CASINO

Study doubts Illinois gambling estimates; Fond du Lac Band win payments battle; River Rock Casino refinancing moves forward

TAGs: Chicago, duluth, fond du lac band, Illinois, Pat Quinn, river rock casino

IllinoisAn independent study has found that gambling industry expansion in Illinois would earn the state an extra $160million-a-year. The report was commissioned by the office of Governor Pat Quinn, someone that has been far from welcoming of the plans for expansion. It was originally thought the bill, scaled back at the behest of Quinn, would generate $1billion for state coffers meaning the report’s figure is drastically less than first reported. It also states a casino in Chiacgo would generate an additional $7m to $17m if horse tracks had slot machines removed and tax was raised. Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) is a sponsor of the bill and told the Chicago Tribune that he questions the numbers. He added that casinos traditionally bring in more money than original estimates and now that this report has been published, Quinn’s office can start negotiating with lawmakers on the bill. Quinn had opposed original plans for widespread expansion of slots at horse tracks and coincidentally the findings seem to back this and a lot of his other thoughts. Handy that.

A stones-throw away in Duluth, the Fond du Lac Band has won a ruling to cease payments to the city. The Native American band has paid the city $6million a year since the Fond-du-Luth casino became the first off reservation venue back in 1986. The band stopped making payments in 2009 citing an agreement signed back in 1994 being in conflict with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The state argued they should continue paying for a further 25 years. The state lost. One crumb of comfort comes with the fact that the band must pay back revenue withheld since 2009 – some $14m. That is unlikely as it contradicts a National Indian Gaming Commission order that forbids such payments.

River Rock Casino bondholders have been handed a deadline as the Pomo Indian owned venue aims to refinance outstanding debt. The note holders have until December 19 to accept the plan that would see the existing debt of $200m traded for new debt at lower interest rates. It would mean the California casino business exchanging the debt so that it’s paying 9% interest or a tax-exempt 7.5% on notes that mature in 2018.

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