Gambling on the future: Cape Girardeau casino - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Gambling on the future: Cape Girardeau casino

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

The Isle Casino recently celebrated its third year anniversary in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

There were mixed feelings early on about what gaming would mean for the city and if casino officials could deliver on the promises made on the front end.

The $10 million in casino tax revenue made by city has produced results in just three years.

The city has made enhancements to downtown and Broadway Street, opened a dog park, and developed the Greater Cape Girardeau Business Park that landed Pepsi Mid-America.

Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger said so far there have been at least 12 to 15 small projects around town, but he said there are much bigger project are in the works.

Rediger says $3.6 million has already been designated to public safety.

Part of that money will be used to produce improvements to police and fire communications, implement e-ticketing software and even contribute to the new future police station.

Rediger said that's just scratching the surface.

“We are looking forward and very confident that the city of Cape Girardeau and Isle Casino will continue to enjoy a great relationship,” Rediger said.

The casino promised to bring 450 jobs.

Isle is just shy of that and currently employs 445 people.

Chuck Martin with the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates more than 30 percent of the casino attendees come from outside a 45 mile radius.

Martin calls it a great asset to the city, but some, like Doug Austin, feel differently.

“I don't want my success to be predicated on someone else's failure,” Austin said. “It's never right to do the wrong thing and I recognize some of the things that have been done with that money.”

Austin opposed the casino from the beginning, and three years later his feelings stand firm.

“I'm not upset,” Austin said. “My heart is broken, but my resolve is strong.”

While Austin's stance stems on religious faith, gambling addiction can also come with the casino in close proximity.

Gambling addiction counselor Rick Strait said he hasn't seen an influx, but has worked with about five patients where the casino has been a factor.

He has known some clients lose everything.

“Close to about $100,000 in debt,” Austin said. “Most of his children had kind of disowned him at that point.”

According to the Missouri Game Commission, 61 people have signed onto the voluntary exclusion list in Cape Girardeau since Isle Casino opened Oct. 30, 2012.

Strait was not surprised.

“Sometime it is kind of family pressures,” said Strait. “We're not doing that anymore. You got to stop gambling so go sign yourself off the boats. So they do that. That way they can't go back on the casinos any place in Missouri and it's probably easier than seeking counseling.”

While there is a downside, Mayor Rediger said crime is down in the area surrounding the casino, which was an initial concern among citizens.

Click here to learn more about the new city projects paid for by casino money.

There are also resources available to help those who suffer from problem gambling or take the gambling addiction quiz.

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  • Do you think Cape Girardeau is in a better or worse place since Isle Casino opened its doors?

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