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Pennsylvania

Majestic Star owner 'not worried'

| Wednesday, June 11, 2008

HARRISBURG -- The cost of the planned North Shore casino has risen, and owner Don Barden still does not have enough money in place to finish construction, his spokesman said this morning.

Barden said he's "not worried" about getting the money when he spoke to members of the state Gaming Control Board at their regular monthly meeting today. He still expects to open the Majestic Star Casino in May 2009.

"It's moving along at just a terrific pace," Barden told the board, adding that he could not provide specifics on his attempts to secure financing.

Board members asked few questions. Member Ray Angeli wanted to know whether Barden is concerned that a lack of permanent financing could slow down or halt construction. Barden started construction last year after obtaining a bridge loan that was set to expire in May. Barden has declined to say how he's managed to keep work going past the deadline.

Barden answered that all of the steel is on the 17-acre site and that 65 percent of it already is in place.

Construction costs have been driven in part by the soaring price of concrete, said spokesman Bob Oltmanns. The cost of the casino has been pegged at $780 million.

"Lenders are extremely cautious in this environment," Oltmanns said.

He added that Barden had told gambling board staff that he would have few details. Barden told board members he expects to have a financing plan in place before the board's next meeting on July 10.

Christopher Wink is an intern with the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents Association.

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