Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Odds Favor County Vote on Riverboat Gambling

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Odds Favor County Vote on Riverboat Gambling

Article excerpt

St. Charles County voters will probably get to decide whether they want riverboat gambling, but just when they would vote won't be known until later this month.

The St. Charles County Council will consider a bill that would place a proposal to authorize riverboat gambling in unincorporated areas on the ballot in April. In the meantime, the council, in an effort to make sure it has the best deal for the county, will advertise for more riverboat gambling proposals. So far, it has received one.

The council decided last week to reconsider the gaming issue after a special meeting with a casino company based in Nevada. The firm has submitted a plan to build a $50 million complex north of St. Charles.

Last month, the council rejected a bill that would have placed the gambling issue before voters Nov. 2. Council members said they needed more information before placing the issue before voters.

"Everyone on the council agrees, I believe, we are going to put the issue of gaming before the voters," said Council Chairman Carl Bearden. "The issue is when we are going to do it."

Summit Casinos International of Reno wants to put a riverboat in the Missouri River near Hawning Road. The company eventually hopes to build a hotel, RV park, golf course and other recreational facilities on at least 50 acres near the river.

Summit representatives asked the council for endorsement of their plan before they apply to the Missouri Gaming Commission next month for a license. The company encouraged the council to place the gambling issue on the April ballot after Bearden said the council might want to wait until August to put the issue before voters.

"We're not opposed to competition, but the idea of waiting until August . . . isn't in the best economic interest of the county," said Roger H. Elton, chairman and chief executive officer of Summit. "The April date would make the best sense."

Bearden acknowledged the economic advantages of riverboat gambling but expressed concern about having the best plan to present to the voters.

Councilman Harold Kohrs, 4th District, said no other companies had presented proposals. He agreed that the gaming issue should be placed before voters as soon as possible.

"In my view, the county should do everything it can to get it on the April ballot, if we can get a satisfactory agreement worked out with them," said Kohrs. "No one else has approached us."

St. Charles Mayor Grace Nichols encouraged the council to seek more proposals. She said she had no problems with Summit and its proposals for north of the city.

"It would certainly be useful to find out who else is out there," Nichols said. "We would like to go forward with you . . . to try to come up with something that we all think is in the best interest of the city and the county."

Nichols later said the city was encouraging the county to look at the prospect of creating a special tax-increment district for the area. …

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