Casino Watch Focus reported that the MO Gaming Commission voted 4-0 to shut down the President Casino because of declining revenues. Apparently, it’s not making enough money, so they hope to give the license to a company that will build yet another mega casino complex and spend even more money on elaborate advertising schemes that will take even more money away from Missouri families. Tim Logan of The St Louis Post Dispatch called this act “the most aggressive action ever taken by a state against a U.S. casino.”
“It’s probably unprecedented,” said Tony Cabot, a veteran gaming lawyer in Las Vegas. “I think it sets an awfully dangerous precedent.”
Spokesmen for both the Gaming Commission and Pinnacle declined to comment for this story. But conversations with others in the tight-knit gambling industry revealed concern that, while there’s little sympathy for Pinnacle, state officials may be recklessly rewriting rules in a highly regulated business that relies on playing things by the book.
Indeed, Missouri casinos are governed by hundreds of pages of rules covering every facet of their operation, notes Mike Winter, executive director of the Missouri Gaming Association, a trade group. And the Gaming Commission wields vast power to enforce those rules. But the reason for closing the President, Winter said, comes out of left field.
Juana Summers of The St Louis Post Dispatch is pointing to an effort in the Missouri Legislature to stop such reckless and subjective regulation abuse:
A House committee heard a proposal today aimed at keeping the doors of the President Casino open, though the Missouri Gaming Commission has taken steps to pull the casino’s license.
Rep. Tishaura Jones’ bill, HB 1826, would outlaw the closure of a casino on purely economic grounds. The bill has the support of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who testified Monday.
“The Gaming Commission is holding Pinnacle hostage here, and the ransom is President’s license,” Slay said.
Some House lawmakers said the idea of “inadequate declining performance” seemed subjective and was a hard standard to interpret.
Rep. Vicki Englund, D-St. Louis County, questioned how the commission evaluates casino’s performance and asked lobbyist Jim McNichols, who testified on the commission’s behalf to explain how casinos could be expected to meet standards when they weren’t explicitly provided with standards to comply with.