Debt is becoming an increasingly serious problem in Indian Country with tribes that borrowed to build their casinos. But two refinancings announced last month could be light at the end of the tunnel.
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians recently signed a debt refinancing agreement for the Pearl River Resort in Neshoba County and the Bok Homa Casino in Jones County. Chief Phyliss J. Anderson and officials with Trustmark National Bank in Jackson, Mississippi, signed the agreement for a loan of $78 million at a 6 percent variable rate for five years.
“I didn’t know if we would be able to get this done in the first 100 days of office, but I pushed hard for the benefit of our tribal people,” said Anderson, who became chief last year in a contentious election.
Last summer, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded $200 million in securities borrowed by the Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise. In late 2011, the tribal enterprise was removed from the credit watch list after it received a six-month extension on loans owed.
Pearl River Resort encompasses the Silver Star Hotel and Casino, Golden Moon Entertainment Arena and Hotel, Bok Homa Casino, Dancing Rabbit Golf Course and Geyser Falls Water Theme Park.
The resort’s new promotion brands it as, “Pearl River Resort: It’s like Vegas with sweet tea.”
In Connecticut, the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which operates the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs for the Mohegan Tribe, announced last month that it has successfully refinanced its nearly $1 billion debt, giving the authority more time to pay back its creditors now that the economy is starting to rebound.
The due dates on the loan repayments were extended to 2016 and 2018. The notes were originally due starting in 2013. Besides refinancing the debt, the tribe also obtained a $225 million line of credit.
The tribe is still responsible for all of its debt, but it has been given more time to pay it back.