New year at Graton Casino 2014
North Coast Journal - May 2, 2002: COVER STORY The rancherias at Trinidad and Blue Lake are quietly battling for the region's growing gambling market.
Above: an airbrush artist works on a Blue Lake Casino mural Below right: Workmen complete rock work at Cher-Ae Heights Casino in Trinidad.
Meanwhile, over at Blue Lake Rancheria, work is proceeding full-steam ahead on a new gaming facility located off Highway 299.
The Blue Lake Casino will employ 300 people and could provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the local economy.
It won't be able to compete with the scenic setting of Cher-Ae Heights.
But, as it is significantly closer to Arcata and Eureka, it will have the important advantage of convenience.
How big is the gaming pie the two casinos will be fighting over?
No one knows exactly, but according to a 2001 report by the New Orleans-based research firm Urban Systems Inc.
No one is calling it a war, but a battle is clearly brewing.
Cher-Ae Heights What started in 1988 as "a 20,000 square-foot tilt-up, a tin building" -- as one tribal official put it -- will soon be a 50,000 square-foot facility with a new look, more slots, an hopland shokawah casino & bingo bingo room, a bar dubbed the Firewater Lounge and the 200-seat Sunset Restaurant overlooking Trinidad Head.
The same cannot be said for a number of California Indian casinos.
Many have closed -- some permanently -- due to changes in management or troubles with investment arrangements.
Cher-Ae Heights itself has gone through several management teams over the years, although currently the tribal council manages the casino.
Over the course of 14 years that initial investment has generated millions of dollars, particularly since California's Indian gaming rules began allowing coin-fed slot machines.
Carol Ervin, tribal chairwoman for the Trinidad Rancheria sure and they're not saying.
Where does all that money go?
It goes back to the community in donations.
We have a housing fund, an education fund, we pay health insurance, fire insurance.
We're developing a social welfare base for our members so that no one will be on public assistance.
Then as you get into the interior you'll see more touches of Indian-ness.
We didn't want it to be all neon and bubbles shooting in the air.
Cher-Ae Height's Chef Jack Caza on left and Food and Beverage Manager Eric N.
I wanted the Indian people to have pride in it and feel some connection with it; on the other hand I wanted non-Indian people to feel they hopland shokawah casino & bingo welcome too.
While there is still work to be done on the building's interior, the restaurant is complete and the exterior upgrade requires only minor finishing touches.
We're not going to build a 100,000 square-foot building.
We're comfortable with what we have.
We're going to make it nicer and add more machines.
Before we're done I think we'll end up adding about a hundred read article machines.
A history of competition On the wall behind Ervin's desk are framed art pieces by her cousin, Brian Tripp.
Talking about his work, she mentions a piece that hangs in the hallway, a painting with a poem about the brush dance.
As talk turns to the importance of the dances, she mentions their competitive nature.
The tribes competed against each other to see who ajax casino new the best singer, the best dancers and who's going to come out with the strongest regalia.
And even today they hopland shokawah casino & bingo in the morning and as the day goes on they get more dressed up, more feathers, more color.
They get out of the Levis and sweatshirts look.
It will give people a choice.
I think they are two different businesses.
We have 14 years experience.
We've hopland shokawah casino & bingo here for a long time.
It predicts that once the Blue Lake Casino is up and running, it could draw around 10 percent more revenue than Cher-Ae Heights.
An inside look at the expanded bingo hall under construction.
Only the tribe knows for The Big Lagoon Rancheria commissioned the report, which concludes that there's room for a third casino on the Humboldt coast.
Big Lagoon, a 16-member tribe that owns and operates Hotel Arcata, still holds hopes of entering the gaming business although so far their plans have stalled.
Urban Systems suggests that hopland shokawah casino & bingo they did build a casino, they could pull in as much as 18 percent of the region's gaming revenue.
While Ervin admits that she does not know all the details of Blue Lake's plans, the big difference she sees between the two casinos is in financing.
We try to keep all of our business right here.
Just as Cher-Ae Heights is managed by the Trinidad Rancheria -- learn more here than an outside management group -- the casino in Blue Lake will also be managed by the tribe that owns it, the Blue Lake Rancheria.
But while Cher-Ae heights was originally built with money provided by a small group of individual investors, the Blue Lake facility is being financed through bank loans guaranteed in part by an Indian casino in Louisiana.
In an interview, Blue Lake Casino's chief financial officer Eric Ramos nonetheless emphasized the project's independence.
That's not the truth.
He has a business degree from Humboldt State University.
After graduation he went into the world of business.
When this project came online I ended up coming back.
In fact, the casino operation's chief executive officer, Arla Ramsey, is Ramos' mother.
Jason Ramos, chairman of the tribal gaming commission, is his twin brother.
Planning for the casino project started in mid-1999 and construction was begun two years later.
How big will it be?
It has 349 machines and 12 tables with Blackjack, Hi Gal, Let It Ride, Caribbean Stud, those types of card games.
Everyone pays a license fee for each machine, but when you go over 349, you also pay a percentage of net win on the machines, and that money goes into a revenue-sharing pool for all of the non-gaming tribes.
I believe the money also goes to pay for all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes to administer and regulate gaming.
The Hopland Sho-Ka-Wah Casino in Mendocino County, operated by the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, has more than 700 machines; that's small compared with some Indian casinos in southern California.
Of necessity, Blue Lake is starting small.
Our hope and our goal when we came out to build this is that we would have the nicest casino from the Bay Area north.
Instead of putting up the tin structure and building it into an elegant place later on, we're going to come out on the market with something that's really nice right out of the gate.
Alice's Restaurant, named for a founding member of the tribe, will offer a buffet, and there will be a fast-food area near the bingo hall.
Chief financial officer Eric Ramos and general manager Tom Frank in the Blue Lake Casino's Alice's Restaurant The tribe raised capital for the casino through a financing arrangement called a "loan syndication" in which a lead bank recruits other banks to put up money for a loan.
A complicating factor is that the Blue Lake Casino is located on an Indian reservation, which is essentially land held in trust by the federal government.
Because casino senior wednesday is not legally possible to put a lien on government property, the lead bank would not be able to foreclose on the casino should it fail.
That, in part, is atlantic city casino buses Blue Lake needed another entity -- the Coushatta tribe of Louisiana -- to guarantee the loan.
Many tribes avoid the complexities of arranging financing by signing a management agreement with an outside company.
For example, the Big Lagoon Rancheria worked on plans with at least two investor groups, including Gaming World, a division of Bally's, the company that operates four Caesar's casinos around the county.
In many cases, tribes will turn over operation of the casino to a management firm and just take a percentage of the profits.
But the flipside is, when you go with https://sellingonthenet.info/casino/new-elements-casino-in-surrey.html management group, they want a lot of money, either a percentage or some other fee basis.
Still, the tribe will not run the casino alone.
It has hired Tom Frank, a 15-year gaming industry veteran, to hopland shokawah casino & bingo the casino's general manager.
As for the Coushatta tribe, they run the Grand Casino near the border with Texas.
Ramos said "the Grand" is about 10 times bigger than the Blue Lake Casino.
Besides acting as a loan guarantor, the Coushatta will also train Blue Lake's blackjack dealers.
Ramos said the Blue Lake tribe is paying a fee he didn't specify how much to the Coushatta for the loan guarantee.
Blue Lake will also pay a fee for the blackjack training.
Fortunately for us, the Coushatta stepped up and offered help.
Because they're in the gaming business, it's easy for them to find a strategic partner in another tribe that's building a casino.
That's where our partnership came from.
People have to work to eat.
We're going to hire 300 folks locally.
Blue Lake Forest Products, right down the road from us, just went out of business.
Cher-Ae Heights is going to run specials so that the customer can play some other game or do something, and Blue Lake will have to turn around and offer the same special or https://sellingonthenet.info/casino/el-reno-casino-concerts.html better.
In the end the spirit of competition will foster a better environment please click for source provide more value to the customer.
That sounds clichéd, but it's the truth.
E-mail the Journal: © Copyright 2002, North Coast Journal, Inc.
New year at Graton Casino 2014
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