The Dallas Morning News chronicles the Chickasaw Nation’s rise from a cash-strapped tribe in south-central Oklahoma in the early 1990s to the evolution of its business empire, anchored by WinStar World Casino—the third largest casino in the world that generates more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue, of which 90 to 95 percent comes from Texan clientele.
Now the Chickasaws seek to close the deal on their purchase of the bankrupt Lone Star Park racetrack in Grand Prairie, the largest track in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Global Gaming Solutions, a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, inked a deal to buy the racetrack in October 2009. Final approval from the Texas Racing Commission is expected in the next few months.
Presently owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., the horse track ate money for years. And Global Gaming anticipates the track will continue losing money, an estimated $52.95 million from 2011 through 2015, even while the tribe pumps another $42 million into it—after the initial $47.8 million investment. The tribe estimates it will spend a total of $100 million on the track in the next five years.
Despite a major investment in the nationally struggling racino industry, Dallas News describes Global Gaming’s CEO John Elliott as “buoyantly optimistic.”
Perhaps that’s because this wouldn’t be the first time Global Gaming pulled a racino out of economic despair. It revitalized Lone Star’s sister racetrack Remington Park in Oklahoma City in its first year of operation with a 15 percent revenue increase—a feat that garnered media notice. “What we did defied any national statistic you would care to get your hands on,” Elliott told the Dallas News. “The Remington Park story proves that we can do it. There has been a lot of carnage in the entertainment/gaming market, lots of stories of excess debt and corporate collapses not just in the commercial markets but also in the Native American markets. We on the other hand have a parent that is very politically stable, commercially strong, financially strong.”
While Elliott insists the the tribe is not banking on it, a proposal to Texas law to allow casinos (considered a strong possibility by 2013) “could mean that the Chickasaws are sitting on one of the richest potential entertainment assets in the country,” Dallas News reported.
The proposed state constitutional amendment drafted by Rep. Mike Hamilton, R-Mauriceville and chairman of the House Licensing and Administrative Procedures Committee, would authorize at least seven other casinos in Texas and permit gambling at Indian reservations and slot machines at racetracks, reported the The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram.
“Lone Star will work without a casino,” Elliot told Dallas News, then added with a smile: “It won’t work as well. But it will work.”
The Chickasaw Nation is reportedly also considering applying for a license to build a racetrack in Amarillo, Texas.