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Gaming commission meeting hears two more applications

The crowd at Tuesday's meeting of the Missouri Gaming Commission.
(Adam Allington, St. Louis Public Radio)
The crowd at Tuesday's meeting of the Missouri Gaming Commission.

By Adam Allington / St. Louis Public Radio

ST. LOUIS – Two Mississippi River casino applications were opened up for public comment at a meeting of the state gaming commission in St. Louis on Tuesday.

Chris Spurgeon is the City Administrator for the City of St. Charles, home of the Ameristar Casino.

Spurgeon said that gaming revenues are already down region-wide and adding another competitor will only hurt other communities.

"The city has become heavily dependent upon those casino revenues, just as we have sales tax, property tax and utility taxes, and all of those revenues in every community are down right now because of the economy," Spurgeon said, " An additional competitor in the already-saturated St. Louis market will only erode the city's revenues even further."

Supporters of the projects point to job creation as well as bringing gaming revenue over from Illinois.

Rodney Crim is the Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation. Crim said that the $130 million project would generate close to $11 million in tax revenue for the city.

"As we all know the 13th license is the replacement for the President Casino license," Crim said, "That license should stay in the city. The jobs and the tax revenues should stay in the city. The jobs and the tax revenues should stay in the city."

Missouri Gaming Commission Chairman Jim Mathewson said that he's waiting for a Department of Economic Development study, scheduled to arrive next month, before any decision is made about awarding a new casino license.

"We believe that the economic development report that we get will be very conclusive about who wins and who loses where you put another casino in the state of Missouri," Matthewson said.

Two of the four casino applications before the commission are located in the St. Louis region, both within three miles of each other, but under different governing authorities. Proponents of a Spanish Lake casino touted its job-creating potential. The Chain of Rocks site advocates point to its prime location next to I-270, and its non-wetland status.

Other applicants include an Isle of Capri application in Cape Girardeau and Paragon Gaming's proposed site in the Kansas City suburb of Sugar Creek. Voters in Cape Girardeau have yet to weigh in on whether they will allow gambling in their town.