Missouri Gaming Commission rules 13th state casino license will be open to competition: The President Casino calls foul

Casino Watch Focus has been providing updates to a situation that might allow for a new casino in the north St Louis area.  It has been long reported that the President Casino’s boat is in poor condition and will need to be either repaired or replaced by a new boat altogether.  Pinnacle, the parent company of the President Casino, believed moving the boat to a new location would be a simple process.  Planning meetings were held to investigate the possibility of a new casino in the north St Louis area and recently, the Missouri Gaming Commission meet and ruled on the on the issue.  The St Louis Post Dispatch reports:

In a unanimous vote, the Missouri Gaming Commission ruled that any plan to move the money-losing President or replace the century-old Admiral riverboat on which it sits would require operator Pinnacle Entertainment to reapply for its license with the state.  In July, Koster’s [AG] office said a casino’s license is tied to “both a specific vessel and a specific location,” and thus it can’t be moved or put on a new boat. With the clock ticking toward that Coast Guard inspection, state officials thought it best to press the issue, McNary said.

The ruling means that the license currently held by Pinnacle will be up for competition once the boat has to be replaced or Pinnacle tries to move the boat’s location.  Competition seems inevitable as there were several groups attempting to obtain a casino license before Proposition A capped the total number at 13.  The Post Dispatch is also reporting on possible new competition:

There are also, McNary said, at least four groups that have expressed interest in building a casino near the Chain of Rocks bridge, including Pinnacle and North County Development LLC, which is now seeking approval from the St. Louis County Planning Commission for a 377-acre site along Columbia Bottom Road.

Pinnacle’s lawyers expressed serious concern at the Gaming Commission meeting calling the Commission’s action a revocation of their license:

“If what you are saying is that there has to be a new license application with an RFP to all others who are interested in getting a license and there would be competition for a new license, I think you are back-dooring revocation in violation of due process and violation of the law.  There are no grounds or public interest issues to revoke this license.  It is a gross mistake and a violation of law.  We had no notice of revocation from the Commission.”

It seems pretty clear that Pinnacle will seek legal action against the Commission.  Pinnacle’s lawyers seemed to be blind-sided by the ruling, indicating they felt mislead by the procedures leading up to the Commission’s ruling.

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