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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Isle of Capri interested in Missouri license

10 May 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Apparently there is interest in owning the soon-to-be-available St. Louis gaming license that Pinnacle Entertainment is abandoning in July.

Some 15 groups and individuals, including regional gaming operator Isle of Capri Casinos, have sent letters of interest to Missouri gaming regulators.

Las Vegas-based Pinnacle, which operates two St. Louis-area casinos, is shutting down the aging President this summer. Missouri has a maximum of 13 gaming licenses.

The Missouri Gaming Commission asked anyone interested in applying for the license to notify regulators. A new casino would not have to be located near St. Louis. State law only allows casinos on the Missouri River or Mississippi River.

Gaming officials said not all of interested parties specified a location. But regulators said there was interest for casinos in Sugar Creek, Cape Girardeau, West Alton, St. Louis, Spanish Lake and the northeast Missouri town of Louisiana.

The only publicly traded casino operator known to have expressed an interest in the license is St. Louis-based Isle of Capri which has three Missouri casinos in the towns of Boonville and Caruthersville and a large property in Kansas City.

The three casinos collectively operate about 2,800 slots and 60 table games.

"Isle appears to be the only publicly traded and established gaming operator (interested)," Union Gaming Group Principal Bill Lerner said last week. "The Missouri Gaming Commission has not yet set a formal deadline for applicants."

State regulators plan to meet May 18 in Jefferson City to discuss the matter.