St. Louis Public Radio News
6:21 pm
Wed January 27, 2010

Mo. Gaming Commission moves to revoke President Casino license

Jefferson City, Mo. – The Missouri Gaming Commission has voted unanimously to revoke the license of the President Casino in downtown St. Louis.

The century-old Admiral riverboat that houses the President Casino is located within walking distance of the much-larger and more lavish Lumiere Place Casino. Both properties are owned by the same company, Pinnacle Entertainment of Las Vegas.

The Gaming Commission's Executive Director, Gene McNary, says Pinnacle has allowed the President Casino to decline in quality and performance.

"This is a license that's valuable to the State of Missouri...that casino can generate more and should generate more, and should not be deliberately put in decline holding a license hostage," McNary said.

Pinnacle can appeal the decision, but it's not known yet if it will. If the President Casino's license is revoked, McNary indicates there would be strong interest from competing companies for that license.

Jack Godfrey is Vice President and General Counsel for Pinnacle. He calls today's decision outrageous and extremely disappointing.

"We bought this out of bankruptcy in 2006, and we've spent $45 million, plus additional monies...we are operating pursuant to the business plan that the Gaming Commission, the same Gaming Commission, approved in December of 2008...and if they had an issue with us back then, they should have raised it during the renewal," Godfrey said.

Godfrey told reporters at the meeting that Pinnacle will examine all of its legal remedies before deciding what to do next.

City official also say they'll review legal options. Rodney Crim with the St. Louis Development Corporation blasted the Gaming Commission's decision.

"We're talking about 241 jobs, as well as $2 million in tax revenues to the city and more to the state...without a real plan in place, it just seems really kind of crazy to us, and we're just outraged with this," Crim said.

In addition, two St. Louis Democratic lawmakers, State Representative Tishaura Jones and Senator Robin Wright-Jones, are co-sponsoring legislation that would bar the Gaming Commission from revoking casino licenses based on economic performance.