What are the odds of Sugar Creek landing a casino?

What are the odds of Sugar Creek landing a casino?

Each of the four proposals on the table has questions that the Missouri Gaming Commission must sort out before choosing one for a license. That process moves ahead with hearings next week.

The Sugar Creek proposal, by Paragon Gaming, is the smallest of the four: 1,200 slot machines, plus table games, restaurants and a lounge. Proponents say it could create 1,000 jobs. The drawback is that the Gaming Commission has generally indicated it considers the Kansas City gambling market – with four casinos already – to be saturated.

That takes us to St. Louis, also arguably a saturated market. A 1,400-slot machine proposal in North St. Louis and a 2,100-slot machine plan in Spanish Lake are on the table.

Finally, Cape Girardeau comes in with a plan for 1,200 slots and a 750-seat concert hall. Here’s a complication: That city’s residents will vote in November on whether they want a casino at all.

It’s an odd situation in which the normal rules of market economics are suspended. There’s a voter-mandated cap on the number of casinos, and the state chooses the winners and losers. A license is only available now because one underperforming casino in St. Louis closed and turned in its license. Who knows when such an opening might come along again?

The Gaming Commission is expected to announce a winner by the end of the year. Meanwhile, which of the four would widen the pie instead of taking a significant slice from someone else? Which proposals are even viable? Which is the best package of jobs and needed tax revenues? Perhaps those issues will come into sharper focus with the hearings.

The citizens of this state deserve a fair, open and thorough examination of those issues and a full, open discussion among decision-makers.

The Missouri Gaming Commission has three hearings on casino proposals next week: one Monday in Cape Girardeau, then Tuesday in St. Louis, then Wednesday in Sugar Creek.

The Sugar Creek hearing is set for 9 a.m. at the Mike Onka Memorial Buildling, 11520 Putnam, Sugar Creek. The hearing includes public comment but no presentation by the developer.

The commission apparently doesn’t intend for the hearing to last all that long. It has a regular meeting scheduled at 10:30, also at the Onka Building.