Isle of Capri the lone applicant for Cape casino license

Thursday, September 2, 2010

If the effort to bring a casino to Cape Girardeau succeeds, then the one that will bring it will be St. Louis-based Isle of Capri, the only gaming company that applied for a gaming license by Wednesday's deadline.

The other suitor, St. Louis Capital Partners LLC, announced during a private meeting with city officials an hour before the 5 p.m. cutoff that it would not be applying for a license with the Missouri Gaming Commission.

"An application will not be filed," said Joe Uram, a principal with St. Louis Capital Partners. "We wish the citizens of Cape Girardeau all the best. Cape is a beautiful city with a rich heritage, and we were pleased to have the opportunity to make so many new friends."

Uram declined to elaborate on the company's decision.

But Isle of Capri did turn in its application of more than 5,000 pages to the gaming commission and the required $50,000 application fee before the deadline, said Isle of Capri's communication director Jill Haynes.

"Everything is there that needs to be there," she said. "Now it's in the hands of the gaming commission. It's another important step in the process."

The application is literally "boxes and boxes" of information, Haynes said, and includes specifics about the project. The company is proposing to build the $125 million casino on more than 20 acres along North Main Street, partially on the former site of the Florsheim Shoe Factory, near the corner of Mill and North Main streets.

Isle of Capri's plans include room for 1,200 people to play slot machines and table games, restaurants, a bar and a 750-seat conference and entertainment venue.

"We're very pleased to be partners with Isle of Capri," Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger said. "They're a very professional company. I think they will give us an outstanding chance to get the license."

Cape Girardeau now has a deadline of Oct. 1 to submit information about the city to the Missouri Gaming Commission, Rediger said. The packet must include information about economic development, a revenue-sharing plan, casino endorsements and other data.

Also, the gaming commission will hold a public hearing at the River Campus on Sept. 27.

The Missouri Gaming Commission said Wednesday that five companies submitted applications, including Isle of Capri.

The others are: Casino Celebration LLC, which is proposing a facility for St. Louis; North County Development LLC, which wants to put a casino in the St. Louis suburb of Spanish Lake; Sunway Gaming LLC, which wants to locate a casino in the Kansas City suburb of Sugar Creek; and Epic Gaming LLC, which also wants to place a casino in Sugar Creek.

Cape Girardeau voters could make a casino a moot point in the Nov. 2 election in which the issue will be on the ballot. Opponents have formed a campaign committee and plan to lobby against it. Even after the election, it's up to the gaming commission to decide which community gets the gaming license.

That's why Haynes said it's important Isle of Capri works hard between now and the election.

"We need to continue to educate the public about the details of the casino, as we have been doing," she said. "We're going to be talking to a number of civic groups and other organizations in the coming weeks. Our goal is to become part of the community. We bring jobs, increase tax revenue, all that. But ultimately, our goal is to be a good neighbor."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

North Main Street, Cape Girardeau MO

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