Riv ready to show Mo

Aug 27, 2002 5:52 AM

Could Missouri handle being called the Ozark Riviera? The Riviera Holdings Corp. would like to think so.

The company that operates the Riviera Hotel & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip is applying for a license in Missouri. Regulators will soon consider a proposal by Riviera to build a $150 million casino about 20 miles south of St. Louis.

Riviera recently received local approval to launch a casino, but rival corporations such as Capri Casinos and Ameristar have been on file with the Missouri Gaming Commission for more than a year.

If approved, Riviera officials could begin building next year and be completed by late 2004 or early 2005. Missouri is the only state in the nation that limits how much gamblers can lose in casinos. The loss limit is $500 per simulated boat cruise.

About 60 percent of the state’s gambling revenues are generated by slot machines. However, this month’s launch of the Ameristar Casino St. Charles could help boost revenues statewide.

Des Plaines hot item

Add Des Plaines to the list of Chicago suburbs that have attracted casino developers for possible future gaming sites.

Des Plaines joined Waukegan and Summit in wanting to partner with gaming developers, but no deals have been signed. More alignments are likely by the end of September.

City officials in Des Plaines heard from MGM-Mirage Inc., adding further evidence that casino groups are circling the area to nail down sites.

"The sharks are swimming," said Rev. Tom Grey, an anti-casino activist and head of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. "This is a gold rush everybody is going to be in.

Maine plan mixed

Former Maine Gov. Kenneth Curtis is pitching for a multi-million dollar casino venture, but reaction to the planned mega-resort is mixed.

Councilor Vincent Keeley called the casino idea "the best thing that has ever come down the pike for Biddeford." However, Councilor Clement Fleurent was skeptical over estimates that 4,000 jobs would be created.

Casino supporters plan to meet with Sanford officials Sept. 10. Two Indian tribes want to open a casino in Southern Maine, but need the state legislature to pass a law granting permission. All four gubernatorial candidates have said they would veto such a law.

Pataki keeps word

New York Gov. George Pataki did not back off at the last minute and followed through with his promise to sign the compact that clears the way for Las Vegas-style casinos in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

"This has been a long and difficult haul, but it’s worth it," Pataki said.

The compact sets the rules for the Seneca Nation to operate New York’s first casinos with slot machines, including one Buffalo, one in Niagara Falls and one in Western New York.

"The real evidence (of success) is across the bridge in Niagara Falls, Ont.," said Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, D-Niagara Falls.. "I think anybody who looks at all the activity would admit there’s going to be jobs."

ALSO: The Bozeman (Montana) City Commission voted 5-0 to exempt casinos and bars from a smoking ban.