On Wednesday November 28th in Clayton MO, several casinos presented reports to the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) as is common when they seek re-licensures. After these reports were presented the Commissioners asked various questions to the casino executives. Commissioner Judge Hais asked a question about the issue of casino campaign contributions; a timely question as many around the state are asking whom exactly the casinos and their contributions are influencing. This same issue was addressed by the HRCC earlier in the week which prompted them to no longer accept casino contributions. Judge Hais specifically asked if the casino would chose to voluntarily stop giving campaign money if the other state casinos also agreed to stop giving campaign money.
Of the two casino’s present at the meeting, both indicated that the decision would mainly come from their corporate office, but both Isle of Capri Boonville and Pinnacle, Inc. (which oversees Presidents Casino and Lumiere Place) agreed to discuss the issue and Pinnacle even seemed overly cooperative indicating that most of those who would be responsible for such a decision were present at the meeting and they could discuss it immediately if necessary.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out. It would be wonderful to see the casinos choosing to voluntarily stop providing our legislators with undue influence through campaign contributions. It is clear that if they did pull money from direct contributions they would simply spend more on lobbyist. However, it is always preferred to see a legislator make a decision based on the voices of their constituents than out of obligation because they accepted funds to win an election.
We applaud the efforts of Commissioner Judge Hais. Not only was the question timely and relevant with far reaching impacts, at the end of the meeting the Commissioners where unanimous in making a decision to sit down and talk with casinos to try to come to an appropriate resolution.