My brother called the other day to tell me a squirrel had found its way into his home -- it had fallen into the chimney, bypassed the gate that's supposed to keep birds and vermin out, dropped into the fireplace, and darted into the living room. Before he even saw the squirrel, my brother was alerted to the animal's presence by a metronomic thumping noise, the squirrel bashing its skull against the windows repeatedly.
"Blood and squirrel fur everywhere," my brother said.
But you have to give the squirrel points for persistence, right? Even if, in the end, it's just beating its head against a window:
"The company that spent $36 million to defeat a gambling measure last year has returned with a proposal to transform Ohio's seven horse-racing tracks into gambling emporiums and allow four casinos in cities. Penn National Gaming Inc., the owner of a Toledo racetrack and one of the nation's deepest-pocketed gambling companies, is talking to lawmakers about sponsoring a November 2009 ballot measure. The discussions come only two months after Ohio voters overwhelmingly defeated a ballot measure for a casino near Wilmington. Penn National put up virtually all of the money for the campaign against that measure."
P.S. A happy ending for the squirrel -- my brother opened the back door to the home, and the squirrel eventually escaped. Will Ohio's gambling advocates be so lucky?
"Gov. Ted Strickland's willingness to soften his resistance to expanded gambling in Ohio has given renewed hopes to the casino industry, which for years has been shut out of the state. At least two gambling proposals were already in the works when Strickland on Thursday said he would consider turning to the casino industry to generate state revenue to help fill an impending $7 billion budget hole."
Funny how a gaping $7 billion budget hole will change your mind about some things.
... The Cannery, which bought Washington County's Meadows ractetrack and casino three years ago, has itself been purchased: "The Nevada Gaming Control Board last week endorsed the $1.8-billion acquisition of Cannery Casino Resorts by Melbourne, Australia-based Crown Ltd."
... Nothing's coming easy for the would-be casino operators in Philly:
"Critics of a proposed Foxwoods Philadelphia casino are calling for a review of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board's decision to grant the casino partners a license despite Mashantucket Pequot Chairman Michael Thomas' 1988 drug-selling conviction. Thomas cleared a 2006 investigation by the Pennsylvania gaming board despite a 2004 state law regulating slot machine gaming that prohibits the licensing of felons who have not completed their sentence within the previous 15 years."
... meanwhile, SugarHouse says it needs some help to accelerate the permitting process.
Dispatches from the east
2008 was historically bad for Atlantic City:
"The seaside resort's 11 casinos had their biggest-ever monthly revenue decline last month, down 18.7 percent from December 2007, to $302 million, the Casino Control Commission reported yesterday. For the year, Atlantic City's gambling revenue came to $4.6 billion, a drop of 7.6 percent from 2007 and the first time it dipped below $5 billion since 2005."
... is it a big deal that the Mt. Airy Resort and Casino in the Poconos is getting cash from its former owner to help fund capital projects? Maybe -- if your former owner is under indictment:
"The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved a petition from Mount Airy Resort Casino to permit funding of capital improvement projects by Louis A. DeNaples, the suspended owner. DeNaples will also help the casino to pay its property tax bill and local impact fees. DeNaples, under a felony perjury indictment, is still prohibited from any involvement in day-to-day operation of the casino, pending an investigation of allegations he lied to a grand jury about possible connections with a reputed organized crime figure."
For sale: an Iowa town?
Is Neil Bluhm, the new head of the former Don Barden casino project on the North Shore, about to turn Des Plaines into a company town?
"Chicago billionaire Neil Bluhm, who will likely build and own a casino in Des Plaines and have it up and running within two years, got Des Plaines 'on the cheap', one of the nation's leading opponents of gambling told the Journal & Topics Newspapers this week. Tom Grey, a Methodist minister and outspoken critic of casinos, said he fears that the willingness of local leaders to give up $300 million in tax revenue in order to help land state approval for a casino here will align the community so closely to Bluhm and the gambling operation that Des Plaines will become a 'company town.' ... 'Think about it. Here's a guy with casinos in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Canada and he's saying to Des Plaines "'subsidize us."'"
... Suddenly, the property developer is deep into the casino biz, reports the AP.
Odds and ends
The Mohegan Sun is cutting employee salaries at all of its casinos, including the one in Pennsylvania ... Indiana casinos take a beating ... A new study says cigarette smoke from the gaming floor can, and does, drift into the casino's designated non-smoking sections ... An unlikely profile about an unlikely Pittsburgh restauranteur-turned-casino-lobbyist ... Wheeling Island is cutting 27 jobs.