Limiting Casino Competition
A committee in the Missouri House has heard a bill to keep the Missouri Gaming Commission from closing the President Casino (or any other casino) on “purely economic grounds.” The testimony makes clear the Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare into which the commission has placed the President Casino:
Some House lawmakers said the idea of “inadequate declining performance” seemed subjective and was a hard standard to interpret.
Rep. Vicki Englund, D-St. Louis County, questioned how the commission evaluates casino’s performance and asked lobbyist Jim McNichols, who testified on the commission’s behalf to explain how casinos could be expected to meet standards when they weren’t explicitly provided with standards to comply with.
McNichols said the commission works hard to involve casinos in the rulemaking process.
The Missouri Gaming Commission opposes the bill, but McNichols said he couldn’t speak to the specifics of the President Casino case because there was a pending legal matter.
This may strike some people as a crazy idea, but I think it should be up to the owners of a business to decide whether it lacks sufficient revenue to justify operating, not the decision of a government commission with no set standards by which it must abide. And, of course, if the President is forced to close, it is not only the casino’s owners, employees, and patrons that would suffer, but also gamblers at other casinos. Following the decrease in competition, casinos would be able to pay out a lower amount in winnings at the margin.
Missouri Gaming Commission Executive Director Gene McNary got right to the heart of the matter in his written testimony when he wrote that passing the bill to keep the President Casino open would “neuter the commission and, in effect, take away our ability to regulate Missouri’s gaming industry.” I doubt he shared my view that this would be a positive development, however.