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Best of Ken Adams

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Bits and Pieces from Indian Country - August 2008

1 September 2008

Indian gaming is not radically different when it comes to financing; tribal projects are being delayed and scaled back just as with other casino projects. But those that have the financing are pushing forward and opening new casinos or new projects. California, Michigan, Oklahoma and New Mexico are all seeing new and expanded projects.

After losing Harrah's as its financial backer last year, an American Indian tribe that hopes to build a casino resort complex at the former Point Molate Naval Base has found a new partner — the tribe that runs the popular Cache Creek casino resort in Yolo County. Financing from the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians will help the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians through an arduous federal approval process in its bid to build an 1,100-room resort with a casino, theater, convention center, retail and housing on the land at the foot of the Richmond-San Rafael bridge, said tribal spokesman Michael Derry. Rumsey would operate the casino, he said…Guidiville has agreed to pay Richmond $20 million a year if the plan materializes. (John Simerman, Contra Costa Times)

Rising like a massive steel skeleton in a former cornfield east of Battle Creek, construction of the FireKeepers Casino is well under way. Work began on the $300 million, 236,000-square-foot casino in May and it is scheduled to open next summer. The casino, owned by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Pottawatomie Indians, is about 5 miles east of Battle Creek, off Int. 94. "Everything's on track," said Donna Halinski, spokeswoman for the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Pottawatomie Indians. "Things are going very smoothly." Lansing-based Clark Construction Co. is building the casino on the 79-acre site. Amenities will be plentiful, with a 70-seat gourmet restaurant, a 300-seat buffet restaurant, a 150-seat, 24-hour coffee shop and sports bar and cabaret area. Gamblers will be able to test their luck and skill on 2,500 slot machines and 90 card table games and in a 20-table poker room. An attached parking garage will have enough spaces to accommodate nearly 2,100 vehicles. (Grand Rapids Press, 7-29-08)

After spending more than two hours meandering halls loaded with Native American artwork, rooms full of custom furniture, a spa, a casino and three restaurants at the soon-to-open Buffalo Thunder Resort and Casino, Pojoaque Gov. George Rivera stops. For a moment, he is lost amid the swank of the hotel's fifth floor. "I need to figure out where we are at," he says, his voice trailing off down a hallway with padded carpet and locally made sconces…For an instant, though, Rivera — and in many ways his pueblo of 389 people — is paused between a hardscrabble past and a luxurious future. As Rivera heads down four flights of stairs in the sprawling hotel, Pojoaque is transitioning between a pueblo that started its gaming business in a tiny Northern New Mexico shack and a high style, Las Vegas-quality casino. It's emerging from its place as the state's second-smallest pueblo and stepping into its role as host for the state's biggest, most expensive resort and casino…And getting the pueblo to its current size took centuries — something that almost didn't happen. The pueblo, which dates back to 1000 A.D., was almost nonexistent by the 1800s. Located in the Pojoaque Valley on what is now U.S. 84/285 just 15 miles north of Santa Fe, it was an unorganized lot, with most members having moved to other areas. Rivera's great-grandfather, Jose Antonio Tapia, was among the last to leave, in his case to Colorado in 1915. By 1932, though, Tapia was back and helped re-establish the pueblo under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. At that point, Pojoaque had just a dozen members in the area. Two nearby pueblos — Jacona and Cuyamungue — didn't survive the encroachment by others, the spread of disease, the lack of land that could be irrigated. (Jane Phillips, Santa Fe New Mexican, 8-4-08)

The federal government is trying to walk a thin line trying to satisfy tribes and states, a very difficult task one would think. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has published some new rules on "off reservation" gaming. The new rules are meant to reduce conflict and controversy, and they may – but not, one guesses, without a fight. Tribes with plans in process do not want to change mid-stream, and states that oppose off-reservation gaming will not be easily satisfied with any compromise.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs has published a rule that says casinos should be located within 25 miles of a reservation headquarters. But the rule has exceptions. Tribes may seek reservation status and permission to operate casinos on newly acquired land away from a reservation if tribes can show that a significant number of tribal members live nearby, can demonstrate a current connection to the property or if other tribal government facilities have been located on the land for at least two years before an application is filed for new reservation land. (Associated Press, 7-18-08)

Gaming, like the rest of the country, is in the midst of a very challenging time. The stress is bound to force many changes in the industry. Many of the weaker companies will fail, and many of the states with declining gaming tax revenues will be seeking new ways to make up for the losses. Indiana is putting slots at the tracks; Michigan and Ohio are putting keno into bars; and California and Illinois are seeking to sell their lotteries. The problem with most of these changes is they will put further pressures on other gaming revenues and that will increase the pressures for more changes. And around and around we go. That is, if we can get the financing for the merry-go-round, and that is by no means certain.

But now, that is simply my opinion, isn't it?

Ken

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.