Update: Missouri Families at Risk as Pinnacle Entertainment makes a surprise move and agrees to close the President casino despite their first favorable court ruling

Casino Watch Focus reported that Pinnacle Entertainment filed a motion in court to prevent the unprecedented decision by the Missouri Gaming Commission (MGC) to pull the President Casino’s license because of declining revenues.  The St Louis Post Dispatch reported that an appeals court in Kansas City ruled in favor of Pinnacle:

In the fight over the fate of the President Casino, Pinnacle Entertainment finally won a round. A state appeals court in Kansas City on Tuesday sided with the casino company in a lawsuit filed last fall against Missouri casino regulators. In its order, the panel called the Gaming Commission’s approach “confusing,” and said “such confusion raises concern that this was a contested case without sufficient process.” It sent the matter back to the commission, “for further proceedings.”

The ruling has no direct bearing on the Gaming Commission’s more recent effort to strip the President’s license over its weak financial performance. In that matter, Pinnacle has requested a hearing, which is likely to happen later this spring. But it could open a window for Pinnacle to propose improvements to the President, or even, potentially, to move it to a new site.

The issue was sent back to the MGC and a meeting was held on Wednesday, March 10th with the only item on the agenda being the President Casino’s license.  The result of the meeting came as a surprise as Pinnacle Entertainment agreed to close down the President Casino.  The St Louis Post Dispatch reported:

After eight months of staring down powerful Missouri regulators over the fate of the President Casino, the Las Vegas-based gaming company agreed Wednesday to close the ailing downtown riverboat by July 1. The move comes as a surprise, one that could have broad implications for St. Louis’ $1 billion-a-year casino industry.

In the last few weeks, McNary said, Pinnacle general counsel Jack Godfrey reached out to the commission and proposed a deal. Pinnacle would give up the license. The commission would drop its disciplinary proceedings. Everyone would move on. It is unclear what changed Pinnacle’s mind.

Some reasoned that the decision to stop fighting the Missouri gaming regulators might be, in part, to not wanting to alienate state regulators, not just because of the two other casinos they own here, but also because of casinos they operate in other states. The Post also pointed to statement made by Pinnacle:

Godfrey said the decision came simply from shifting priorities. Pinnacle has opened two big, new casinos in St. Louis in a little more than two years. Pouring time and money into the President was no longer smart business. “We looked at the situation and decided to allocate our resources to productive pursuits,” he said. “We’ve sort of agreed to disagree and to resolve this matter,” Godfrey said. “

Many people voted in favor of Proposition A because of the mistaken belief that a cap of 13 casinos in Missouri would keep one out of Cape Girardeau, Sugar Creek or Chain of Rocks.  Countless times during the campaign against Prop A, every effort was made to explain this very scenario, yet so many people voted ‘Yes’ thinking they were keeping a casino out of their back yard.  Missouri families find themselves in a situation where a new mega casino can be built anywhere along the Missouri or Mississippi Rivers, putting them in terrible risk of serious gambling related problems.  Now, more than ever, you need to contact your local Missouri Senators and House Representatives and encourage them support new legislation that prevents any new casinos from being built.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

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