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New Mexican tribe struggles with debt

7 July 2008

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- As reported by the Albuquerque Journal: "More than three years after the Mescalero Apaches opened their new Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino near Ruidoso, the resort has struggled with financial losses and the tribe faces a mountain of debt.

"But tribal officials are optimistic despite the losses, management shake-ups and a $200 million debt that comes due in 2010.

"The tribe's 273-room luxury resort below snow-capped Sierra Blanca, along with a casino sparkling with nearly 1,000 slot machines, is the centerpiece of tribal economic development.

"The resort and casino operation has sustained net losses of $28.4 million from May 2005 to the end of January, according to financial statements filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

"...Its last report, covering the fiscal year's third quarter ending Jan. 31, showed the 4,000-member tribe's inn, gaming operations and recreational programs sustained a net loss of $4.3 million on $28.9 million in revenue.

"...The Inn's occupancy rate averaged 76 percent for the nine months that ended Jan. 31, but fell to 61 percent in the third quarter. Net gaming revenue amounted to $16.8 million in the third quarter, a 5-percent increase over the corresponding period in the previous year.

"...The Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino, or IMG, has generated net profits in only three of the 11 quarters since the rebuilt resort and casino opened in 2005.

"...Mescalero is unusual among Indian casino operations in that it reports these financial details publicly. Because the $200 million in notes were offered for public sale, the tribe must file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission."

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