Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carnahan Signs Floating-Casino Bill

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Carnahan Signs Floating-Casino Bill

Article excerpt

Without the usual fanfare, Gov. Mel Carnahan on Friday signed a bill permitting Missouri riverboat casinos to offer additional games to gamblers if they open as planned on Memorial Day weekend.

Kevin Mullally, deputy director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, said the Admiral and the Casino St. Charles could open as early as May 27.

But Carnahan conceded that gambling opponents could delay the opening by challenging the law in court.

"I assume there will be challenges to every step," Carnahan said.

There were no speeches, no handing out of pens by Carnahan as he signed the bill, which the Legislature passed before it adjourned a week ago. It was just Carnahan in his office with three reporters and the same number of staff members.

"The sponsors said they were more interested in a signing rather than a signing ceremony," Carnahan said. "That's the reason it was done this way."

Major points in the new law are:

The Admiral is in the clear. The special gambling zone on the St. Louis riverfront, which includes the Admiral, is repealed. In January, the Missouri Supreme Court suggested that the zone was illegal.

Craps and video games of poker and blackjack can be added to the games played on the boats. The Supreme Court held that only table games of poker and blackjack were clearly legal without a constitutional amendment permitting full-scale gambling.

Voters defeated such an amendment on the April 5 ballot. The four boats that had invested heavily in opening as soon as possible had intended to go ahead with only table poker and blackjack until Carnahan signed the bill Friday.

The bill will permit both the boats and the state to make more money because it authorizes additional games, but not unrestricted slot machine operations.

A tighter conflict-of-interest section. It forbids public officials and their families to have investments in gambling companies. …

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