Casino renovation in $145M loan
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 12:00 AM
A resolution to borrow up to $145 million to renovate the Silver Star Hotel and Casino, reactivate the Golden Moon Casino and possibly build a new casino in Leake County was approved by the Choctaw Tribal Council Thursday morning.
After a contentious discussion, the resolution was approved with only one dissension.
Chief Phyliss J. Anderson said the Tribe plans to spend about $88.1 million over the next two years.
That spending includes:
$32.3 million for new slot machines and upkeep;
$22.4 million for the hotels;
$7.6 million to reactivate the Golden Moon;
$7 million to refinance the Dancing Rabbit Inn;
$18.8 million for a proposed casino in Red Water in Leake County that would require further Tribal Council approval.
The loan also came with a 25 percent reduction in the interest rate, which is now at 4 percent, saving the Tribe $1.2 million, Anderson said.
The loan was anticipated to be signed in early January.
"With this new refinance package the Tribe will save millions of dollars in interest payments," said Tribal Chief Phyliss J. Anderson.
"Renovating Silver Star and reactivating Golden Moon are vital to our continued success and cannot be delayed. Our tribal members expect us to be successful and this is the path to success.
"This project has been in the development stages for more than a year and utilized workshops, financial planning sessions and market research studies performed by Pro Forma Advisors, LLC out of Hartford, Conn., in order to make an informed decision to proceed."
Anderson told the Tribal Council that she has made all available information about the proposed Red Water facility available to the entire council and that every member had been invited to a variety of workshops concerning the possible construction.
"I have given you all the information," she said. "Nothing has been kept from you. I vowed when I took office to never treat the council like how I was treated."
Despite the resolution receiving a nearly 100 percent approval vote from the Tribal Council, the discussion was more heated with many council members questioning the decision.
Councilman Kevin Edwards asked repeatedly if an amendment could be added to the resolution saying no funds would be spent on Red Water until further studies had been completed.
After over an hour he received a "yes" response and the amendment was added and approved.
As a rebuttal to the possibility of building in Red Water, Councilman Robert Briscoe asked whether the Bogue Homa facility could be expanded with gaming tables and amenities.
In response, members of the Tribal Gaming Commission said Bogue Homa would likely receive new additions in the near future.
Since 2011, when Chief Anderson took office, the resort's profitability has increased, as well as its payments to the Tribal general fund.
"This entire proposal is essential to maintaining the level of tribal employment and income that tribal members have come to rely upon," said Chief Anderson.
"The proposed expansion in the Red Water community would capture the growing market in the metro-Jackson area that the current facilities do not."
The proposed new casino would create 170 jobs.