The State Gaming Commission might find itself running one of the casinos it licenses. The Commission says it cannot finish its investigation of the proposed buyer of the Casino Aztar in Caruthersville before the November 19th deadline demanded by the Aztar Corporation. Aztar has agreed to a corporate buyout by Columbia Sussex Corporation for two-billion dollars and it wants to sell the Caruthersville casino to another group. But the Commission says it won’t have its investigation of that group finished by then, and Aztar has threatened to close the Caruthersville casino if the sale does not go through. The Commission has decided to go to court to keep Aztar from shutting down the Caruthersville casino and letting the state take control of operations of the business.
The state gaming commission is considering whether to let people ban themselves from casinos only temporarily—instead of for life. But the commission is not ready to take that step, yet. People who ban themselves from casinos in Missouri must ban themselves for life. The gaming commission has taken its first look at a series of rules changes that would let them ban themselves for two years. It has decided the proposed changes need more polishing and more thought and has told staff members to come back with revisions. The administrator of the problem gambling program, Melissa Stephens, says the new program offers troubled gamblers opportunities for counseling and corrective action. The individual would have to go through several steps during two years of a temporary personally-imposed ban before deciding on a temporary or permanent ban. She says the intent of the program is not to keep people out of casinos, but to provide them with a program that lets them help themselves and be responsible for their own behavior. Stephens says it’s a major program and the changes being recommended are comprehensive. But she says the commission has decided to move cautiously. She’s not sure when a new proposal will be ready for commissioners.
The state gaming commission finds itself in an awkward position – because it regulates legal gambling.
The commission regulates legal and licensed forms of gambling – casinos, horse racing, and charitable bingo. But it gets a lot of calls from people complaining of illegal gambling devices in commercial businesses.
Sorry, says the commission, it has no power to shut down those operations. It has the power to jerk licenses of charitable organizations -and has – but the truck stop or tavern right next door to the bingo hall is out of the Commission’s reach. Commission Enforcement Manager Ernie Raub thinks there are thousands of those devices in Missouri. Fifteen thousand or more, he says.
When the Commission gets a complaint, it contacts local police agencies as well as state regulatory agencies including the Revenue Department which can check on unpaid taxes. Raub says the Commission offers to help with investigations because it has expertise. But he says only about one in seven or one in ten enforcement bodies calls back.
Raub says gambling machines are most likely to be in an area from central Missouri to south of St. Louis and to the Bootheel, with scattered opeators in the Ozarks lake regions and along the Interstates.
The man who has led the Missouri State Highway Patrol since June of 2001 is stepping down from his post amid a cloud of controversy over a recent investigation his folks were part of. After 32 years with the Highway Patrol, Colonel Roger Stottlemyre is retiring as its superintendent. The annoucement comes on the heels of the revelation by the Blunt Administration that it used the patrol illegally to conduct an investigation of workplace misconduct allegations against state Agriculture Director Fred Ferrell. Stottlemyre says one has nothing to do with the other. He says his decision was made, because it was right for him and his family at this point in time. Stottlemyre says the opportunity to work for the Missouri Gaming Commission balanced against the few years he could keep working for the patrol was the major factor in his decision. The patrol mandates retirement at age 60, which Stottlemyre will reach in about three years. Stottlemyre’s retirement is effective September 1, 2006. He will leave the patrol to become the Deputy Director of Enforcement for the Missouri Gaming Commission. Though Stottlemyre acknowledges it has been discovered that the patrol cannot conduct the type of investigations it did in the Ferrell case, he sounds unconvinced that the patrol shouldn’t be doing them. He says he had assumed it was the patrol’s responsibility to do such investigations and he wonders who would do them if patrol officials don’t. Stottlemyre says it will be up to lawmakers to make any changes that will allow the patrol to do background checks in the future. The Highway Patrol continues to conduct criminal background checks, such as those use to clear teachers for the classroom.
Related web sites:
SHP Stottlemyre Retirement Announcement
The superintendent of the Missouri Highway Patrol has announced his retirement. Colonel Roger Stottlemyre will wrap a 32-year career with the patrol on September first. He’s going to work for the state Gaming Commission. Stottlemyre is a native of Unionville in Northern Missouri. He became superintendent in June of 2001.His resignation comes quickly on the heels of another retirement announcement. His second in command, Lieutenant William Seibert, is going to the Probation and Parole Board.
The Missouri Gaming Commission meets with its new leader for the first time today. Former St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary admits he knows little about the gaming industry, that the only time he’s been in a Missouri casino was for a business meeting when he did no gambling. McNary says he sent in a job application for a job in the Blunt Administration, without specifying anything in particular, watched other positions being filled, and applied for the gaming job when it came open. McNary was hired within days of his interview. What he knows about the commission is what he’s learned from its web site and from meetings since going to work there. McNary is still waiting to hear what Blunt wants from the commission. McNary has no opinion on eliminating the loss limit, which the commission has advocated in the past, but says he agrees with the governor and the commission that any expansion of casino gambling away from the big rivers should come through citizen initiative, not from state action.
The Executive Director of the Missouri Gaming Commission is stepping down. Kevin Mullally, who has been involved with the agency since its inception in 1993, is leaving on April 15th to take a position in the private sector. Mullally, who took over as Executive Director five years ago, will become the General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for New Jersey-based Gaming Laboratories International, an independent gaming device and systems testing lab. He will work out of Jefferson City. Mullally says that while he has enjoyed his time at the Gaming Commission, it’s time to move on. Mullally says he pleased to be leaving the agency in great shape. He adds he’s proudest of the work done in the are of problem gambling, saying Missouri has become an international leader in that area.
A deal to sell the President Casino on the St. Louis riverfront has fallen apart. Columbia Sussex Corporation had offered $57-Million to President Casino, which is on the old riverboat Admiral. Columbia Sussex has withdrawn its application for a casino license from the State Gaming Commission. The President Casino is in bankruptcy. Columbia Sussex had planned to scrap the Admiral and install a new casino looking more like an old-time riverboat. Nobody’s giving a reason for the collapse of the deal but documents file din bankruptcy court say the State Gaming Commission staff had advised the Commission not to issue a license. President Casinos says it considers the move a breach of the sale contract.
Opponents of Missouri’s $500 loss limit for casino gamblers say it puts Missouri casinos at a competitive disadvantage against casinos in states without loss limits. The State Gaming Commission says the Harrah’s casino in Maryland Heights set a new record with $28-Million in winnings. And, the Ameristar casino a few miles away in St. Charles took in $28-Million. Both of those figures are greater than the winnings of two casinos on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River at St. Louis – combined. The Casino Queen in East St. Louis and the Argosy in Alton, Illinois, took in $25-Million. Illinois does not have a loss limit.
The State Gaming Commission refines the definition of river channel in determining how land-based a so-called riverboat casino can be. The law allows casinos to be built within one-thousand feet of the closest edge of a river’s main channel. The State Gaming Commission has decided “main channel” can include areas that are normaly dry unless the river is at flood stage. That clears the way for Pinnacle Entertainment to continue with efforts to build a casino in a man-made basin in north St. Louis. A spokesman for a competing company says the river cannot even be seen from the site Pinnacle wants to use. A challenge to the Commission’s ruling is being considered by Columbia Sussex Corporation, which is buying the Presidential Casino out of bankruptcy court. That casino is a few hundred yards downstream from the Pinnacle site.