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Grand casino biloxi after katrina

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – Before Katrina, Mississippi’s Gulf Coast had evolved from a swampy backwater to a boom town of casinos, tourism and Red rock casino bingo times beachfront entertainment employing thousands.

Now, the Magnolia State is fighting to keep the lucrative travel industry alive.

Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission (MGC), hopes to do that, although he’s not fully confident that the gaming companies are willing to come back and rebuild their businesses. And there are now some indications that his task is daunting — particularly if there’s no change in the state’s 12-year-old gambling law that mandates casinos operate only on water in floating barges.

In a filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) Tuesday, MGM Mirage (Research) said its Beau Rivage resort in Biloxi had “suffered significant property damage” and that the company was suspending its operations there “for an indefinite period.”

An update on its Web site Monday said the Casino Magic Biloxi “will be closed indefinitely.” Casino Magic’s parent company, Pinnacle Entertainment (Research), said in a statement last week that the company “currently intends” to rebuild its casinos in the affected areas, including the extensive-damaged Casino Magic Biloxi.

Updated information on Harrah’s Entertainment (Research)’s Web site said the company’s two casinos in the region — the Grand Casino Biloxi and Grand Casino Gulfport — “are closed indefinitely.” Harrah’s had more than 8,000 workers employed in the Gulf Coast.

Harrah’s spokesman Alberto Lopez said Monday the company’s decision whether or not to return was reflected in “comments made by our CEO Gary Loveman that Harrah’s will return to the Gulf Coast bigger and better,” Lopez said. “But the state’s legislature has to revisit the current laws.”

The new $300 million Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Biloxi that was scheduled to open last week also suffered extensive damage, and whether or not it will rebuild is an open question, according to the MGC. Hard Rock Hotel could not be reached for comment.

If the casinos don’t return, the state could risk losing thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in gaming revenue and taxes, MGC’s Gregory warned.

“I’ve had conversations with five CEOs of major casino companies, including Harrah’s and MGM and Casino Magic. They tell me they’re reluctant to rebuild if the other factors (the laws) still exist,” Gregory said in an interview with CNN/Money Monday.

Barge concerns

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gregory said casino companies will find it tougher to convince their own shareholders about once again operating offshore floating casinos either along the Gulf Coast or on the Mississippi River.

All 13 of the region’s casinos in Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis are closed and more than half were “completely destroyed” by the storm. The state is losing $500,000 in gambling tax every day as a result, Gregory said.

“The other challenge is that insurance companies won’t want to cover them if they operate on water,” Gregory said.

Mississippi’s offshore gambling industry pours close to $3 billion a year into state’s coffers, making it the third largest casino market in the country. According to the MGC, the three Mississippi Gulf Coast gambling hubs of Biloxi, Gulfport and Bay St. Louis together generated over $1 billion in revenue last year.

“This region twelve years ago was a ghost town,” Gregory said. “The casinos and hotels have revitalized the area and added 14,000 jobs.”

He gave an example: “Tunica, Miss., was one of the poorest counties in the U.S. in the early 90’s. Now it’s the third-largest gambling destination in the country with 10 casinos. The casino revenue went into building infrastructure, medical care, fire department, schools. Two months ago, it also saw the biggest boom in condos.”

On July 1, the state amended its gambling law slightly to allow casinos to use “pilings,” which are long steel structures driven into the seabed to firmly anchor offshore floating platforms.

Gregory thinks this is too little too late.

“The issue with the pilings is that they’re still over water,” he said. “If we experience another hurricane like Katrina, the water will wash over the pilings and the barges.”

“We have a very serious situation facing the future of our casino industry,” Gregory said, important enough for the governor to possibly call a special summit of the state’s legislature to completely overhaul the gambling law and allow inland gambling options, similar to those in neighboring Louisiana.

“The first order of business is looking after the people that were affected,” he said. “Then we have to get back on our feet because there are too many jobs at risk.”

News Releases

News Release – Manitoba

TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR REVIEW AND EVALUATION OF FIRST NATIONS CASINO PROJECT RELEASED

WINNIPEG–The Province of Manitoba and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) today released the terms of reference for the Review and Evaluation of the First Nations Casino Project.

A committee appointed jointly by the Province of Manitoba and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, consisting of Lloyd Stevenson, band advisor, Peguis First Nation, representing the AMC, and Rick Josephson, executive director, Manitoba Gaming Control Commission, representing the province, will be guided by these terms throughout the consultation and deliberation process.

The scope of the review includes examination of the:

  • Casino Project Selection Committee’s process and outcome,
  • the current legislative and regulatory framework, and
  • financial and business factors.

The committee will hold consultations with Manitoba First Nations and other stakeholder groups in mid-April through to late May.

The First Nations Casino Project was initiated in response to the recommendations of the 1997 First Nations Gaming Policy Review (Bostrom Report). In December 1999, a Selection Committee, consisting of representatives of the province and the AMC, was appointed to review and recommend potential casino proposals. On June 1, 2000, the Selection Committee recommended that five proposals be granted the opportunity to pursue casino licences. Since that time, one casino has opened, one proposal is still in development, three proposals will not proceed.

Today’s announcement formalizes the commitment made in late 2002 to establish a two-member committee to review and evaluate the Casino Project, to identify areas of concern, and to recommend solutions to overcome the concerns and problem areas.

The committee’s report and recommendations will be presented to AMC Grand Chief Dennis White Bird and Tim Sale, minister responsible for the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission, in the summer of 2003.

TERMS OF REFERENCE.

Terms of Reference

Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and the Province of Manitoba

Joint Review and Evaluation: 2000 First Nations Casino Project

In mid-November 2002, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and the Province of Manitoba agreed to establish a two-member committee to review and evaluate the First Nations Casino Project (FNCP), identify areas of concern and recommend solutions to overcome the concerns and problem areas.

The FNCP was initiated in response to the recommendations of the 1997 First Nations Gaming Policy Review (Bostrom Report). (A copy of the FNCP terms of reference is attached.) A Selection Committee, co-chaired by Martin Freedman, representing the province, Juegos gratis de casino dolphin treasure and Ron Nadeau, Free casino play online casino games representing the AMC, was established in December 1999, the Request for Proposals (RFP) was released in January 2000, the proposals were submitted by March 31, the recommendations for the development of five proposals were completed on May 31, and implementation of the recommendations were begun in late June.

Since June 2000, one casino has opened, one proposal is still in development, three proposals will not proceed. Given that the FNCP was seen as an economic development opportunity for Manitoba First Nations, the results of this initiative have been disappointing. Publicly, there is an awareness of the challenges faced by First Nations in attempting to establish on-reserve casino operations within existing municipalities and the impact this requirement had on the success of three of the proposals. The proposal still in development also faces challenges, as does the casino now operating. However, these challenges are not related to “urban reserve” issues.

Recent presentations by the AMC and by Aseneskak Casino Inc. have identified several issues perceived as impinging on the success of the FNCP generally, and the casino more specifically. Further, the Provincial Designate has identified operational, business and market realities affecting the FNCP, implementation of the Selection Committee recommendations and Aseneskak’s operations. These issues may best be described as falling into three categories:

  1. implementation of Bostrom Report and Selection Committee activities,
  2. sovereignty and Milady x2 slots fortunejack casino play online self-determination, and
  3. business and market capabilities/capacity.

The distinction between the last two issues is critical, in accomplishing this review the committee members must be mindful of factors attributable to the success or failure of the FNCP as an economic development initiative.

Terms of Reference:

The committee’s first responsibility was to develop terms of reference to guide this review. These terms were presented to the AMC and the province and agreed to by both parties before the committee proceeded with implementation. These terms will guide the committee members and any external advisors directed by the committee in completing their review and evaluation of the FNCP.

Scope of Review and Evaluation:

The committee is directed to examine the following:

  1. Selection Committee and Implementation Committee Process and Outcome
  • Bostrom Report/Terms of Reference
  • Request for Proposals
  • Proposal Preparation and Submission
  • Mandatory Requirements: First Nations proponents only, located on-reserve land, regulatory framework compliance
  • Evaluation and Recommendations
  • Consideration of next steps

Expected Outcome: An evaluation of the Selection Committee and Implementation Committee process, identifying strengths and limitations, based on the terms of reference established by the province and the AMC, Nov. 18, 1999.

  1. Legislative and Regulatory Framework
  • Criminal Code and Provincial Legislation
  • Comprehensive Provincial Framework Agreement
  • Conduct and Management Agreement
  • The Manitoba Gaming Control Act
  • The Manitoba Lotteries Corporation Act
  • First Nations Gaming Commission Agreements

Expected Outcome: An evaluation of the current legislative and regulatory framework. Deliberations on this issue must include consideration of legislative amendment of the Gaming Control Act and proposed First Nation Gaming Act.

  1. Financial/Business Factors
  • Taxation
  • Revenue Sharing Formula and Mechanism
  • Business Partnerships – First Nations Consortiums, private partnerships

Expected Outcome: An evaluation of issues and conditions impacting financial and business outcomes and possible measures to mitigate any issues.

Consultation and Research:

Targeted Consultations: The committee is expected to conduct targeted consultations with stakeholder groups, What is the best free online poker expert advisors, financial institutions, casino proponents, provincial agencies and other interested groups and individuals. The committee will establish a formal consultation plan, including timelines and expected outcomes but at a minimum, will include the following:

  1. Working through the Provincial Tribal Councils, the committee intends to seek input from First Nations leadership including successful and unsuccessful proponents in the FNCP.
  2. Provincial officials from Finance, Aboriginal and Northern Affairs, Justice, Manitoba Lotteries Corporation and Manitoba Gaming Control Commission.
  3. Implementation Committee members.
  4. Legal counsels to First Nation Casino Proponents.
  5. First Nations Bank and Peace Hills Trust.
  6. Others as deemed necessary by the Committee.

Jurisdictional Review: The committee is expected to gather relevant information and advice from jurisdictions with similar First Nations casino gaming activities and opportunities. Attention should focus on legislative and regulatory regimes, operational policies and practices, experiences and future plans. It is recommended that the provinces of Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia be included in this review.

PricewaterhouseCoopers Review: At present, a review of Aseneskak’s business operations is underway. There may be opportunities to use data from this exercise to inform the deliberations of this committee. It should be noted that the findings and results of this review are considered to be confidential as they relate to financing and business planning.

Report Submission:

The committee’s report and recommendations will be presented to Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Dennis White Bird and to Tim Sale, minister responsible for the Gaming Control Act on behalf of the province.

It is estimated that an interim report would be submitted by April 30, 2003, with the final report to be presented by June 30, 2003.

The committee is expected to conduct and complete its review in a timely fashion, (within four months), that permits comprehensive consideration of the FNCP.

For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: Coin for gambling 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications Services Manitoba: 204-945-3765.
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-794-0732.

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