KANSAS CITY, Mo. – An 18-month-old Missouri law that allows casinos to issue credit to well-heeled patrons is working as intended, casino operators say, but a few tweaks could make it even more useful.
Under provisions that went into effect in July 2014, seven of the state’s 13 casinos now offer lines of credit to customers who qualify to borrow at least $10,000 and have the ability to pay it back within 30 days.
The current threshold can turn off some credit-worthy gamblers who might want only a few thousand dollars and don’t want to jump through hoops to prove they’re qualified for $10,000, said Troy Stremming, vice president of government relations and public affairs for Pinnacle Entertainment.
“It’s something we’re going to be speaking to legislators about,” Stremming said. “I can’t speak for other gaming companies, but it is certainly something Pinnacle properties will be pursuing.”
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Pinnacle owns Ameristar casinos in Kansas City and the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles, along with River City Casino in St. Louis, the state’s three highest-grossing gambling venues.
Stremming declined to say how many people have taken advantage of the offering or how much has been borrowed, calling that proprietary information.
The credit measure was aimed at affluent patrons who don’t want to carry large sums of cash or dip into their bank accounts for gambling money. The seven casinos that offer credit are in Kansas City or St. Louis, where professional sports teams and entertainment venues pull people from across the country.
Stremming said most customers who take out lines of credit at Pinnacle’s Missouri properties are high rollers who also have a relationship with the company’s casinos in other states.
“It allows us to bring some of our best guests from other casino markets into Missouri so they can experience some of those rare events – the World Series, NFL playoff games, a big SEC football game,” he said. “They stay in our casino and enjoy our amenities. The last thing they want to do is carry a lot of cash in their pockets.”
Under the current law, credit offered at the casinos is interest-free and can’t be extended to intoxicated patrons. Though they must qualify for at least $10,000, they aren’t required to borrow that much.
LeAnn McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Gaming Commission, which regulates gambling in the state, said the agency doesn’t keep track of how much credit is offered to casino patrons, nor does it have a position on whether any of the requirements should be changed.
Tom Teesdale, vice president of marketing for Argosy Casino in Riverside, said the 2014 law helped Missouri’s casinos compete with those in other markets in luring high-end gamblers.
“The more competitive we are, the more jobs we can create,” he said.
Casinos in Oklahoma and Illinois are allowed under their state laws to offer lines of credit, while those in Kansas and Iowa are not.