A casino endorsement

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Last week's St. Louis Business Journal, in an editorial, recommended Cape Girardeau for the casino license that's up for grabs.

Even though two St. Louis casino applications are among the final four (the fourth is in Sugar Creek near Kansas City), the editorial lists the Business Journal's reasons why Cape Girardeau should be picked:


We're all for economic development of the St. Louis region unless, of course, it undermines existing business or threatens the way of life we cherish.

Which is exactly what would happen if the last gaming license in the state was given to build a St. Louis casino.

The Missouri gaming commission expects to issue the license by year's end following hearings across the state at the end of September.

There are two sites under consideration in this region, one near the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers that threatens one of the most important natural habitats in the nation and the other near the Chain of Rocks bridge.

Both threaten to "cannibalize" existing casino revenue in the region, according to a recent study by Saint Louis University accounting professor John McGowan. You don't need a degree in accounting to draw that conclusion, say the local operators, just look at the August numbers, they say. This is a saturated market.

The same could be said for Kansas City where another casino is proposed.

There is one site under consideration that makes economic sense. Isle of Capri, based in St. Louis, wants to build in Cape Girardeau, a move that's welcomed by the community. The city council and Old Town Cape, representing the neighborhood where the casino would be built, have issued resolutions of endorsement.

Based on a similar casino it operates in Boonville, Isle of Capri expects to create 450 jobs, $14.5 million payroll and $3 million in new local taxes. That's a game changer in southern Missouri.

It would trickle through the rest of the state, creating more revenue and -- can you imagine? -- better rural-urban relationships.

This is not the time to roll the dice, so to speak. Isle of Capri knows how to operate casinos, the area is not saturated with gaming, the community has opened its collective arms and it's not a nature preserve.

The smart money should bet on giving the last Missouri gaming license to Isle of Capri.

P.S. This is how strong the management of Isle of Capri is.

We reported last week that chairman and CEO Jim Perry voluntarily took a pay cut when the economy turned sour. What we didn't say was that it was a 25 percent cut and president and COO Virginia McDowell, as well as board members Bernard Goldstein and Robert Goldstein, did the same. That's commitment.

-- St. Louis Business Journal, Sept. 17

Jerry Ford's book is a fun read, especially if you grew up in Cape Girardeau close to his era. Jerry was the bat boy on the American Legion team on which I, his brother Walter Joe Ford, former mayor Paul Stehr, "Chub" Heuring, "Dub" Suedekum and others played.

Read the book, chuckle and be reminded (or learn) about some of the characters of Cape Girardeau, Southeast Missouri and the Missouri Legislature.

Incidentally, David Limbaugh will be at Barnes and Noble from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday for a book signing.

Gary Rust is chairman of Rust Communications.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: