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Spa Casino Seen as Catalyst

7 November 2003

PALM SPRINGS, California – As reported by the (Palm Springs) Desert Sun: "Keith McCormick's car-dealership colleagues in Las Vegas tell of high-rolling customers dropping by their lots, flush with their winnings from nearby casinos.

"…While the tribal-owned operation has always been good for foot traffic at his thriving business -- if not jackpot-fueled sales of classic Packards and Thunderbirds -- McCormick has bigger-picture hopes for what the newly opened casino will do for a part of downtown that has seen better days.

"…In fact, the expectation of the casino's owner, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, as well as local economic development experts, is that the casino will give new momentum to the entire downtown scene, which is a major driver of Palm Springs' economy. It should also give the Coachella Valley added bragging rights when competing with other resorts for tourists and corporate business.

"…Like other valley-based tribes, the band does not release revenue figures, and is not making public predictions as to how much cash the new casino will generate. But casino operators say -- and economic development leaders agree -- that the decidedly upscale nature of the casino will make it a catalyst for significant new business activity.

"Already, tribal council Chairman Richard M. Milanovich points to the 1,000 construction jobs that were created by the Spa Resort project. And the completed casino has added at least 200 staff jobs, bringing to more than 2,300 the total number employed by the tribe at its two valley casinos, making it among the valley's largest non-government employers.

"…Observers note that the casino's upscale nature by itself will make it a big draw for the downtown area in years to come. Several experts said it will be a good complement to the existing shopping and dining venues lining Palm Canyon Drive, creating increased pedestrian traffic between the casino and downtown retail areas.

"Jerry Ogburn, director of the Downtown Development Center and manager of the downtown merchants association, said there could also be significant spillover effect for hotels and resorts located along both Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon.

"…Gary Sherwin, a vice president with the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Convention and Visitors Authority, said the upscale new casino will give the city, and in turn the valley, another ace when it competes against other communities that have tribal gaming operations…"

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