Creek revives casino dream
by The Examiner
CREEK, Missouri - The city of Sugar Creek and Southwest Hotel
and Casino are hoping to put two heartbreaking failures of the past
behind them and work together on a blockbuster deal to build a casino
in Sugar Creek, officials confirmed last week. Unfortunately for
Sugar Creek and Southwest, those outside of their circle say the
odds are stacked against them.
The Missouri Gaming Commission "is not at this time looking
at expanding in the Kansas City market," said Harold Bailey,
a public relations officer for the commission.
Bailey said the Kansas City market is essentially saturated with
four existing casinos P Harrah's, AmeriStar, Isle of Capri, and
while this hasn't stopped Jim Druck, president of Southwest Hotel
and Casino of Minneapolis, from putting up at least $20,000 in front
money for site investigation and application fees, Druck admits
it is an uphill battle.
Missouri Gaming Commission is very cautious; they want to make sure
every license succeeds. That's very prudent on their part,"
Druck said. "But the main issue confronting us is, what will
the Missouri Legislature do?"
Missouri General Assembly is considering a bill that would limit
the number of casinos allowed to operate in Missouri. Depending
on which version of the bill is considered, the number of casinos
in the state could be limited to 10 or 11, Druck said. If the bill
is passed, it would effectively end any attempts to open a fifth
casino in the Kansas City area.
of this, Druck says, Southwest Hotel and Casino has not filed an
application with the state gaming commission.
all goes as planned, Druck says, the casino and resort destination
would likely be built at or near the same location as a casino that
was planned in the early 1990s, though he would not release specific
details on where exactly the casino would be, or when it would be
been to the site a couple of times, and we've spoken to the city,"
he said. "We've engaged a lobbyist to be our voice in Jefferson
City, asking representatives to not pass a license limitation. But
beyond that, we're simply in a conceptual mode; we haven't done
any market research or done any site acquisition."
Creek is no stranger to gambling establishments looking at the city's
claim to the banks of the Missouri River. In 1993, Sugar Creek solicited
proposals from various companies that wished to operate an excursion
gambling boat in the city's limits. Four prospective gaming operators
made formal proposals, including Fitzgeralds of Sugar Creek, and
the Kansas City Station Corp. and Station Casinos.
the time, there was one more available Class A gaming license for
the Kansas City area.
license, subsequently was issued to Station, which then decided
to open a casino across the River, leaving Sugar Creek without a
casino, and staring at a financial slap in the wallet.
wound up filing bankruptcy, and teamed with the city of Sugar Creek
to sue Station. A settlement was reached last year. Station later
was sold to AmeriStar.
Then again in 1996, the American Gaming and Entertainment Co. of
Atlantic City, N.J., filed an application for a gaming license.
That request was denied.
Creek isn't alone in its past casino heartbreaks. Last year, Southwest
Hotel and Casino had hoped to have an amendment passed that would
have allowed for a casino license near Branson, at Rockaway Beach.
The amendment did not get the approval of voters during the August
2004 primary election.
the prospects of a fifth casino in the Kansas City area seems bleak,
members from the city and the casino say they are remaining cautiously
optimistic that something good will happen for them.
don't know," said Alderman Joe Kenney. "But if it happens,
it would be huge for our city."