The commission doesn't actually issue a license until the casino's doors open," commission spokeswoman LeAnn McCarthy said. "So what the commission will be doing is selecting an applicant for priority. At the meeting, there will be discussion among the commissioners and then they'll make their decision."
The priority designation will allow the selected company to begin construction of its casino. In Cape Girardeau, Isle of Capri has proposed to build a us$ 125 million casino near downtown on North Main Street. The other candidates are Casino Celebration in St. Louis and Paragon Casino in Sugar Creek near Kansas City.
If selected, Isle of Capri's design work and the permitting process would begin immediately, said spokeswoman Jill Haynes. Some property demolition work could also begin in a matter of weeks, she said. But construction of the actual casino building would begin in earnest in early summer, Haynes said. Isle of Capri executives will be at the meeting in Jefferson City, she said.
However, Haynes said she doesn't want to hazard a guess about who will get the license. "We remain confident that we have presented the state with a complete picture, including city support through the vote for Cape Girardeau, to be the ideal location for the 13th license," she said.
Earlier this month, the casino measure passed in Cape Girardeau with 61 % of those casting ballots voting yes. Mayor Harry Rediger said he was pleased to see that an announcement was forthcoming. "We're anxiously waiting and cautiously optimistic," Rediger said Wednesday from Texas, where he was spending the holiday with family.
Rediger said he intends to attend the meeting in Jefferson City next Wednesday. Gaming officials said they also expect representatives from all three companies to be in attendance.
Commission chairman Jim Mathewson of Sedalia did not return phone calls Wednesday. But he has said all along that not granting a license is a possibility if the commission deems it is unwarranted.
But Rediger doesn't see that as very realistic. A decision to not grant a license would cost the state revenue and jobs, he said. "I think the commission would be remiss if they made a decision not to award a license," Rediger said. "It would cost our community, our state and everyone involved. I just can't see the commission backing away from a decision that would economically benefit the state both in jobs and revenue."
Isle of Capri has said the Cape Girardeau casino would create 450 jobs and create us$ 17.4 million in incremental, or new, tax revenue for the state. Isle projects that Paragon would generate us$ 9.5 million in new tax money and Casino Celebration would generate nearly us$ 10 million in new tax revenue.