Timeline of casino gambling – STLtoday.com


May 13 • The Missouri Legislature narrowly passes House Bill 149, authorizing a referendum to go on the November 1992 ballot to allow riverboat casino gambling, with the state’s tax share earmarked for education. Opponents include Gov. John Ashcroft.


Nov. 3 • Missouri voters approve the referendum with almost 63 percent of the vote. Rules include a $500 loss limit and a requirement (with exceptions) that the casinos be situated on riverboats that cruise during gambling sessions.


April 29 • Gov. Mel Carnahan signs into law an amended version of what voters approved the previous year.


Jan. 25 • The Missouri Supreme Court rules that the new law doesn’t give the state the authority to operate games of chance, only games of “skill.” The ruling specifies blackjack as one such game. It effectively prohibits slot machines, which are generally the most popular games in casinos. The state’s fledgling casino industry scrambles to pass a constitutional amendment to address the ruling.

April 5 • Missouri voters defeat the proposed constitutional amendment that would have allowed games of chance, including slot machines.

May 27 • The state’s first modern casino gaming sessions take place in the President Casino on the Admiral at St. Louis and on the St. Charles Riverfront Station Casino (which later becomes Ameristar-St. Charles). With games of chance still illegal, the boats offer only “skill” games, which include blackjack, poker and craps.

The Argosy-Riverside, St. Jo Frontier Casino and Harrah’s-North Kansas City all are licensed in subsequent months.

Nov. 8 • On the second attempt, Missouri voters approve a referendum (Amendment 6) changing the state constitution to allow casinos to offer games of chance, including slot machines.


Casino Aztar at Caruthersville (which later becomes Lady Luck) and Sam’s Town Gambling Hall at Kansas City open.


Hotel Flamingo Casino at Kansas City opens (later becomes Isle of Capri).


Nov. 6 • The Missouri Gaming Commission rules that casinos can remain open around the clock on holidays and weekends.

Kansas City Station (which later becomes Ameristar-Kansas City) and Harrah’s Casino at Maryland Heights (which later becomes Hollywood Casino) both open.


Nov. 3 • Missouri voters approve Amendment 9 to the state constitution, retroactively approving the move by some casinos to put their riverboats on artificial inland moats rather than on rivers. An earlier state Supreme Court ruling had declared that the “boats on moats” couldn’t have slot machines or other games of chance. The gaming industry spent an estimated $10 million on the publicity campaign that nullified that ruling.

Sam’s Town Gambling Hall at Kansas City closes.


May 26, 1999 • The Missouri Gaming Commission votes to test “open boarding” at some casinos, allowing passengers to board at any time rather than having to wait for two-hour intervals between faux cruises. (None of the riverboats are actually cruising by this point.) Opponents worry it is the first step toward eliminating the $500 loss limit, which the industry denies.


June 27 • Gov. Carnahan signs a bill, backed by the casino industry and gambling counselors, to provide education and treatment for compulsive gamblers. It’s initially predicted to be funded at $500,000 a year. The industry’s gross receipts that year are about $978 million.


Mark Twain Casino at LaGrange and Isle at Capri-Boonville open.


Dec. 19 • Lumière Place at St. Louis opens.


Nov. 4 • Missouri voters pass Proposition A— backed by a multimillion-dollar campaign by the casino industry — to eliminate the $500-per-session loss limit. The measure also caps the number of casinos allowed in the state at 13, and raises their state tax rate from 20 to 21 percent.


The Missouri Gaming Commission rules that compulsive gamblers who have voluntarily put themselves on the state’s lifetime exclusion list to be barred from casinos can apply to get off the list after five years.


March 1 • River City Casino opens in St. Louis County.

June 24 • The President on the Admiral, the state’s first modern casino, closes. An attempt to sell the riverboat fails, and it’s later cut up for scrap.


Oct. 30 • Isle Casino-Cape Girardeau opens.


April 1 • Tropicana Entertainment of Las Vegas takes ownership of the Lumière casino near Laclede’s Landing, along with its two hotels, from Pinnacle Entertainment.

April 29 • The Legislature approves SB741, which would allow Missouri casino patrons to gamble on credit. It’s designed to apply only to well-heeled high-rollers, setting a $10,000 minimum credit line and other rules. The bill awaits action by Gov. Jay Nixon.

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