A new era

Written by Bill Toland on .

This is the New Era logo. Please don't tell them we are using it. The Neil Bluhm era officially begins in Pittsburgh:

"The North Shore casino is back from the brink. Rescuing the riverfront venue from a possible bankruptcy, an ownership group led by Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm closed on $555 million in financing yesterday, clearing the way for construction to resume for the first time since June 30. Some workers were back on the job yesterday. Construction should be going full tilt by the end of the week, said Dan Fee, spokesman for Holdings Acquisition Co., which was formed by Mr. Bluhm to take over the troubled project. The company hopes to get the casino completed by next August, about three months later than the timetable set by Detroit businessman Don Barden before he relinquished control of the slots parlor to Mr. Bluhm's group."

... The Patriot-News of Harrisburg says that Pennsylvania is losing out on tax revenue thanks to the absence of casinos in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and that means homeowners are missing out on some preoperty tax relief:

"Pittsburgh's Majestic Star casino was to open by March, but was sidelined by financial problems. In Philadelphia, neighborhood activists have stalled the SugarHouse casino, which was to open in April. Gov. Ed Rendell's budget office estimates that the state is losing $10 million per casino in property tax cuts every month that the openings are delayed." 

More casino trouble?

We've already had one indictment related to Pennsylvania's new gambling industry. Here's rooting for another:

"The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office has opened a criminal investigation that is believed to include a review of financial transactions connected to the development of Presque Isle Downs & Casino in Summit Township. Agents with the office have seized a computer hard drive that contains extensive records of payments made and received by Tecnica Development Corp., the Erie-based company that had a multimillion-dollar consulting contract with MTR Gaming Group Inc., the parent company of Presque Isle Downs & Casino. The agents took the hard drive in April from a former vice president of Tecnica, Frank DeRosa, according to a document obtained by the Erie Times-News and statements made in Erie County Court on Monday. DeRosa, a real estate agent, left Tecnica in July 2007 after working for seven years for Tecnica and its owner, Greg Rubino, an Erie real estate agent and developer who is now leading the effort to build a tires-to-energy plant on Erie's east side."

It's a long story; you can read the whole thing here. Rubino, you may recall, was a key player in the case against former Erie mayor Rick Filippi, who was tried two years ago on corruption charges related to a failed casino and racetrack project.

Dispatches from the border

Another month, another round of bad news for Atlantic City:

"In a double whammy, both casino revenue and profits fell during what one gaming analyst bluntly called an 'ugly' second quarter. Competition from Pennsylvania slot parlors, the sluggish economy and high gas prices continue to push down earnings for an industry mired in a prolonged slump. Gross operating profits plunged 16.5 percent to $247.3 million and net revenue slipped 3.3 percent to $1.15 billion in the second quarter compared with the same period in 2007, according to figures released Tuesday by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission."

... In New York, though, Indian casinos are doing just fine -- or at least, they did just fine last year:

"Indian-run casinos generated more than $1 billion in revenues last year and may have taken a bite out of Atlantic City's action, a new report shows. Despite a slowing economy, New York's eight Indian gaming facilities saw a 7.7 percent increase in revenue from 2006 to 2007, topping $1.02 billion, Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report says." 

Odds and ends

Gambling numbers dip slightly in Pennsylvania last week ... MTR shares drop on a bad financial review from Standard & Poor's ... The Bay State is still pushing for casinos, but one high-profile gambling opponent isn't backing down ... Our long search for Grandmother of the Year is over:

"Police have charged a grandmother who they say left her grandchildren in her car while she gambled at a Hallandale Beach casino Tuesday. Police said Jeanne Shahan was arrested after a patron at the casino saw two children, a 2-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, alone in a car at the Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center parking lot."

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