State gambling regulators selected Cape Girardeau on Wednesday for the location of a new casino that project supporters hope will help revitalize the southeast Missouri city’s downtown.
The Missouri Gaming Commission voted unanimously and without discussion to choose Cape Girardeau over proposals for St. Louis and for Sugar Creek, which is near Kansas City. Commission Chairman Jim Mathewson said there were concerns that casino markets in St. Louis and Kansas City already are well covered. Plus, he said the company behind the Cape Girardeau project has a strong track record in Missouri.
Regulators were weighing applications from Isle of Capri to build a $125 million casino in Cape Girardeau, Casino Celebrations for a $132 million facility in St. Louis and Paragon Gaming for a $107 million casino in Sugar Creek.
A casino license became available this summer when the President Casino in downtown St. Louis went out of business. Missouri law since 2008 has capped the number of casino licenses at 13.
The commission’s decision Wednesday clears the way for a casino in Cape Girardeau, but a license is not awarded until a facility is ready to open. This is the first time regulators have mulled a new casino since the limit on casino licenses was enacted.