Gaming Commission clears Pinnacle's f...

Gaming Commission clears Pinnacle's former CEO

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#1 Dec 16, 2009
STLtoday.com
12.16.2009
Gaming Commission clears Pinnacle’s former CEO
By: Virginia Young
Post-Dispatch Jefferson City Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY — Casino executive Dan Lee had a bad day. But he didn’t violate any state laws or gaming regulations.

That was the conclusion today of Missouri gambling regulators, who voted to let the former Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. chief executive officer off the hook for angry comments he made last month at a St. Louis County Council meeting.

“It was an unfortunate incident,” said Gaming Commission Chairman James Mathewson.“He’s apologized to everybody.”

Lee will be required to pay the $16,800 cost of the commission’s investigation.

The incident occurred after the council approved a rezoning for a potential casino competitor in North County. Lee was disappointed, particularly with council member Steve Stenger, who represents the South County area where Pinnacle is building a new casino.

Lee had urged Stenger before the meeting to vote “no.” Stenger voted yes, and the rezoning passed 4-2. After the vote, Lee walked toward the council dais and told Stenger’s assistant, Linda Henry, that her boss had “just made the worst mistake of his political career. I won’t forget this,” Lee said.

Lee later told investigators that “he was very disappointed and that has face could have been red and his appearance and tone were probably angry.”

After leaving the meeting, Lee called St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and left him a voice mail, warning that Pinnacle might not finish the next phase of the River City development in South County, and might not fund a county air show and fireworks display, either.

Lee resigned his Pinnacle post shortly afterward, but he still holds a Missouri gaming license and could continue to work in the field. The commission has broad authority to discipline casinos and executives who hold licenses.

However, investigators concluded that Lee’s outburst was “an isolated incident” and that he broke no laws or regulations.

“He was mad,” said Gaming Commission Executive Director Gene McNary.“He’s head of a company that has made a substantial investment, and the councilman has voted for his competitor. Those aren’t threats. That’s the expression of,‘How can you do this to us?’”

Lee was represented at today’s hearing by his attorney, Jim Deutsch of Jefferson City.

“There’s no question the behavior was inappropriate,” Deutsch said after the meeting.“The fact is, everybody has a bad day. Dan had his. Not all inappropriate behavior is a violation of statutues or regulations, and they’re not authorized to punish bad ideas or bad behavior.”

Lee had offered to attend the meeting but was told by the commission it was unnecessary. In a written statement issued from Las Vegas, Lee said:

“I am pleased by today’s ruling by the Missouri Gaming Commission and the findings from the Missouri Highway Patrol investigation. The careful examination of the facts showed that no regulations were violated at the St. Louis County Council meeting on November 3. I am grateful to Executive Director Gene McNary and the Missouri Highway Patrol officers for their thorough and expeditious work and am pleased that my Missouri Gaming license remains in good standing.”

Lee said he would spend time with family while evaluating his next move but was looking forward to “new opportunities and challenges in the gaming industry.”

Article printed from Political Fix: http://www.stltoday.com/blogzone/political-fi...

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