Updated 11-17-06

CasiNO Watch

Attorney General Jay Nixon raised concerns Monday about a planned state takeover of a southeast Missouri casino, calling it a "horrific public policy" that conflicted with the regulatory duties of the Missouri Gaming Commission. ...Columbia Sussex has been unable to get a Missouri license, but no other buyer could be found and licensed by the Nov. 19 deadline. But in a letter Monday to Gov. Matt Blunt, Nixon called the Gaming Commission decision "a perversion of its law enforcement and regulatory role, and an unprecedented interference in the private sector." In an interview, he added that it was "horrific public policy." The decision will allow Columbia Sussex to make money off the casino, even though it has not been licensed to operate it, Nixon said. "A Missouri Gaming Commission employee will be working to take money from Missouri customers, bundle up that cash, and send it to an out-of-state casino boss who -- because of his performance record elsewhere -- has no chance of ever being licensed to run his own casino in Missouri," Nixon said in the letter.
Nixon contests state's takeover of casino/Missourian News/DAVID A. LIEB Associated Press/11.07.06

Fearing lost jobs and taxes, the Missouri Gaming Commission is taking steps to seize a casino in Caruthersville, Mo., and operate it until new owners can be licensed. ...Gaming industry observers said such a seizure would be almost without precedent. ...William R. Eadington, a professor of economics and director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada-Reno, said a Las Vegas casino was seized by Nevada gaming authorities years ago to curtail infiltration by organized crime. ..."But there's very little precedent for state operation of casinos in the U.S.," he said.
Missouri may seize bootheel casino/The Kansas City Star/By Rick Alm/10.26.06

He says Columbia Sussex is not licensed in Missouri. In fact, he says, Columbia Sussex has been rejected for licensure in Missouri. And Nixon says that means the commission's chief enforcement officer, who will be operating the Casino Aztar, will be generating income for a company that cannot be licensed here. Nixon says the plan also means the gaming commission will be producing profits for that very company.
Gaming Commission: Regulator or Cheerleader? /www.misourinet.com/
by Bob Priddy/11.06.06

Without the action, the casino was likely to close this month, said Gene McNary, the commission's executive director. He said a state takeover was necessary to save 283 casino jobs and $6 million in taxes and fees the casino pays. ...Brian Hauswirth, a spokesman for Gov. Matt Blunt, said the governor supports the commission's action. Mark Andrews, an official with Casino Watch, criticized the commission's takeover decision. He said regulators should not be operating a casino, which involves making decisions about profitability. "This is the ultimate fox guarding the henhouse," Andrews said.
Gaming commission takes over casino/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH/
By Virginia Young/11.04.06

Posted on Tue, Nov. 14, 2006
"We'll be a caretaker," promised Gene McNary, executive director of the commission. ...Nixon's concern for the state's integrity is well-founded but perhaps overblown. The commission's action was driven by an emergency and is quite legal. And Nixon knows it. When pressed last week, he could cite no statute, regulation or rule the commission had breached. ...McNary called Nixon's criticisms "political shenanigans" designed to embarrass Gov. Matt Blunt, his likely 2008 foe for the governor's office, who clearly backs the commission.
Aztar casino takeover grounded in legality/Kansas City Star/By RICK ALM/11.14.06

Nixon said the commission's job of enforcing casino laws would be compromised if the state operates the casino. He said the state would be working to generate profits for a company that the commission has refused to license. "Most Missourians understand that Gaming Commission employees are the umpires in the state's gaming industry -- not the players or the cheerleaders," Nixon said. A spokesman for Gov. Matt Blunt said Monday that the governor stands by the commission's move. The alternative is "a shutdown ? and that would have a huge impact on southeast Missouri," spokesman Brian Hauswirth said.
Town just wants casino's cash, state-run or not/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH/ By Todd C. Frankel/11.07.06