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Foxwoods, Sun Report Higher Slot Revenues

June 19, 2008

Connecticut’s two casinos are reporting that their slot machine revenues increased in May after an eight-month decline. Foxwoods Resort Casino was bolstered by the opening of MGM Grand at Foxwoods. It saw a nearly 8-percent increase in its slot win compared with May of last year. Mohegan Sun says its net gain crept up two-tenths of a percent. Slot win is the money left after the machines pay out any winnings to bettors. Foxwoods earned nearly $73 million from its slots last month, while Mohegan Sun banked $75 million. Foxwoods’ owners, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, had 247 more slot machines on their properties in May than in the same month last year. Foxwoods and the MGM Grand now have more than 7,400 slot machines combined. Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan tribe, has more than 5,900 machines, 31 more than last year. The casinos gave the state nearly $37 million in May. They’re required under state gaming compacts to contribute 20 percent of their slot revenues.

Reed intervenes in clam survey

The National Marine Fisheries Service has decided to fund a survey of surf clams and ocean quahogs after U.S. Sen. Jack Reed interceded to get money allocated for the study. Reed contacted an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration earlier this week to make a case for once again conducting the study, which has been done every three years since 1978. The fisheries service, a part of NOAA, had dropped this year’s study to save money. The Atlantic clam survey is used to establish stock levels of surf clams and quahogs and forms the basis for setting quotas for the allowable catch. “Clams and quahogs play an important role in Rhode Island’s economy and this study plays an important role in determining how much Rhode Island fishermen can haul in,” Reed said. “I am pleased they reconsidered and will now go forward with this important study.” The survey is scheduled to go ahead later this month, as originally planned.

Providence hosts college professionals

About 370 college and university career-development professionals and employer recruiters from Maine to Virginia convened yesterday at the Biltmore Hotel in Providence to discuss trends in employer/ university relationships, best practices and student needs in a changing economy. The event, sponsored by the Eastern Association of Colleges and Employers, included workshops on topics ranging from the impact of technology on job searches, to understanding the millennial generation’s perspective about careers, to recruiting trends. “Providence is a logical choice as the conference host city,” said Tom Tarantelli, president of EACE, “and we’re excited to be here. The area is home to several quality higher education institutions and employers and it really embodies the spirit of opportunity and potential, which is what we try to instill in students, employers and members.”

Navy secretary tours Bath Iron Works

Navy Secretary Donald Winter came to Bath Iron Works in Maine on Tuesday to see shipyard upgrades amid growing questions in Washington over the future of the next-generation Zumwalt-class destroyer, an important project for shipbuilders. Sen. Susan Collins invited the Navy secretary to get a firsthand look at improvements including its Ultra Hall, which allows shipbuilders to put together larger hull segments in a climate-controlled facility. The facility was built with the Zumwalt in mind. But the Zumwalt program itself is in question. Contracts have been awarded for construction of only two ships, including one in Bath. Critics in the U.S. House have threatened to scuttle funding for a third ship, putting it at odds with a spending proposal in the Senate. And Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi has floated a proposal to build more of the current Arleigh Burke destroyers.

Law repeals planned jump in gas tax

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell came to a Waterbury gas station Tuesday to sign legislation repealing a planned July 1 gas tax increase. The new law, which takes effect immediately, is also intended to make it easier for gas stations to offer discounts to customers who use cash instead of credit cards to fill their tanks. The state’s gross receipts tax on petroleum products, a levy on wholesale earnings from gas sales, had been slated to climb from 7 to 7.5 percent on July 1. Gas station dealers predicted the increase, which would have generated $25 million for the state, would have boosted gas prices by up to 5 cents per gallon.

iRobot Corp. awarded research project

Bedford, Mass.-based iRobot Corp. has announced that the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army Research Office have awarded the company a new multi-year, multimillion-dollar research and development project to develop chemical robots (ChemBots). The goal is to develop a soft, flexible, mobile robot that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than its actual structural dimensions to perform tasks within complex and highly cluttered environments. The company will lead a team of technical experts from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to incorporate advances in chemistry, materials science, actuator technologies, electronics, sensors and fabrication techniques into ChemBots engineering.

Utility accused of overcharging

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and the Office of Consumer Counsel accused Connecticut Natural Gas on Tuesday of overcharging customers and asked regulators to reduce its billing rate. The utility received nearly $14 million more in profit in the year that ended April 30 than the level set by regulators, said Blumenthal and the Office of Consumer Counsel. “We’re contending they overcharged their customers because they had excess earnings,” Blumenthal said of the utility, which has about 155,000 customers in central Connecticut.

Village NetMedia buys Maine weeklies

Village NetMedia Inc., of Camden, Maine, is buying six weekly newspapers in the state in a deal that will be completed by month’s end, the company announced Tuesday. The company will buy the papers from Courier Publications, a subsidiary of Crescent Publishing Co. in Greenville, S.C. Financial details were not released. The papers are the Courier Gazette in Rockland, the Camden Herald, the Republican Journal and Waldo Independent in Belfast, the Bar Harbor Times and the Capital Weekly in Augusta. The deal also includes Courier Publications’ printing operation in Rockland. Village NetMedia owns two community newspapers and operates the VillageSoup “virtual town square” Web sites.

Sugarbush will pay $18,980 fine

Sugarbush Ski Resort near Warren, Vt., has agreed to pay an $18,980 fine for violating federal regulations that require it to keep records on hazardous chemicals stored on its land. In a February 2007 inspection of the ski area, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inspectors found that Sugarbush had failed to file paperwork identifying propane, diesel fuel, gasoline, sodium hypochlorite, aluminum sulfate and other hazardous chemicals it had on site. The filings were required because the ski resort is located on federally owned National Forest land.

FAA provides funds to five airports

New Hampshire Senators Judd Gregg and John Sununu say that five airports in the state have received a total of $2 million in funds from the Federal Aviation Administration for repair and construction projects. The money is going to Dillant-Hopkins Airport in Keene; Mount Washington Regional Airport; Claremont Municipal Airport; Nashua Airport-Boire Field; and Con

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