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IG: Undervalued coal leases cost US $62M

Jun. 12, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

BILLINGS, Mont. -- A government report says leases on publicly owned coal are undervalued and have cost the U.S. $62 million in potential lost revenues.

Tuesday's report from the Department of Interior Inspector General recommends that the government take quick action to strengthen its coal sales program to prevent further losses.

The report says undervaluing the fuel by even a penny per ton can result in millions of dollars in lost revenue.

About 40 percent of U.S. coal comes from federal lands, primarily in Western states.

In 2011 alone, those lands produced 473 million tons of the fuel. Most of that was burned in U.S. power plants, though more is being shipped overseas.

Concern that taxpayers are not getting their fair share of the proceeds has drawn increasing scrutiny from Congress.

MTR Gaming allows betting from tablets and smartphones

CHESTER, W.Va. -- MTR Gaming Group Inc. is letting customers use their smartphones and iPads to place bets on horse races.

MTR says it now has the mobile betting platform at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack & Resort in Chester, Scioto Downs in Columbus, Ohio, and Presque Isle Downs & Casino near Erie, Pa. When they are in specific areas of the facilities, customers can use their devices to bet on live or simulcast racing across the country.

Transactions take place over a secure network. Individuals must be 18 and provide legal identification to sign up for an account.

MTR Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Fred Buro says mobile gambling could help attract younger patrons to horse racing.

EEOC sues Dollar General, BMW plant

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing discount retailer Dollar General Corp., and a BMW manufacturing plant in South Carolina over their use of criminal background checks to screen out job applicants or fire employees.

The agency says the policies discriminate against African Americans. The two lawsuits filed Tuesday are the first since the agency revised its guidance last year to warn employers against overly broad criminal checks to screen workers.

The EEOC says the BMW policy doesn't consider the nature of the crimes or how old they are. It alleges that Dollar General fired one employee even though the conviction report about her was wrong.

Officials at BMW and Dollar General did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Yum says KFC's sales drop in China is easing

NEW YORK -- Yum Brands says a key sales figure for China dropped 19 percent in May, as the parent company of KFC began to see signs of recovery from the double whammy of a bird flu scare and an earlier controversy over its chicken supply.

The drop is an improvement from the 29 percent decline in April. The company said the latest figure reflects a 25 percent decline at KFC and 12 percent growth at Pizza Hut.

Yum Brands Inc. added that it expects sales at established restaurants to continue recovering over the course of the year and to turn positive in the fourth quarter. Although publicity around the bird flu continued to have a "significant, negative impact" in May, Yum noted that the impact of past cases of bird flu has been short-lived.

China is a critical region for Yum, which has benefited greatly from the country's rapid economic expansion in recent years. The company, based in Louisville, Ky., is the biggest Western fast-food operator in the country with 5,300 locations, most of them KFC restaurants. In 2012, Yum raked in more than half its total sales from China.