CAPE GIRARDEAU—Doug Austin, a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board and also Bethany Baptist Church here, is thankful to have participated in what looks to be a successful petition drive to force a vote on casino gambling in Cape Girardeau.
Austin is a spokesman for Quality of Life in Cape Girardeau, a group that delivered 1,551 signatures to city hall July 6. That combined with the 1,394 valid signatures delivered June 22 should be more than enough to put the issue on the Nov. 2 ballot, Austin said. A total of 2,635 signatures is required.
All signatures were required to be from registered voters living within Cape Girardeau city limits, according to the Southeast Missourian. The petitioners needed signatures equal to 15 percent of the vote cast for governor in 2008 to force the vote, the Southeast Missourian reported.
“We realized from the very beginning this is a Cape Girardeau decision. We have always known our strength is in the citizens,” Austin said at a July 6 city hall meeting.
Once the signatures are certified sometime in July, Austin is excited to begin the campaign to demonstrate Cape’s opposition to casino gambling. The encouragement that the steering committee received while interacting with more than 3,000 supportive citizens during the process has been uplifting, he said.
“I’m very confident that we will defeat it,” he said, citing the 67 churches in town and the city’s propensity to supply volunteers for many programs that help people, as opposed to a casino’s propensity to take money away from people.
The move became necessary because gambling interests have indicated a desire to relocate an existing license from the St. Louis area to Cape Girardeau based on a 1993 vote to approve casino gambling in the city. A previous vote that year rejected casino gambling. The upcoming vote in November is meant to break the tie and communicate the city’s current opinion on the matter. It would come as the Missouri Gaming Commission is in the final stages of considering applications.