The Missouri Gaming Commission is expected to decide by Thanksgiving whether to
further expand gambling operations in the state of Missouri. The Commission is
considering applications from casino developers in north St. Louis County, suburban
Kansas City, and Cape Girardeau.
The casino companies are competing for the thirteenth, and last available casino
license in the state of Missouri. In November 2008 Missouri voters repealed the
provision in Missouri law which limited the amount of money gamblers could lose
in a two-hour period to $500. At the same time the loss limit was repealed, the
statewide referendum placed a cap on the number of Missouri casinos at thirteen.
Existing Missouri casinos supported the cap to limit competition from new casino
The thirteenth license became available when the President Casino on the riverfront
in St. Louis shut down in June.
There are currently four casinos in the Kansas City
metropolitan area, four in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and one each in St.
Joseph, Boonville, Caruthersville, and LaGrange.
Developers are seeking to site the last Missouri casino in the Columbia Bottoms
area of north St. Louis County, near the old Chain of Rocks Bridge in north St.
Louis, in the Sugar Creek area of north Kansas City, and in Cape Girardeau. The
Missouri Gaming Commission has held a series of meetings over the last several
weeks to hear from proponents and opponents of the various projects. Casino applicants
are scheduled to make formal presentations of their plans to the Missouri Gaming
Commission on October 20th.
Missouri Gaming Commission Chairman James Mathewson has stated repeatedly that the
Commission will not issue an additional license unless it can be demonstrated that
it will generate additional revenue for the state.
"There isn't anything in the
rules that says we have to award that final license. If after we have evaluated
all four proposals we don't see a significant increase going to the education fund,
then what's the point?"
Ameristar, which operates casinos in St. Charles and Kansas City, is touting an
economic impact study which claims that the Cape Girardeau proposal would produce
the most new revenue for the state because it would take little business away from
existing casino operators.
Yet the question is whether the people of Cape Girardeau want a casino in their
town. Residents there will vote on
November 2nd whether to endorse the casino proposal
or not. Cape residents voted against having a casino in their town back in 1993,
but then reversed their position months later that same year. If they vote no this
year, Mathewson has stated that the Cape Girardeau plan will be taken off the table.
There were nearly 54 million admissions to Missouri casinos during fiscal year 2010,
which ended on June 30th of this year. Casino patrons gambled away a total of more
than $1.7 billion during those twelve months. The state of Missouri collected approximately
$474 million in revenue from admissions fees and a percentage of the casinos' gross
None of these statistics tell the story of the number of families financially destroyed
through family members gambling away the household income and savings and racking
up towering debts.
None of these statistics tell the story of the number of marriages
blown apart, the number of children deprived of basic needs, and the number of families
emotionally destroyed by gambling addictions. None of these statistics tell the
story of the real "economic impact" Missouri would see if $1.7 billion was spent
on homegrown community businesses and products rather than running through the
hands of out-of-state casino companies.
The Missouri Department of Mental Health reports that studies indicate that anywhere
from 25 to 50 percent of spouses of problem gamblers have been abused. They further
report that children of compulsive gamblers are also prone to suffer abuse and neglect,
and have a higher risk of alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders, depression,
The annual cost for problem and pathological gamblers is estimated to be $5 billion
per year, along with an estimated $40 billion in lifetime costs for lost productivity,
social services expenses, and creditor losses. The Department of Mental Health projects
that each problem gambler negatively impacts the lives of from 10 to 17 other people.
You can let the Missouri Gaming Commission know of your thoughts about the expansion
of gambling in our state by writing them at the following address:
Missouri Gaming Commission
3417 Knipp Drive
P.O. Box 1847
Jefferson City, MO 65102
You can e-mail the Commission by using this e-mail address:
You can read more about the social costs, human damage, and community liabilities
of casino gambling by visiting the
CasinoWatch blog at the following link:
You can also learn more about compulsive gambling and its harmful impacts by visiting
the website of the National Council on Problem Gambling at this link: