs.

With gaming present in more markets today, consumers are no longer limited to a handful of options. Therefore, just as casinos are competing against each other, states are striving to implement the most favorable environment for gaming to thrive and benefit their communities. Gaming is viewed more favorably than ever, and it behooves lawmakers to adopt policies based on facts about gaming.

The AGA’s “Get to Know Gaming” campaign is helping to pave the way for more states to view casino operators as partners and adopt policies that reflect that mindset. The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum recognize that casino gaming creates jobs, strengthens local businesses and benefits communities.

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Iowa Casinos Employed 9,000 People, Paid Workers Nearly $335 Million in 2013

Washington, DC – Iowa’s 18 commercial casinos employed 9,062 permanent workers and paid its employees nearly $335 million in wages, benefits and tips, according to new jobs numbers for 2013 released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA). Iowa ranks ninth nationwide for casino employment, while Missouri ranks seventh with more than 10,000 casino employees.

“Casino gaming has created thousands of jobs in Iowa that pay well above the minimum wage and offer fulfilling careers in a range of professions that extend beyond the casino floor,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “Americans feel more favorably toward casino gaming than ever before, and they recognize that gaming creates jobs, boosts small businesses and positively affects local communities. We applaud Iowa policymakers who are working with casinos in order to continue strengthening their communities as they face increased competition from neighboring states.”

Iowa is home to 18 commercial casinos, including:

Ameristar Casino Hotel Council Bluffs;
Horseshoe Council Bluffs;
Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo;
Lady Luck Casino Marquette; and
Diamond Jo Casino Dubuque.
Jobs in gaming include: accounting; hotel management; information systems; technology; software; food and beverage; retail; entertainment and more.

In 2013, Iowa casinos generated nearly $322 million in tax revenue, which supported the state’s general fund, local education, infrastructure, environmental programs, cultural initiatives and tourism projects.

With gaming present in more markets today, consumers are no longer limited to a handful of options. Therefore, just as casinos are competing against each other, states are striving to implement the most favorable environment for gaming to thrive and benefit their communities. Gaming is viewed more favorably than ever, and it behooves lawmakers to adopt policies based on facts aboutgaming.

The AGA’s “Get to Know Gaming” campaign is helping to pave the way for more states to view casino operators as partners and adopt policies that reflect that mindset. The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum recognize that casino gaming creates jobs, strengthens local businesses and benefits communities.

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Missouri Casinos Employed More than 10,000 People, Paid Workers $330 Million in 2013

Washington, DC – Missouri’s 13 commercial casinos employed 10,016 permanent workers and paid its employees more than $328 million in wages, benefits and tips, according to new jobs numbers for 2013 released today by the American Gaming Association (AGA). Missouri ranks seventh nationwide for casino employment, while neighboring Iowa ranks ninth with more than 9,000 casino employees.

“Casino gaming has created thousands of jobs in Missouri that pay well above the minimum wage and offer fulfilling careers in a range of professions that extend beyond the casino floor,” said Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the AGA. “Americans feel more favorably toward casino gaming than ever before, and they recognize that gaming creates jobs, boosts small businesses and positively affects local communities. We applaud Missouri policymakers who are working with casinos in order to continue strengthening their communities as they face increased competition from neighboring states.”

In 2013, Missouri casinos generated more than $452 million in tax revenue, which funded education, public safety programs, services for veterans and early childhood programs.

Missouri is home to 13 casinos, including:

Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in St. Charles;
Ameristar Casino Hotel Kansas City;
Harrah’s North Kansas City Casino & Hotel;
Isle of Capri Casino and Hotel in Boonville; and
Hollywood Casino St. Louis.
With gaming present in more markets today, consumers are no longer limited to a handful of options. Therefore, just as casinos are competing against each other, states are striving to implement the most favorable environment for gaming to thrive and benefit their communities. Gaming is viewed more favorably than ever, and it behooves lawmakers to adopt policies based on facts aboutgaming.

The AGA’s “Get to Know Gaming” campaign is helping to pave the way for more states to view casino operators as partners and adopt policies that reflect that mindset. The vast majority of voters across the political spectrum recognize that casino gaming creates jobs, strengthens local businesses and benefits communities.

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