President Casino in St. Louis faces d...

President Casino in St. Louis faces decision about the aging boat

There are 2 comments on the Hotel Online story from Nov 26, 2008, titled President Casino in St. Louis faces decision about the aging boat. In it, Hotel Online reports that:

Nov. 26--Missouri casino regulators are wrestling with a policy decision that could toss a state casino license up for grabs.

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Since: Feb 08

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#1 Dec 28, 2008
President Casino in St. Louis faces decision about the aging boat (The Kansas City Star, Mo.)
By Rick Alm, The Kansas City Star, Mo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Nov. 26--Missouri casino regulators are wrestling with a policy decision that could toss a state casino license up for grabs.
This could put Sugar Creek's bid back in play.
When Missouri voters this month approved Proposition A, the number of casinos statewide was frozen at the current 13.
The President Casino in St. Louis, aboard the historic Admiral riverboat, is approaching the end of its useful floating life. It's not clear when the engine-less vessel and its 100-year-old steel hull could be ordered out of service, but a federal inspection is scheduled for July 2010.
In the meantime, owner Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. of Las Vegas wants to tow the casino boat -- and its coveted license -- about 10 miles north to the area around the Chain of Rocks bridge over the Mississippi River, a location that's in St. Louis.
Once the boat is settled in there, Pinnacle could replace it with a modern, off-river "boat in a moat" gambling complex.
Pinnacle spokesman Mack Bradley confirmed Tuesday that the company had an option on land there and hoped the move would be allowed.
"We've been assuming there will be some action to be taken in 2010, either repairs or looking at a new facility," Bradley said.
State law and Missouri Gaming Commission regulations aren't clear how far, if at all, a riverboat casino can legally move from its original location without reopening the licensing process -- including bidding by other casino developers and cities interested in the license.
In the past, a handful of Missouri casinos have been allowed to move several hundred yards for public safety or project expansion. No one has ever asked to move a licensed casino across a city.
If the troubled President isn't permitted to migrate upriver, Pinnacle could perform costly repairs or close the casino. Or the Gaming Commission could order the casino closed and the license reissued.
"Some move is in the best interest of the state," said commission Director Gene McNary. "The President has safety problems and issues. It's not generating the tax spin-off it could in another location."
Keeping the casino license appears to be the only reason Pinnacle has kept the President alive.
"Clearly the license is a valuable commodity and something worth protecting," said Bradley.
The President has struggled for years against larger suburban operators. This year it lost 45 days of business to severe flooding and plenty of other customers to upscale corporate sister Lumiere Place, Pinnacle's $507 million casino complex that opened in December three blocks away.
July through October this year President's gaming revenues were down 62 percent, to a combined $7.7 million compared with $20.6 million over the same period a year ago.
Last week Pinnacle announced it was cutting the casino's operating hours, shutting down table game play Monday through Wednesday, and permanently closing its poker room.
The Gaming Commission's patience may soon wear thin.
"Pinnacle is going to have to move," said McNary. If it can't and its license is revoked or forfeited, the license could be placed back on the state's auction block.
Pro-casino interests in Sugar Creek sued to overturn Proposition A on constitutional grounds -- and erase the 13-casino lid. They lost the first round and are appealing.
Another litigant in that case, Sugar Creek state Rep. Ray Salva, said Tuesday he was now seeking a legal opinion from the Missouri General Assembly's legislative research staff on whether state casino law bars licensed casinos from moving.
If it does, Sugar Creek's bid for a casino would be back in play, Salva said.
No matter how the Gaming Commission decides the President's fate, Salva expects the matter to wind up in court.
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Since: Feb 08

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#2 Dec 28, 2008
continued...
Hotel Online
President Casino in St. Louis faces decision about the aging boat (The Kansas City Star, Mo.)
By Rick Alm
The Gaming Commission's patience may soon wear thin.
"Pinnacle is going to have to move," said McNary. If it can't and its license is revoked or forfeited, the license could be placed back on the state's auction block.
Pro-casino interests in Sugar Creek sued to overturn Proposition A on constitutional grounds -- and erase the 13-casino lid. They lost the first round and are appealing.
Another litigant in that case, Sugar Creek state Rep. Ray Salva, said Tuesday he was now seeking a legal opinion from the Missouri General Assembly's legislative research staff on whether state casino law bars licensed casinos from moving.
If it does, Sugar Creek's bid for a casino would be back in play, Salva said.
No matter how the Gaming Commission decides the President's fate, Salva expects the matter to wind up in court.
Pinnacle's St. Louis competitors aren't eager to see the President move to the city's northern fringe. And Kansas City casino operators aren't eager to see the license put up for bid, risking further saturation of the gaming market.
A casino at Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County could open as early as next fall.
"These are decisions that have to be handled very carefully," said Ameristar Casinos Inc. vice president Troy Stremming, whose company has casinos in the Kansas City and St. Louis markets.
"We don't want to get into a situation where we are over-saturating the market and cannibalizing existing destination facilities."
To reach Rick Alm, send e-mail to [email protected]
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