HISTORY OF HB1287
Missouri Special Committee Soft on Casino Violations
April 2, 2007
HISTORY OF HB1287
On March 28, 2007 members of CW attended a Missouri Gaming Commission Meeting at their headquarters in Jefferson City. These meetings are open to the public and for the most part this one went pretty smoothly. Until, that is, Ameristar Casino was hit with a sizable fine for an infraction fully investigated and acted upon by the Missouri Highway Patrol. (Regulations are a serious matter in the casino world and fines are common as casinos sometimes are known to bend the rules or not follow them at all.)
As the commissioners were voting to approve the fine, one of the commissioners suggested that the fine be increased. It was discussed, and then voted on and approved. The amount of the fine was $100,000.
The Ameristar people were unhappy with this turn of events and asked for permission to discuss the matter, but the Commission said no, they would need to follow the procedure for an appeal if they so desired.
Special Committee on General Laws
On March 30, 2007 State Rep. Shannon Cooper (R) filed HB1287 which limits the Missouri Gaming Commission to issuing only very small fines to casinos. He filed the bill on behalf of the people at Ameristar Casino because of a fine they received a few days earlier. Pretty fast work if you ask me!
The story illustrates how much influence a casino can have on state government. In just a few days HB1287 was scheduled for a hearing before the Special Committee on General Laws. Mark Andrews, Casino Watch Chairman, testified in opposition to the bill defending the appropriate fines levied by the Commission and the authority of the Highway Patrol and Commissioners to regulate casinos.
Here's why. Fines are of no use if they are so small they don't get your attention. A parking meter fine of $3.00 doesn't bother us too much, but a $400.00 fine for speeding does. Casinos make 6000 times the annual wage of the average Missourian. So a parking meter fine to them would be $18,000 and a speeding fine $2,400,000! Rep. Cooper's bill would limit most fines to between $5,000 and $10,000, mere chump change! Amazingly, during discussions, most members of the Special Committee on General Laws sided with Rep. Cooper, complaining bitterly about the actions and qualifications of the Gaming Commission members.
*Players International, accused of paying extortion money to get a casino license, agreed Wednesday to get out of the Louisiana gambling business and pay a U.S. record gambling industry fine of $10.2 million.
Las Vegas Sun/December,1999
*Pinnacle in 2002 was fined $2.2 million by the Indiana Gaming Commission in the wake of allegations the company's Belterra Casino Resort outside Cincinnati provided prostitutes at a golf outing for high rollers.
Loss-limit repeal may be tied to tax boost/By Rick Alm/ WWW.KANSASCITY.COM/3.8.05
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