Prime Buzz | Sugar Creek loses out on casino

JEFFERSON CITY | The Missouri Gaming Commission voted unanimously this morning to make Cape Girardeau the site of the state’s next casino.

Sugar Creek, a suburb of Kansas City in eastern Jackson County, was among the three finalists, but was not selected.

Commissioners cited strong local support for the casino in Cape, high regard for Isle of Capri, which will operate the casino, as well as the area’s potential economic return.

“The Isle of Capri people have proven themselves to be a good corporate citizen. We know their record,” Commission Chairman James Mathewson said.

The vote does not actually award a license to Isle of Capri and Cape Girardeau, but it does identify the partnership between the gaming company and the city as the only one that can formally apply for the license.

Proposed casinos in Sugar Creek and St. Louis would have increased competition with existing gaming operations, Mathewson said. For Sugar Creek, that competition is magnified by the casino-resort now under construction near the Kansas Speedway in Wyandotte County, Kan.

“I felt like — and I think some of the other commissioners did too — that the market already has pretty strong casinos open there,” Mathewson said. “And with Kansas coming in on the other side, we were concerned about that.”

The Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway is likely to open eight to 12 months before a new Missouri casino could begin operating, he said.

The Cape Girardeau site, by contrast, is 85 miles from the nearest casino.