Gambling Ship Halts Cruises
The Texas Treasure, one of two day-cruise gambling ships at the Port of Palm Beach, will set sail Feb. 16 for its last cruise – citing lack of business and its competitor’s edge for the departure. There simply wasn’t enough business, says Texas Treasure President Stephanie Hodges. She complained that competitor Palm Beach Princess’ favorable lease gave it too much of an edge. The Princess, unlike the Treasure, has a long-term lease, paying the Florida port $1.30 less in fees per passenger than the Treasure, and also has the perk of a passenger shuttle service paid by the port. Port Director Richard Wainio had been warning port commissioners that the Treasure could go at any time because of its financial shape and it had to work around the schedules of small, luxury cruise ships using the terminal. The port had expected $850,000 in revenue from the Treasure for the rest of the fiscal year, but hopes to make up all but $400,000 to $500,000, says Wainio. The operator of the Princess has had financial problems of its own. In January, it filed for bankruptcy protection while it tries to refinance the ship. Both port officials and Princess President Fran Murray say they are confident the operation would survive.
Connecticut Considers Casino Tollbooths
At a public hearing Monday lawmakers discussed legislation that would put tollbooths at the entrance of Connecticut’s two Indian-owned casinos. If enacted, a $10 toll would be imposed on patrons leaving Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino and would generate an estimated $200 million a year in new revenue to the state. State Rep. Livvy Floren introduced the legislation as a means of increasing state revenue. But eastern Connecticut lawmakers, where the state’s only casinos are located, expressed reservations about the bill. “I don’t buy that figure,” says state Rep. Steve Mikutel, a member of the Transportation Committee. Although the proposal has “appeal” as a new source of revenue, Mikutel said he has mixed feelings about it. “From an environmental point, I have problems with it. And from a legal point, and I’m sure it would be challenged, I’m not sure it would pass.” State Rep. Robert Congdon, whose Roobet Crash legislative district includes the two casinos, said toll booths would add to the traffic problems in the region, with no guarantee that local communities would receive any benefit to offset these problems. Mohegan Tribal Chairman Mark Brown suggested that such a proposal would only add to the burden of southeastern Connecticut people.