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Cape Girardeau residents split over possible new casino

By Jacob McCleland, KRCU

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Gaming Commission was in Cape Girardeau for the first of four public hearings today. The southeast Missouri city is under consideration for the state's 13th gaming license, along with three other locations.

City leaders, business owners, and some downtown residents voiced their support to the commission, arguing that a casino would provide an economic boost to the downtown district.

Antique store owner Charles Bertrand remembers Cape Girardeau's downtown district 30 years ago, and its subsequent decline.

"This project is the last, best, and only remaining solution to revitalize Cape Girardeau's downtown," Bertrand said. "Gaming is regulated, it's legal, and they want to pay taxes."

Vocal opposition led by Doug Austin argued that a casino's negatives outweigh the benefits, and accused leadership of being brainwashed by gaming interests.

"Casino owners have already indoctrinated our city leaders into a way of thinking and speaking that supports the casino business public image at all costs, even abandoning their own cultural norms and values," Austin said.

Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. submitted a proposal that would bring a $125 million project to Cape Girardeau. The city of St. Louis, the St. Louis suburb of Spanish Lake, and the Kansas City suburb of Sugar Creek have also submitted applications.

Cape Girardeau voters must first approve gambling on the Mississippi Riverfront in November. The Missouri Gaming Commission reserves the option to not award a license if it determines that none of the proposed locations is suitable.


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