Do You Think Cape Will Approve Gambling Casino?

The Missourian has been spilling a lot of ink (electrons?) lately yammering about the possibility of a gambling casino coming to Cape. I haven’t been paying much attention to it.

There was a story in Wednesday’s paper saying that developers are swooping in to nail down options to buy property north and south of downtown where a casino MIGHT go.

MO Dry Dock not in play yet

I was encouraged to read this in The Missourian story:

South of Highway 74, the biggest single property owners, Robert Erlbacher and his sister, Elizabeth Dombrowski, own more than 46 acres adjoining the river that is home to the Missouri Dry Dock. “At this time, we have had no contact with any gambling operation in any way nor do we expect any contact in any way,” he said.

I would hate to see something that’s been such a part of Cape Girardeau’s legacy for so many years be turned into a gambling casino.

Gallery of photos from Mo Dry Dock

I was intrigued by the big stacks of propellers in the yard outside the dry docks. I couldn’t resist popping in to take a few quick shots. (I didn’t see any No Trespassing signs on the gate, but I have to admit that I didn’t look really hard for one.)

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.

14 Replies to “Do You Think Cape Will Approve Gambling Casino?”

  1. The Missouri Dry Docks property is important to Cape history in two ways. The first is obvious due to the current business that has been there for many years (my grandfather drove a truck for them for a long time).
    The previous occupant(s) were a series of railroads that had shops including a roundhouse, numerous other buildings and a water tower for steam locomotives; beginning with the Southern Missouri and Arkansas Railroad (one of the Houck lines) and ending with the St. Louis – San Francisco Railway (Frisco). Those interested in some of the history can visit and search for the key words Cape Girardeau. There is a long thread and lots of information about Cape on that forum.

  2. I don’t believe that a casino will make Cape Girardeau a better place to live or visit. Thay certainly haven’t improved or contributed positively to the Kansas City area. They produce a net drain on the local economy. People drop a lot of money in them and very little of the revenue they generate makes its way back into the local monetary stream. The money lost in the casino could have been spent on local goods and services that spread the impact on more people.

    1. I don’t disagree. There are enough other casinos within driving distance of Cape that I think most of the business will be from regional, if not local, folks.

      Any jobs that are created are likely going to be low-paying service positions.

      A single casino isn’t going to make Cape a major gambling destination. I can see someone trying to make vacation plans: Cape…Vegas…Cape…Vegas….

  3. Ken,

    I do not gamble but know so many that go out of town to take their chances and I believe that our area sure could use that money here in Cape. Just drive down Broadway to see all the empty buildings that could be opened if more people came down town.

    I hope the group of people trying to stop it does not succeed. I remember when as a young person living here in Cape, there was a car company wanting to bring their manufacturing company here but a few wealthy was opposed bringing that bad influnence into our area. Their children could stay here and was set up in business by parents but the ones not so fortunate children had to go to other areas to find work.

    1. Catherine,

      I don’t want this to get too far into the debate about gambling vs. non-gambling, but I’m not sure that a casino will bring that much business to Cape.

      My experience in Las Vegas is that the casinos do everything they can to keep you from leaving their establishments. There are no clocks and they do everything they can to keep you from realizing how long you’ve been there.

      That’s why the casinos have hotels attached, give you free drinks and provide comped or cheap meals.

      They don’t want you to leave until they have your last dollar.

      I don’t think gambling is going to fill up the empty buildings on Broadway. Coming into town, the tourists are wanting to save their money to gamble; leaving town, they aren’t going to have any left to spend.

      I’ve heard several folks bring up the idea that the Cape movers and shakers tried to discourage industry from settling in town, but I was so far from the movers and shakers that I don’t have a clue if that’s true.

      I remember The Missourian giving out silver dollars to anyone who would say they hadn’t been counted in the Census when Cape’s population was just shy of 25,000. Their reasoning was that towns with 25K population showed up in bigger type on road maps.

      With that booster mentality, I can’t see the local paper opposing growth.

  4. Having some experaince in gambling…I do not gamble myself, but I have had experiance with the gaming industry, the bottom line is this…You will get increased taxes from the casino…good for the town and the state.
    Some jobs will be created, but usually service jobs of medium pay. The developement around the casino is NEVER what people imagine. The Casino’s spend BIG money to keep you inside and surronding area’s geneally die after a year to two. The reason is simple, when you leave the casino you have NO money to spend.
    So if you need bump in taxes for the state and town you get it…everything else is a pipe dream…
    The social costs are what you expect, more of the bad things in life are encouraged, but you have more money in the town and State coffers to take care of them…
    So, I guess I feel strongly both ways…

  5. Prior to retirement, my last duty station with the Missouri State Highway Patrol was as an officer with the Missouri Gaming Division. I was aboard the casino located at Caruthersville for over two years. Before that I thought going to a casino was fun and exciting. However my time aboard the casino cured me from such enticement.

    Now that being said, I do not have any moral objection to the casinos or the people who patroinize them. It is adult entertainment and people should be able to make their own choices about patronizing a casino. I will say that gambling offers enticement to people with an addiction disorder. I was infrquently approached by family members who were at their wits end trying to stop their mother, father or spouse from gambling.

    The casino industry is not the devil trying to drain their patrons bank accounts. The mangement and employees are ordinary people just like you and me. The casino’s main source of income is from the fifty to one hundred dollar patrons, who visit the casino for entertainment and not the delusion of breaking the house.

    I choose not to patronize casinos because, I know that in finality, it is a loosing proposition. You often hear someone bragging about their winning trips but seldom hear about their loosing days.

    The city of Cape will make, more or less, a million dollars per year from boarding fees. I don’t offer this as an enticement because a million dollars doesn’t buy much anymore. What I do support about the casino is that it will bring hundreds of jobs to Cape. Many of the employees at Caruthersville commuted from far distances because they didn’t want to live in Caruthersville. Many of these new employees will become residents of Cape, purchasing housing and other goods and services. The wages may be considerd low but there are other considerations such as health insurance and secondary income. When I left the casino in 2002 many of the dealers made above thirty thousand per year.

    The biggest hurdle will be adquate access and parking. On a weekend night with a big name in the entertainment pavillion, our current traffic routes will be congested. What will it cost the city to improve the streets?

    I do not believe that prostitution and other vices will follow. If prostitution and other vices exist they are already here. It simply won’t be tolerated on or near the casino. Missouri is considered to be the strictest state in the union to locate a casino. The Gaming Division of the Missouri State Highway Patrol regulates and oversees ever aspect and operation of the casino from the general manager to the janitor. There will always be one or more troopers on board during gaming hours. The general operating officers go through an exhaustive and intensively deep background invstigations. All employees will be interviewed by the patrol and questioned in depth about their background.

    Finally I believe that a decision of this magnitude should be in the hands of the voters. The last vote was over seventeen years ago and somewhat dubious after the first vote failed.

    1. Thanks for the perspective.

      I agree that it’s worth putting to the voters to decide. A commenter in The Missourian pointed out that there’s been a lot of turnover in Cape in 17 years and that someone who was just under the voting age when it came up the last time is approaching middle age today.

      I’m going to predict that, if it passes, casino gambling in Cape will be neither the evil that some fear, nor the boon that others hope for.

  6. Another point I wanted to make is that, it is true that the bulk of the casinos profits will leave town. But is’t that also true for Best Buy and Wal Mart?

  7. Personally I do think it is short-sighted to expect a casino to be the end-all answer to any problems that people perceive that Cape might have. I would think a casino’s chances of surviving would be better as part of a bigger entertainment district – example: Laclede’s Landing in St. Louis. If the draw to a casino is primarily local, is it even feasible to expect success in a town this size? The gaming commission is going to award the license where they feel will generate the most revenue. Is there awareness at the state level of this potential in Southeast Missouri, given that a casino already exists in Caruthersville?

  8. I remember hearing stories from my childhood about the Purple Crackle having been a gambling establishment. According to the stories, located in a back room! I’m sure the Resturant/Bar with the option of gambling behind closed doors was a big draw in its days. In later years the Purple Crackle operated on its reputation of fine dining & continued to be successful. Its success & location did nothing for the surrounding area & left it depressed. Cape is a wonderful place to live, its historically a college town & there are still some nice places to shop downtown. I see no benefit for the City of Cape, local merchants & business, but agree that voters should decide. Keep in mind that the vote in Missouri to allow riverboat gambling was largely decided because of the tax revenue to benefit schools & education…how’s that working out, voters?

  9. Being a college town/med center may provide panache, but Cape’s three largest employers and land owners, SEMO, Southeast and St. Francis, contribute nothing to the tax rolls. Yes, they provide jobs, but much of the income generated by the employees is spent/invested outside of town.

    While it’s easy to oppose the concept of gambling, those against the casino should offer their plan for increasing yearly tax revenues by $4 million (Cape does not have to accept the first casino offer of $3 million).

  10. Back to Missouri Dry Dock. Some years ago one of the science channels, possibly Discover, was chronicling a trip down the Mississipi from Minneapolis to New Orleans. In one episode the boat’s propeller was damaged by a sunken log–not a new problem, see Mark Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi”.

    The boat put into Missouri Dry Dock for repairs and the show included several (too brief) shots of the old bridge and the riverfront.

  11. I served on a committee opposing “riverboat gambling” when it was on the ballot 17 years ago. I helped design some of the advertising, and I wanted to use the word “casino” instead of “riverboat.” I was voted down by other committee members who thought that was too inflammatory. Many voters of 17 years ago voted for an initiative that they thought might include fabled riverboats cruising the river.

    In fact, a land-based casino with a moat around it is what is now being proposed for Cape, with no illusion of riverboats cruising the Mighty Mississippi. At least we are telling the truth this time–sort of. Being located riverside is still a ruse. This summer, I have traveled to Kansas City twice, and I took detours through Booneville both times just to see that town and casino. As would be the case with Cape, a rail line and a strip of land separate the casino and the river. Water is pumped from the river and into a slender moat which encircles the land-based building. The river is not even visible from the casino, and few rooms in the adjacent hotel can boast even a sliver of water view.

    To say that downtown Booneville has anything over downtown Cape is simply misleading. Cape’s downtown is more fully occupied than Booneville’s, and Cape looks far better. Nightlife in Cape’s downtown does center around locally-owned businesses. That would not be true if a casino were located there.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *