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Howard Stutz

Isle of Capri front-runner for Missouri license

29 November 2010

ST. LOUIS, Missouri -- Isle of Capri Casinos, which has been exploring a Las Vegas casino purchase, appears on track to acquire Missouri's 13th and final gaming license.

The Missouri Gaming Commission released an economic impact study that seemed to favor St. Louis-based Isle of Capri's plan to build a casino in Cape Girardeau in southeastern Missouri.

Isle's proposed $125 million plan is one of three casino proposals for the license, which had belonged to Pinnacle Entertainment. The company gave the license back to the state when it closed the aging President Casino in St. Louis.

The competing proposals would put the license in either northern St. Louis or Kansas City.

Cape Girardeau voters on Nov. 2 approved a local referendum supporting the casino.

Union Gaming Group principal Bill Lerner told investors St. Louis and Kansas City already have enough casinos.

"Ultimately we believe a license at Cape Girardeau (110 miles from St. Louis) would be the best bet to grow the overall Missouri market," Lerner said. "The state may officially announce the winner of the final license by year-end."