I’m not liking these odds.

Here’s some facts that we know:

  • Don Barden is delaying plans for construction of an outdoor amphitheater and boat dock at his North Shore casino and is altering the look of a riverfront promenade, all in a bid to save money. The proposed changes drew a rebuke from the Riverlife Task Force, which maintained that Mr. Barden was cutting corners on amenities that sold the state Gaming Control Board on his project and won him the city’s sole slots license.
  • Work on the North Shore slots parlor came to a halt yesterday after Don Barden failed to come up with $10 million needed to keep construction going, even as he announced he had secured a $120 million investment in the project from a company headed by a Chicago billionaire and fellow casino owner.
  • The heavy borrowing by Mr. Barden had been a concern of Wall Street credit rating agencies and forced the Detroit businessman to put his Fitzgerald’s casino in Las Vegas up for sale to raise $35 million to invest in his North Shore slots parlor.
  • He noted one of his concerns is that with the $120 million investment replacing Apollo’s $150 million loan, Mr. Barden still appears to be $30 million short of the $780 million he said he needed to complete the casino’s financing.
  • The losses are piling up for Don Barden’s casinos in Indiana, Mississippi and Colorado.
  • In an annual report filed Friday, Majestic Star Casino LLC reported $26.1 million in losses last year and claimed $556.7 million in debt, leaving it with very little cash to upgrade its properties to better compete.

I’d like to know:

1.  I’d like to know if it’s too late to give the license to Franco or Mario or you know, anyone with actual money or at least the ability to get their hands on actual money.

2.  I’d like to know why they picked Don Barden in the first place.  I mean, really why.  Not the fake reasons.  The REAL reasons.   Like specifically, I would like to know who he has dirty pictures of.


  1. bucdaddy
    July 2, 2008 9:35 am

    You have to be a real idiot to go broke in the gambling economy.

    And: Barnum was right, suckers.

  2. BobM
    July 2, 2008 9:39 am

    One simple reason he was selected – affirmative action. For political correctness sake one of the casino licenses had to go to a person of color and they had only one to choose from.

  3. unsatisfied
    July 2, 2008 9:52 am

    all I can say is, “HA!”

  4. John
    July 2, 2008 10:09 am

    The casino at the Meadows is virtually packed all of the time, and it’s in an overglorified tent. Yet, Barden’s casinos are losing money. That should tell you all you need to know about Don Barden. A friend of mine went to one of his casinos in Indiana and said it was nasty, dirty and poorly run. Why pick a) Harrah’s, which is in the casino business or b) Isle of Capri which was gonna build us an arena when you can pick c) the affirmative action candidate who is in debt and runs sub-standard casinos. Good job by the gaming board.

  5. joey
    July 2, 2008 10:17 am

    I fail to understand why they just can’t put slots in a warehouse. I mean, all the gray-hairs are just going to go and push the flashing buttons…why even bother with the billion-dollar building.

    At least this whole thing is quite entertaining to watch crater.

  6. DW
    July 2, 2008 10:22 am

    Barden may up missing like Hoffa if he doesn’t pay up soon…we’ll be looking for barrels in the north shore connector.

  7. lovesthenorthside
    July 2, 2008 10:55 am

    ok. i told you not to get me started on this pox on the north shore, but nooooo…

    the whole deal sucks. it sucks to look at this on a daily basis, and it will suck harder when it opens and the city has to deal with the classy clientele it draws. it sucks that the revenue won’t benefit our schools. it sucks that pittsburgh was wooed by offers of a bike path and a river dock. and it sucks that we the city of pittsburgh will pay for this colossal mistake, while onorato, ravenstahl and barden walk away with their donkey omelets intact.

    speaking of intact donkey omelets, did you see this?


  8. Sean
    July 2, 2008 11:57 am

    I don’t want to defend them, but Onorato and Ravenstahl had nothing to do with picking Barden. That incompetent gaming board appointed by state people did. Let’s blame Dan and Lukey when thay actually screw up and not just make stuff up about them ok. Right now they should be doing what they can to help Barden and get this done. It’s taking too long and the only people hurting are the poeple here. I might be wrong, but if I remember correctly, neither of them endorsed barden’s bid. It should have been IOC, but it isn’t. Harrah’s is a great gaming company with a proven record, but Station Square is a terrible place for the casino. It’s already a mess down there. I don’t mind the North Shore location, and i don’t see what can be done about Barden now anyway. Did he hide his problems? Are they new problems, or did teh board not do their job properly? Probably a combination. Somehow, someway he needs to be forced to get his act together. I don’t have the answers. Incentives? Penalties? I don’t know, but this needs to be done.

  9. Dan (Not Onarato)
    July 2, 2008 12:01 pm

    I agree with Sean on this. The Gaming Board made the decision not Onorato or Lukey.

    Im not sure but can we blame Fast Eddie? Did he set up the boards?

    Just wondering

  10. Brian
    July 2, 2008 12:08 pm

    Yes, the gaming board was pretty much hand-picked by Ed “I talk like a gravely muppet” Rendell. What an incompetent boob, or should I say man-boob considering the meaty flesh pockets that guy sports on his ample chest. I posted this the other day:

    I know this is entirely off the subject, but can we all agree that giving Don Barden the casino license was the biggest fucking mistake ever? Now he’s scaling back the amphitheater and a dock. This was just a terrible, terrible decision. What a dumb-ass decision. Most of his enterprise is hemmorhaging money, yet he gets the license. How stupid. Stupid. Stupid. This casino may never get built.

  11. retiredguy
    July 2, 2008 12:23 pm

    As others have stated, the gaming board selected him, which means he was hand picked by Edward G. Rendell. The gaming board, like most everything else in PA is a bastion of cronyism, nepotism and good old fashioned corruption (think Turnpike Commission). You just gotta know that Barden, being the most fly-by-night casino operator probably came up off of the most kick-backs, jobs for retarded nephews, no show job, campaign contributions, “junkets”, etc., etc. It also doesn’t hurt that PA has the largest, most expensive, do nothing, impotent legislature in the country and that Pittsburgh has zero effective leadership, or that Pittsburgh has always been and always be the poor sister of Philadelphia.


  12. atl burger
    July 2, 2008 12:23 pm

    I agree with Brian and BobM…this was the biggest f*ing mistake (sorry trying to clean up my language) and I believe a lot of the decision was based on affirmative action.

    The only plus side to this is that those idiots on “The Hill” who are forcing the city to give them something out the north shore re-development/arena project (which I do not think they deserve) are getting binged by one of their own.

    Pittsburgh is well on it’s way to becoming the next Philth-adelphia with all the free hand outs and continued support and bending over backwards for those who don’t deserve it while taxing the hell out the hard working people of Pittsburgh.

  13. sallyslot
    July 2, 2008 12:24 pm

    hm is it just my computer or does that picture of barden ravenstahl and onorato look like they all wet their pants? laughing too hard.
    i am against the casino. Its not just that it is an addictive vice and often draws less that savory characters (then again so do drinking and bars) but has anyone seen the area around the seneca niagara casino in niagara falls?? awful. completely dilapidated. was it like the before the casino moved in? i don’t know, but it sure hasn’t helped. i hear wheeling wv is the same.

  14. Sofa King
    July 2, 2008 12:50 pm

    Sally, Wheeling has been a pit for years, the casino had nothing to do with it. IN some areas, like Detroit, the casinos have actually done a considerable amount to spur economic development. Many other areas that I’ve traveled to where casinos are present are quite nice, so I think it’s a little short-sighted to base part of your judgment on two limited examples.

    I wholeheartedly agree that Barden was the worst candidate by far to get the slots license in Pittsburgh. I haven’t liked or trusted the guy since I first read about him. What a disaster.

    Unfortunately, atl burger, I think the irony of the situation will be lost on the “idiots on the hill.” They’ll blame everybody from city council to the media for not getting what they want before they blame the actual culprit…one of their own.

  15. Bram R
    July 2, 2008 12:54 pm

    To answer your questions, PG:

    1. He could always sell it. He’s been selling little chunks of it for quite a while now.

    2. Don’t underestimate traffic. Don’t underestimate legit community opposition. But yeah. It seemed like a choice that most people would like.

    Thought bubbles: Dan – “I’m awesome.” Luke – “He’s awesome.”

  16. parking chair
    July 2, 2008 1:24 pm

    Thoguth bubbles:

    DAN: When is thing thing over? I have an eyebrow waxing in 20 minutes.

    DON: They’re buying it! ALL of it! Mwahahaha!

    LUKEY: What’s his name, again? Damn, I should have written it on my hand. But Stupid Erin had to take away my Sharpies.

    I TOLD her I wouldn’t write on the kitchen table again. It was just that one time.

  17. Ex-Pat Pittsburgh Girl
    July 2, 2008 1:31 pm

    While I’m not a big fan of Ed and hate jumping to his defense on this, but the Governor only appoints three members to the gaming board. The other four are appointed by the leaders of the legislative caucuses. So when these guys were appointed, Dems appointed 5 members and Republicans appointed 2; or another way of looking at it — Philly got 4 (Rendell and Prezel), Altoona got 1 (Jubeliere), Scranton got 1 (Mellow) and Southwestern PA got 1 (DeWeese). Regardless, they did a crappy job reviewing the applications. I guess one bright point is that for the stand-alones, at least ground has been broken in Pittsburgh.

  18. Dan (Not Onarato)
    July 2, 2008 1:47 pm

    Isnt Jerome Bettis part of Bardens group for the casino?

  19. V
    July 2, 2008 2:59 pm

    Wow, what a picture…3 of the 4 horsemen, well at least 2 and a puppet – you pick

  20. Dan
    July 2, 2008 3:55 pm

    I have to ask, is Barden obligated to follow through with his initial proposal? If so then why not just require that he build the amphitheater and other proposed amenities or risk having the selection changed to Harrah’s or IOC?

    The plan also called for a green roof, initially. I bet that got scrapped too.

  21. JW
    July 2, 2008 5:27 pm

    Don’t forget about this. Just another example of our elected,and appointed officials screwing us again, and again…
    – “The former head of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will be paid a total of $120,000 over the next four months even though she no longer works for the agency.
    That $120,000 includes a newly disclosed $60,000 severance payment that she will receive in the fall.

    Anne LaCour Neeb, who resigned her post two weeks ago citing family reasons, will earn the money between now and October, according to a copy of her contract and separation agreement made public yesterday.

    While the board’s executive director, Neeb made $180,000 annually. Her last day on the job was Friday.”

  22. Ravishing Rick
    July 2, 2008 5:34 pm

    Dewey-Dickem & Howe
    Dewey-Cheatum& Howe

  23. Anthony
    July 2, 2008 7:54 pm

    What’s Dan doing there with his right hand?

  24. unsatisfied
    July 2, 2008 8:44 pm

    hmm, I always thought that it was:

    dewey, screwem & howe.

  25. Matt H
    July 2, 2008 11:08 pm

    The selection of Barden is looking like a pretty bad choice at this point!

  26. Dean J
    July 3, 2008 10:30 am

    I always am hellishly curious… if you’re putting a casino into a town, and get to choose the owners, why the f*ck don’t you choose owners who live locally, and will spend the profits locally?

  27. Ravishing Rick
    July 3, 2008 8:54 pm


  28. bucdaddy
    July 4, 2008 12:27 am

    Danny O scratching at fleas he got from lying down with dogs.

  29. jfp
    July 6, 2008 4:44 pm

    This is actually a typical strategy that developers use, if you look around it happens everywhere:

    1. Promise some sort of community enhancement in order to get a project approved.
    2. Complain about funding problems and tell the community it will either have to scale back the enhancement or they’ll have to chip in some money for it.
    3. Local politicians, not wanting to deal with the mess of an abandoned development project, usually cave to the developer.
    4. Go to step two.

    It’s a cost reducing system that works on the principle that politicians are spineless.

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