Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Watch Out Metropolis! Cape Lands A Casino

Cape Girardeau snagged a new $125 million casino today after state gaming officials selected the city as the site of Missouri's 13th casino license, approving a  plan proposed by Isle of Capri. The city beat out two other locations in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas.

The move could help the counties on both sides of the Mississippi River in Illinois and Missouri with new jobs and tourism opportunities, but it's expected to come at a cost to Southern Illinois' only existing casino at Metropolis.

Last May another Missouri casino operator touted a study that showed Cape Girardeau as the best location for the state's 13th casino, at least in terms of actually adding to Missouri's take of gambling taxes. The study by Ameristar Casinos showed the Mississippi River town with a potential to generate $87 million in gross revenue to become the state's biggest casino outside Kansas City and St. Louis.

Importantly for Missouri, but bad for Illinois, the study showed a Cape Girardeau casino wouldn't cannibalize any Missouri casino, just Harrah's casino in Metropolis.

Only a small portion -- $10 million -- of the Cape Girardeau revenue would come from another casino, and the report identifies Harrah's in Metropolis, Ill., as the loser.

Ameristar, which already operated casinos in Missouri wanted to limit the competition and not see another competitor come to the St. Louis market. A second study by the state's gaming commission that came out last week basically agreed.

"In all three scenarios, Isle of Capri-Cape Girardeau generated the highest net new casino revenue and gaming taxes, new employment, and, overall Gross Domestic Product," the study found. Casino Celebration was second in all three scenarios.

Both St. Louis and Kansas City are home to several casinos. Cape Girardeau is about 100 miles south of St. Louis. The only other casino within a close drive is in the small town of Caruthersville in the Missouri Bootheel, about 85 miles south of Cape Girardeau.

"All of the applicants have submitted proposals for medium-sized facilities but only Isle of Capri is far enough from existing Missouri casinos to minimize cannibalization," the report found.

Isle of Capri, based in suburban St. Louis, is proposing a $125 million casino along the Mississippi River in Cape Girardeau.

The casino would become one of the largest tourism sites in the Heartland with the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail and the four dozen lodging operators seeing the first benefit. It will also be just 45 miles away from the new Millennium Development project in Marion.

The casino isn't slated to open until late 2012 according to the Southeast Missourian.

The project is expected to include 1,000 slot machines, 28 table games, three restaurants, a lounge and terrace overlooking the Mississippi River and a 750-seat event center at an estimated cost of $125 million.

Isle of Capri will present a preliminary development plan to the city planning commission on Dec. 8.

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