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Get on the "Bus": Barden Partners with Bettis in Pennsylvania

26 April 2006

ast week, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board held a public hearing on proposals that have been made for a casino license in the city of Pittsburg. Detroiters Don Barden, and recently retired Pittsburg Steeler Jerome Bettis teamed up to form one of the bidders, PITG Gaming, LLC. At the hearing, Motown Star, Smokey Robinson, led the presentation on behalf of the group, and Mr. Barden provided further details and answered numerous questions.

PITG Gaming, LLC is proposing to build a "Majestic Star" casino on the north shore, west of Carnegie Science Center. The proposal calls for a $410 million casino facility plus a possible hotel facility. The group is also pledging $7.5 million a year for 30 years to help fund a new arena for the Pittsburg Penguins. Owners of the Penguins have expressed a need for a new arena in order to remain in Pittsburg. In total, this group's bid is more than $1.1 billion.

By agreeing to provide funding for a new arena, Barden's group followed an idea that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell had put forth in order to fund a new arena with additional contributions coming from the Penguins. Barden's proposal also calls for $350 million to be invested to help redevelop the lower Hill district of Pittsburg by creating high quality housing, shops and recreational areas. Jerome Bettis will serve as the chair of the group that will work on the Hill district development.

Barden's group is competing against two other billion dollar proposals:

The Isle of Capri Casinos, which has partnered with the Pittsburg Penguins, calls for a new arena to be funded entirely from casino renewal. They are proposing a $450 million casino with the arena situated next to it. They have also included a real estate development proposal for the lower Hill area totaling more than $350 million. The development project will be in partnership with Nationwide Realty Investors of Ohio.

Harrah's Entertainment has teamed up with former Pittsburg Steelers star Franco Harris to make the third proposal called "Forest City". The Forest City group is proposing a $512 million casino, coupled with a 200 room expansion of an existing Sheraton hotel. The proposal also includes a 1200 unit condo project. They have also committed to help fund a new arena at an unspecified level.

Barden's Majestic Star, LLC currently owns five casinos in Indiana, Colorado, Nevada, and Mississippi. As recent efforts in Pennsylvania demonstrate, it is clear that he intends to further grow the business empire by focusing on being in tune with the communities in which he seeks to expand. The addition of Jerome Bettis to his team, with a focused job of helping the community to redevelop, can only enhance his efforts to compete with the big gaming companies.

David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com
David Waddell
David Waddell is an attorney for Regulatory Management Counselors, P.C. (RMC), which assists businesses in navigating the legislative, regulatory and licensing systems governing Michigan’s commercial and tribal casino industries. He is the co-author of The State of Michigan Gaming Law Legal Resource Book and one of the founders of The Michigan Gaming Newsletter.

David Waddell Websites:

www.michigangaming.com