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Five Vie for Missouri's Final Casino License
One Plan Proposes a $350 million Casino and Hotel Complex

By Tim Logan, St. Louis Post-DispatchMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sept. 02, 2010--Five projects are still in the running for Missouri's 13th and final casino license, and now the race is officially on.

Wednesday was the deadline to apply for a license, and the Missouri Gaming Commission received five proposals. They came from three corners of the state -- two from the St. Louis area, one in Cape Girardeau and two from the Kansas City suburb of Sugar Creek -- and from companies with a range of experience in the gambling industry and varying levels of support in their communities.

Little information was available Wednesday evening about the proposals -- the deadline to file was 5 p.m. -- but several have already been made public. Applicants include:

-- Casino Celebration, a group led by the Koman family, which wants to build a $115 million casino in north St. Louis, just south of the Chain of Rocks Bridge. It has the support of the city of St. Louis, and last week struck a deal with Great Rivers Greenway. Jim Koman also co-owns the Casino Queen in East St. Louis.

-- North County Development LLC, which has proposed a $350 casino and hotel complex in Spanish Lake in north St. Louis County. It could be the biggest casino on the table, but it has drawn strong opposition from local environmentalists. St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley has said he opposes the plan, which could be a major hurdle.

-- Isle of Capri Corp., which would put a $125 million casino in downtown Cape Girardeau. The Creve Coeur-based company appears to be the largest casino operator applying in Missouri. Cape's city council voted to endorse the plan last week, but city voters will decide in November if they want to allow a casino in the city. A no vote would likely doom the plan.

-- Epic Gaming LLC, which is proposing a casino in Sugar Creek, east of Kansas City. Epic is a Las Vegas-based group of experienced casino executives, but no details of their plan in Sugar Creek have yet been made public.

-- Sunway Gaming LLC, which is also proposing a Sugar Creek casino. The Kansas City-based group has worked on Indian casino projects around the country and earlier this year applied to build a casino in Iowa, according to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. No information was available on their Sugar Creek proposal.

State gambling officials have said they'll make more details on the proposals available next week. They expect to hold public hearings in each project's area later this fall, and award a license by the end of the year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Copyright (c) 2010, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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