The unpredictable, ever changing environment of the Missouri legislative session has just gotten more interesting. As was reported last week, the Missouri Gaming Association opposed a decision by the Missouri Gaming Commission to authorize a 14th casino in Missouri to be located in the Kansas City area in Sugar Creek, MO. It seems that the opposition to a new casino in Sugar Creek has created an interesting alliance, according to Virginia Young of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
In an unlikely pairing, the gambling industry is pushing a bill sponsored by a conservative Republican, Sen. Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon.
His bill (SB1171) would place a two-year moratorium on licenses for new casinos.
After utilizing statistics and information found in the Missouri Gaming’s Commission recently released statewide market study at a hearing in front of the Missouri Gaming Commission when the new Sugar Creek casino was being considered, the Missouri Gaming Association once again distributed evidence and analysis from the market study to support their argument that the Kansas City area does not need and cannot support another casino. It seems though that even with evidence found in a study produced and paid for by the Missouri Gaming Commission, that the commission’s Executive Director, Gene McNary will not accept any argument to reject the expansion of gambling in the state of Missouri by adding a new Kansas City area casino.
Senator Jack Goodman is not the only legislator pushing for a stop to the issuance of new casino licenses with the support of the casino industry. State Representative Shannon Cooper has introduced HB 2232, which would cap the number of licensed casinos in Missouri to 13, which would not include the Sugar Creek casino. Rep. Cooper has stated that he is hoping his legislation is passed in the House and Senate and then signed by the Governor before the Gaming Commission finalizes approval of the new Sugar Creek casino.
Just in case both of these pieces of legislation fail, the casino industry wants to put the subject of removing the loss limit and potentially limiting new licenses up to a vote of the people through an ballot initiative. The Post-Dispatch reports:
If the bill doesn’t pass, the gaming industry has another option: an initiative petition. A proposal ready for circulation would cap the state’s casinos at those already built or being built. It also would repeal the state’s $500 loss limit and raise gaming taxes slightly.