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Lawmakers move to stop President's closure

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – Two St. Louis-area lawmakers have introduced legislation that would block the Missouri Gaming Commission from shutting down the struggling President Casino.

The regulators are expected to vote on that recommendation at their meeting Wednesday, which Mayor Francis Slay calls "arbitrary, unsupportable, and illegal."

Commission executive director Gene McNary accuses the President's parent company, Pinnacle Entertainment, of keeping the casino open simply to preserve the license. The President has been hurt by the opening of another Pinnacle-owned casino, Lumiere Place, just yards away. The historic Admiral riverboat, which houses the President, is widely expected to fail a mandatory Coast Guard inspection in July.

The bill introduced today by Representative Tishaura Jones, and co-sponsored by House Speaker Ron Richard, would forbid the Gaming Commission from shutting down casinos for "inadequate declining performance." That's the exact phrase McNary used in a letter to Pinnacle's CEO.

The Gaming Commission ruled last year that Pinnacle could not move or upgrade the President without giving up and reapplying for the license. Pinnacle appealed that decision, and has added its own attempt to block closure to that case.