Cape Girardeau man loses appeal against casino measure

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Missouri appeals court rejected a Cape Girardeau businessman's challenge to a ballot measure passed in November that eliminated the loss limit at Missouri casinos, limited the number of casino licenses and raised taxes on casino profits.

In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel of the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals on Tuesday turned away constitutional concerns raised by David Knight, owner of Ole Hickory Pits and a partner in a potential Cape Girardeau casino boat. The decision upheld a ruling in Cole County Circuit Court that was issued before voters approved the casino measure, which was Proposition A on the November ballot.

In his lawsuit, Knight had sought to scuttle Proposition A on the grounds that the ballot title was misleading, that it failed to meet the legal forms required and that it included more than one subject in violation of the Missouri Constitution.

Along with eliminating the loss limit and raising the tax on casino profits, Proposition A directed that additional revenue realized as a result of those changes should go to public schools and established a method for distributing the money and auditing whether it was used properly as an addition to education spending. The measure limited on the number of casino licenses to 13, the number already issued by the date of the election.

Knight argued that because it included so many issues, the measure included more than one subject. Those arguments were rejected by the trial court and again at the appellate court level.

"Proposition A effected multiple changes in the regulation of Missouri gaming, provided for a fund for gambling revenues, and directed how those gambling funds are to be managed and used," wrote Chief Judge Thomas H. Newton. "Consequently, the trial court did not err in finding that the measure's central purpose was the regulation of gambling and gambling revenues."

Knight was joined in his challenge to the law by Rep. Ray Salva, D-Sugar Creek, who represents a town in Jackson County that was also seeking a riverboat casino when the submission of Proposition A caused the Missouri Gaming Commission to impose a moratorium on new licenses.

For more information, check back at or read Wednesday's Southeast Missourian.

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