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Indian tribes have concerns about Atlantic City market 5-1-07

By WAYNE PARRY
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - Indian tribes are successfully opening casinos around the country, but don't look for any in Atlantic City anytime soon.

The heads of three major tribal gambling companies all said Tuesday they have no plans to expand into New Jersey, citing high real estate prices and their own already busy expansion efforts.

Speaking during a break in the East Coast Gaming Congress, the heads of companies owned by the Mashantucket Pequot, Mohegan and Seminole tribes all said they have no plans to try to enter the Atlantic City market.

“At this point, no,” said John A. O'Brien, president of Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut. “We have no interest at all in pursuing anything in Atlantic City. We've got enough on our plate with Philadelphia” and other projects, he said.

The tribe recently won a casino license in Pennsylvania, which is expected to compete with Atlantic City for gamblers.

James Allen, the chief executive officer of Seminole Gaming, which operates gambling houses in Florida, including Hard Rock Cafe casinos in Hollywood and Tampa, also has no immediate plans to enter New Jersey.

“I think Atlantic City is a great market, but you have to be mindful of competition with Pennsylvania, and the high real estate values” in New Jersey, he said. “They have gone through the roof in the last two years.”

He said the Seminoles would consider one or more of the three Trump properties if they are placed up for sale, but the preliminary numbers he has heard in terms of potential prices are daunting.

“At this point, they're out of our ballpark,” he said.

Trump Entertainment Resorts has hired a financial firm to explore options for the company's three Atlantic City casinos, including a possible sale.

Mitchell Etess, president of the Mohegan Sun Resort Casino, also said his company has no short-term plans to enter Atlantic City. He shot down rumors that the company might be interested in buying Trump Marina Hotel Casino.

“We have not made an offer on the Trump Marina,” he said. “Although I did sleep there last night.”
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