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Gaming news briefs for April 2, 2004

Adjournment delayed

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Lawmakers, once optimistic about adjourning the session as early as next week, abandoned that thought Thursday as a gambling agreement dissolved, leaving a big hole in the state budget.

"It's another bump in the road and we'll have to take care of that bump," Senate Majority Leader Stewart Iverson, R-Dows, said.

Racetrack casinos challenged the constitutionality of the state's two-tiered taxing system and won. As a result, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the state owed the racetracks about $160 million in back taxes.

The House reached an agreement with the racetracks in which they agreed to forgo the back taxes in exchange for a 24 percent tax rate and permission to add table games, such as poker, to their casinos.

The House passed the bill and sent it to the Senate, where some senators tried to re-negotiate that tax rate to 27 percent saying the House calculation was off and left an $18 million hole in the state's budget that funds environmental programs.

The racetracks, including Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona, refused to agree to a higher tax rate.

The gambling issue must be resolved before lawmakers can finally approve a budget because land conservation programs use millions of dollars in revenue from taxes paid by casinos.

Shareholder lawsuits dismissed

A Clark County District Court judge has dismissed two separate lawsuits filed by shareholders last year against the Riviera's board of directors for allegedly thwarting a bid to buy out the Las Vegas hotel-casino.

Paul Rosa and Brian Placzek sued the board of Riviera casino parent Riviera Holdings Corp. in Clark County District Court, saying members failed to adequately consider bids for the property. Those bids included a buyout offer last year from Italian investor Fabrizio Boccardi.

The suits were dismissed late last year "with prejudice," meaning the shareholders may not file again.

IGT undecided about rejoining group

The Gaming Standards Association, a group of more than 60 major slot machine makers and casino companies, has created a new class of membership to allow companies to become members without complying with the group's patent policy.

The association aims to create a series of standard technologies relating to how slot machines communicate with back-office systems, replacing the myriad systems created by different manufacturers that can't communicate with each other.

The membership opens the door to companies such as International Game Technology, which dropped out of the group last year along with a few other competitors over a dispute with the patent policy, GSA President Peter DeRaedt said. The policy requires companies to disclose relevant patents and make them available to competitors for a reasonable cost.

The membership class creates a middle ground by allowing companies to license the standard technology for free but also prevents companies from participating in the decision-making process, DeRaedt said.

IGT Vice President of Marketing Ed Rogich said the company is aware of the new GSA membership but hasn't yet decided whether to rejoin the group.

Police close casino

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Authorities shut down a tribal-owned casino in the city's downtown this morning, and were preparing to remove more than 150 gambling machines.

State and local officials announced last Thursday the National Indian Gaming Commission had determined the casino was operating illegally.