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Davis, gaming commision discuss boats in moats

December 02, 1998
By: Pervaiz Shallwani
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Plans for a moat-based boat were presented Wednesday to Missouri's Gaming Commission which took no immediate action on the proposal.

Davis Gaming met with Missouri Gaming Commission for the first time since Amendment 9 was passed on the Nov. 3 ballot to present its idea for a continuously-docked casino.

Two changes were offered to the original plan, which was presented in September of 1997. One was to move the Casino to the south side of the railroad tracks so people did not have to cross over them in order to get to the casino.

"The railroad issues was having to go over the railroad tracks to get to the facility in the river and we no longer have to do that," said Michael Dickson, Vice-president and general manager of Davis. "So, by not having to cross the railroad tracks, that is a much safer issue for everybody."

The other issue was getting permission to keep the boat continuously docked instead of sending out on the river.

"Not actually being on the river is also a safety issue," Dickson said. "According to the corps of engineers, possible accidents can occur at any time, so we avoid that situation as well." Dickson referred to a situation in St. Louis, where a President Casino boat, the Admiral, ended up floating down the St. Louis riverfront.

Their was no one their in opposition to the presentation and Booneville City Council member Paul Wooldridge, their on behalf of the city, gave an approval to the idea. He said the main issue the city had was with the railroad tracks and said that Davis had taken care of it.

Kevin Mullally, Deputy director of the Missouri Gaming Commission, presided over the dock hearing. He said this was simply and information gathering and that the material would be presented to the rest of the commission. The commission would then need to decide if Davis has met the criteria necessary to open a casino in Missouri.

"The commission has already begun the investigation of the company and its principles," Mullally said. "We need to make a finding of the suitability of the company. If the company is found suitable then the project has to be completed and they need to demonstrate to the commission through a practice gaming session that they can operate and conform it with the commission's standards."

The key date for Davis will be December 9, when the commission decides to award the company a gambling license. If the commission approves the license, construction would start in January of 1999, Dickson said and would take anywhere from 10-12 months.

"We could theoretically open by this time next year," Dickson said.

The gambling industry spent nearly $5 million to lobby to have Amendment 9 passed, while its closest opposition spent about $35,000. This past election was also the first time in three tries that boats in moats passed in Cooper County, Wooldridge said.

"Always before, it passed within the city, but in the county as a whole it failed," he said. "But it passed this time."