Casino Watch focus last reported that the idea of a casino in north St Louis county looked bleak given Pinnacle’s decision to fix the Admiral and leave the casino at its current location. However, the issue still came before the Council and they voted 4-2 to approve the measure. This means that should a license become available, a casino could be potentially built in the Spanish Lake area in north St Louis County.
One council member came forward to give his account of what happened leading up to the vote. As reported by the St Louis Post Dispatch, he claimed that he was given the strong-arm treatment in an attempt to vote against the proposal:
Stenger said he was paid a visit shortly before the meeting began by Daniel R. Lee, chairman and chief executive officer of Pinnacle Entertainment Inc., and several members of Lee’s entourage. Stenger said it was the first time he had met Lee, who had flown in that afternoon from Las Vegas.
“He comes into my office 15 minutes before the meeting begins and he muscles me,” Stenger said. “He said, ‘This (the casino) is the largest investment your district has ever seen or will ever see. And we are asking you to vote no (on the North County rezoning issue).'” “I asked Lee why he cared, but he would only say, ‘Voting no is the right decision to make. You need to vote no.'” Stenger said.
The pressure didn’t stop there. Once the vote was cast, a visibly upset and clearly out of control, Daniel Lee made another move. The Post Dispatch explains:
After Stenger cast his vote, he said, Lee got out of his seat near the back of the chambers, hurried down the side aisle and stepped up onto the council dais. “He got about two feet from my face before someone waved him aside, telling him he could not interrupt the meeting like that,” Stenger said.
Stenger said Lee then approached Stenger’s assistant, Linda Henry, who was seated at the side of the dais. “Lee says to her, loud enough for everyone to hear, ‘He (Stenger) just made the worst move in his political career! I won’t forget this! I never forget things like this!'” Stenger said. Henry confirmed the incident. “He said it very menacingly,” she added. “I felt threatened.”
In a typical public relations move, Daniel Lee attempted to apologize for his behavior in an email. He claimed he is just very passionate about the issue. Either way, his behavior was clearly unacceptable and the vote was clearly unfortunate. However, if the Admiral can pass an inspection, its unlikely a casino will be moving north. Please keep reading Casino Watch Focus for more updates on this situation.