Isle of Capri to open casino in Cape Girardeau

Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | 7:27 a.m. CDT; updated 10:23 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, October 16, 2012

ST. LOUIS — Missouri's 13th casino is now scheduled to open by the end of the month.

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. said Monday it will open its new $135 million Isle Casino Cape Girardeau on Oct. 30 in the southeast Missouri town, pending final approval from the Missouri Gaming Commission. The casino includes five restaurants, a 750-seat multipurpose room, 1,000 slot machines and 28 table games.

Mayor Harry Rediger said the casino has created 450 new jobs and will bring an estimated 1 million visitors each year to downtown Cape Girardeau.

"It is a very big economic boost to our city," Rediger said. "We're really excited about it."

A 2008 ballot measure approved by voters limits Missouri to 13 casino licenses. One became available in 2010 when the President Casino closed in St. Louis. The Missouri Gaming Commission chose the Cape Girardeau site over proposals in St. Louis and suburban Kansas City.

St. Louis-based Isle of Capri operates 15 other casinos around the country.

"This will be an exciting moment for our company and for the Cape Girardeau community," Isle of Capri President and Chief Executive Officer Virginia McDowell said.

The Gaming Commission is scheduled to meet in Cape Girardeau on Oct. 24 and could approve the opening then. Gaming commission staff would then test casino workers in a mock operation before the casino would be allowed to open.

Some people in Cape Girardeau have opposed the casino, but Rediger said he has spoken with mayors in casino towns "from Iowa to Louisiana" who told him that fears about crime when casinos first came to the Midwest in the 1990s have proven unfounded.

"If anything, it has replaced a blighted area within our community," Rediger said.

He acknowledged that gambling addictions might rise, citing statistics showing a small percentage of patrons will become problem gamblers.

"We've got entities and agencies in town that will help with programs to address that," Rediger said.

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James Krewson October 16, 2012 | 2:31 p.m.

The National Council on Problem Gambling, citing various studies, reports that one in five pathological gamblers attempts suicide, a rate higher than for any other addictive disorder.

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