CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Recent Articles
Best of Ken Adams

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Bits and Pieces from Indian Country - August 2003

31 August 2003

If you live or have an interest in Northern Nevada, the story of the summer is the Thunder Valley Casino, operated by Station Casinos Inc. for the United Auburn Indian Community near Sacramento, California. The property taps directly into Reno's life line, Interstate Highway 80, and symbolizes the impact of Indian gaming in California on Nevada. The impact on Reno of the first month of operations wasn't as bad as originally predicted, but winter and snow has not yet arrived in the Sierras dividing Nevada and California. Another interesting issue has surfaced rather quickly, the demographic differences between Thunder Valley and Reno casinos. Thunder Valley (and Cache Creek) has a very high percentage of players who are Asian. Those players spend much more per person than other players and are therefore casino VIPs in California and when they play here, in Nevada. Harrah's thinks inviting players from Harrah's in Nevada to Thunder Valley is a legal cause for action.

Thunder Valley Doesn't Hurt Northern Nevada Gaming as Much as Feared.  When is a decrease in Northern Nevada gaming win good economic news? When you were afraid of a catastrophe because a large tribal casino opened in your backyard. So, casino executives and analysts voiced relief Wednesday when the state released June gaming win numbers. At the same time, they remain worried about how Northern Nevada will fare once winter hits and tourists must drive across the Donner Summit. But for now, the declines of less than 3 percent in Reno, Sparks, Stateline and Elko County -- compared with June 2002 – show that the strong June 9 opening of the Thunder Valley Casino in nearby Lincoln, Calif., was a bruise, not a broken bone. Edward H. Shur, 8-14-03

…At least that's the hope of the United Auburn Indian Community, owners of the Placer County gambling hall that opened in June. Like casino proprietors across the nation, the tribe is banking heavily on amenities such as the ornate room, festooned with Asian art, to lure a hefty portion of gamblers of Asian descent. "They are a very important part of our customer base," said Bill Anderson, casino vice president for player development. "I'd guess that they make up 60 percent to 70 percent of our table-game customers, and 20 percent to 25 percent of our slot players." Those are hefty numbers, considering people of Asian descent make up about 9 percent of the Sacramento area's population and about 18 percent of the Bay Area's, according to the 2000 U.S. census. Steve Wiegand, Sacramento Bee, 8-25-03

Harrah's officials say that one of their former employees copied a list of its top customers and used it to try to persuade clients to visit Thunder Valley in Lincoln, according to the lawsuit filed in Placer County Superior Court. …According to the lawsuit, Harrah's started receiving reports in April that clients had been solicited by mail to visit Thunder Valley when it opened in June. Harrah's contends… (the employee) broke her employment contract with the casino when she duplicated the confidential information and disclosed it to a third party. ktuv.com, 8-25-03

A customer list may be propitiatory, but an idea usually isn't. In the beginning of Indian gaming in California, the casinos were not much competition for the Nevada casinos. They were small. The slot product was not even close to as exciting, and the food and other amenities were not much by Las Vegas Strip standards. The world has changed a great deal since those days. Today a California casino will most likely have the same slots, (except possibly newer), food, hotel rooms and maybe even a weekly "pick the pros contest," and most are likely planning an expansion with new and exciting products.

With more than 13 games on more than 40 screens, San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino is preparing for football season with their new "SportsWatch Football" cash giveaway contest. Players Club cardholders can win their share of $250,000 during the 18 weeks of football season. Every week, players fill out a "parlay card" and choose the football teams they think will win each week's professional and college football games. The person with the most correct picks wins that week's top prize. "SportsWatch is a great way to follow the football season. This will be a football fan's dream," said Steve Lengel, director of operations. Two hundred players will win cash and prizes each week, with first-place winners taking home $3,000 in cash. Weekly winners are also automatically entered into a $10,000 grand prize drawing. Redlands Daily Facts, 8-20-03

Pala Casino makes the leap from gambling hall to gambling resort today, opening a 500-room hotel, a conference center and a health spa offering mud baths and massages. The $105 million project is intended to keep the Fallbrook-area casino competitive in the San Diego region's rapidly growing market. Both Rincon and Barona tribes opened hotels last year, and similar expansions have been made or are planned on several other reservations in San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The objective for all of them is to get local gamblers to stay overnight, as well as to draw patrons from throughout Southern California and neighboring states. Chet Barfield, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8-19-03

It's big, it's bold, it's beautiful: The new Chumash Casino Resort. Just 25 miles north of Goleta off Highway 246 in Santa Ynez, the old Chumash Casino has closed its doors and the new Chumash Casino Resort is now open – a sparkling, full-service casino that rivals the ones in Las Vegas. The mammoth three-story, 190,000-square-foot structure boasts high ceilings, colorful carpeting and – under a cascading chandelier – a bank of escalators that whisk gamblers up to a gaming floor with some 2,000 slot machines, poker tables, bingo hall and adult gambling fun.  Rochelle Rose, Goleta Valley Voice, 8-20-03

Until recently, there have been no new Compacts in more than three years and with the recall election heating up, it isn't likely that Davis will renegotiate the existing ones. Under the circumstances a new Compact is significant, even if the casino to follow will not be, and the revenue sharing, far short of the 25 percent Davis talked about early on, is also significant. Farther north, the Lytton Pomo are still trying to open their "urban" casino and Stations and Graton Rancheria are still looking for a friendly spot for that casino.

An impoverished Riverside County tribe has reached a groundbreaking agreement with the state that will allow it to open a casino/truck stop off Highway 86 in Imperial County and a larger casino in Riverside County. The agreement, announced yesterday between the Torres-Martinez Band of Desert Cahuilla Indians of Thermal and the Davis administration, contains some features not found in many gambling pacts with other tribes. The compact, as the agreement is known, gives the state a growing – though small – share of slot machine profits, restricts gambling to people at least 21 years old and requires the tribe to reach agreement with local governments over how to provide services and accommodate the casinos. The compact is the first signed by the state in three and a half years. The state is negotiating new compacts with 61 tribes that it had reached agreement with in 1999. More than 30 other tribes that don't operate casinos, but would like to, are also negotiating with the state to enter this lucrative industry. … Under this agreement, the tribe pays to the state 3 percent of its first year net winnings on the 350 slot machines planned for the truck stop/casino in Imperial County. In the second year, the tribe would pay 4 percent, while in the third and subsequent years, the tribe would pay the state 5 percent. Bill Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 8-14-03

A federal judge in Sacramento once again has shot down card rooms' efforts to keep the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians from turning Casino San Pablo into California's first urban-sited, Nevada-style casino. U.S. District Judge David F. Levi's 28-page order denies the card rooms the preliminary injunction they sought, clearing the way for the Interior Department to declare the card room Indian land. But the battle isn't over. The Lyttons can conduct some gaming as soon as the Moorish-styled gaming house 15 minutes north of Oakland officially becomes theirs, but they can't offer house-banked games – like the thousands of slot machines that would provide most of their profits – until they negotiate a gaming compact with the governor. And the card rooms vowed Wednesday to continue their legal fight. Josh Richman, Tri-Valley Journal, 8-7-03

For a community that embraced the concept of Indian gaming three years ago, finding a place to put a casino has turned into one of Sonoma County's most explosive and divisive political issues. The Graton tribe that encountered fierce opposition after proposing a 2,000-slot casino on scenic bay lands near Sears Point four months ago now wants to build the project on a 360-acre site next to Rohnert Park. And once again, the naysayers are multiplying. Spencer Soper, Press Democrat, 9-2-03

The biggest story so far this year in California is the recall election. Governor Gray Davis' popularity dropped to new lows. The dissatisfaction over the state of the state led a Republican with money to decide it was a good time to replace the governor with a Republican. Enough people agreed and signed the petition and the vote is scheduled for October 7, 2003. Some 250 people volunteered to replace the incumbent, and at least 125 will appear on the ballot. Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger thinks he would make a good governor, so does the Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

The election is not being billed as related to Indian gaming. However, the results will certainly be important to the future of Indian gaming. Most candidates have no history or stated position on Indian gaming, except the two democrats. Davis and Bustamante both have strong tribal support and a history of working with the tribes; Arnie has no history with the tribes. Up to this point Bustamante has collected $2.5 million from two tribes. Schwarzenegger says he will accept none. Arnie hasn't told us much about what he thinks, and we have no clue about his stance on Indian gaming, urban casinos, new compacts or tribal contributions to state revenues.  He did say that taking money from tribes would be a conflict of interest because he would have to negotiate with them later, so he does know Indian casinos exist. One thing is certain; by October 7th everyone in California will be reminded of the existence of Indian casinos, and of their importance in the electoral process.

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, who announced Wednesday that he will run in the recall election to replace Gov. Gray Davis, has long been a major recipient of money from Indian tribes with casinos, and could receive significant sums from them in his campaign. Since first winning an Assembly seat in 1993, Bustamante has accepted more than $1.5 million in direct donations from tribes with casinos. Since he took office as lieutenant governor in 1999, tribes have accounted for 12 percent of his total contributions. Dan Morain, Los Angeles Times, 8-8-03

A San Diego County Indian tribe with gaming interests plans to give Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante $2 million for his recall campaign…. donation pledged Tuesday by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians – which analysts said could be the biggest contribution made by any single group in the recall election….The donation, which follows a $500,000 contribution to his campaign by another tribe last week, is part of what tribal leaders statewide pledge will be a $10 million effort to defeat the recall against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and back Bustamante. Zachary Coile and Paul Feist, San Francisco Chronicle, 9-3-03

Lest we begin to think the whole recall "thing" is simply California gone California on itself, one should remember that in Washington the tribes were the deciding factor in the defeat of a long-time US Senator. And at least one of the Democratic presidential hopefuls has begun trying to defend his position and win tribal support.

As former Vermont Governor Howard Dean continues to lead the pack of Democratic presidential candidates, his stance on Native American issues is coming under increased scrutiny in Indian Country. Advisors defended the candidate's opposition to Indian gaming during a conference call with the Native American Times Thursday. Jeff Benay is chairman of the Vermont Governor's Advisory Commission on Native American Affairs, a cabinet position formed before Dean took office. He says Dean is sympathetic to Indian issues, but worries about the effect gaming has on tribes, as well as the atmosphere it brings. "His (Dean's) record is consistent in his opposition to gaming. Howard Dean has never supported gaming in the state of Vermont," said Benay. "We can talk about the very few tribes who have done well with gaming, but overwhelmingly tribes have suffered miserably by hiring unscrupulous consultants in their gaming operations." Sam Lewin, Native Times, 8-15-03

The gaming industry grew 5.3 percent; Indian gaming was up 11.5 percent to $14.2 billion. That is a lot of money, and there is potential for considerable growth. That is worth defending. The best defense in politics comes before the lobbyists walk the legislative halls. The best defense is at the polling booth. Elect those that support your cause. Every year the tribes spend more money and are more active in the election process. Expect that trend to continue and to grow at least at the rate of increase of gaming revenues. Want to get elected in your state? Get to know your local Indian tribe and their issues.

Ken Adams

Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.
Ken Adams
Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.