All around Pennsylvania, casino investors are digging for their checkbooks:
"Pennsylvania's highest court says a ban on political campaign contributions by casino owners and executives is unconstitutional," reports the Associated Press. "The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the ban violates the state constitution's guarantee of free speech. The ban was included in the state's 2004 law that legalized slot machines. It was considered the nation's broadest such restriction. A majority of justices agreed with the argument by Philadelphia-area developer Peter DePaul, who sued to challenge the law in 2007. He's a part owner of Foxwoods Casino Philadelphia, which hasn't been built. DePaul argued that the ban was an overly broad and discriminatory infringement of the rights of free expression and association. The ban was touted as a major bulwark against the political influence that the lucrative gambling industry can exert over policymakers."
And now? Exert away, I guess. So maybe this is now a moot point?:
"An investor in Philadelphia's casino industry is under scrutiny by the state Gaming Control Board. The board's Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement is considering whether a $1,000 campaign gift in December 2005 by attorney Richard Sprague to Lt. Gov. Catherine Baker Knoll violated a ban on political contributions by gambling interests. Sprague is a partner in HSP Gaming, the group behind the SugarHouse Casino planned for Philadelphia."
... Want a job at the new Rivers Casino on the North Shore? Take a number:
"More than 4,400 people, many with resumes in hand, packed the David L. Lawrence Convention Center ballroom [yesterday] morning looking to land a job at the Rivers Casino. The crowd quickly filled the 1,500 seats in the ballroom and overflowed into the lobby. The overwhelming size of the group caused casino officials to hold a second, impromptu introduction so those who weren't in the ballroom could hear it. Job seekers were greeted with the rock song, 'Get Ready.' They included a wide range of ages -- those with jobs, unemployed, and at least one retiree looking to get out of the house."
That's 4,400 people, for 1,000 available jobs. Steep odds -- but better odds than you'll find by actually gambling at the casino.
... The Rivers Casino is still scheduled to open in August, but will it be adorned with two big billboards when it opens?:
"A plan to install two jumbotrons at the Rivers Casino needs sharper focus, according to city planners. The Planning Department has delayed action on a request by the casino to attach the screens to the east and west sides of the venue's parking garage until officials find out exactly what operators want to broadcast from them. [During] a briefing before the planning commission two weeks ago, architect Michael Stern said the casino hoped to use the 31.25-foot by 17.5-foot screens to advertise events and restaurants inside the slots parlor, to show new slot machines, and maybe broadcast live footage of concerts, fireworks and other performances."
Dispatches from the border
The steady parade of bad news from Atlantic City marches on, horns a'tootin':
"The Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, filed for bankruptcy today after winning regulatory permission to try to sell the resort to Carl Icahn and a group of other investors. The bankruptcy should allow an auction of the casino before the end of June ... The bankruptcy is necessary for a 'free and clear' sale of the Atlantic City casino, which is operating profitably."
And with bad casino numbers, you have bad air traffic:
"Atlantic City's lights still sparkle but the prospect of extending that postcard image to Bader Field [airport] - a redevelopment that officials believed would forever change the future of the city - has faded along with the gambling town's economic picture. ... If not for the rusty hangars, motorists speeding past Bader Field on the Atlantic City Expressway would barely notice they were passing one of the nation's first aviation facilities officially called an airport."
... slow and steady progress in Maryland.
"The chairman of a commission charged with awarding Maryland's five casino licenses said Tuesday that 'there's more optimism' these days for a gambling-related windfall to state coffers despite a recession and lackluster initial interest from the private sector. Donald C. Fry, a former Harford County delegate who heads the politically appointed panel, said he based his hopeful prognosis on new expectations that a full-scale casino will come to downtown Baltimore and on preliminary feedback from consultants hired to advise the commission."
Oh, yeah, you can totally taste the optimism.
Odds and ends
Revenue reports from Presqe Isle, Mohegan Sun and The Meadows ... Pinnacle might close its Reno property ... It's not just the recession that's taking a toll on casinos and Las Vegas -- it's borrowing and construction debt ... The land-based Gary, Ind., casino is struggling to stay afloat pay its bills ...
Here's the flip-side to all that free flowing comp booze:
"Following two recent fatal accidents, the Mohegan Sun casino is increasing its effort to spot gamblers who may be drunk. The casino president says Mohegan Sun is expanding its alcohol-related employee training program and beginning an awareness campaign. Mitchell Etess says 800 people in the table gaming department are receiving training to identify intoxicated customers. Etess says drink servers are limiting patrons to two drinks, rather than three."