Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Missouri Gaming Commission: Ex-Pinnacle CEO Guilty of Bad Behavior, Innocent of Crime

Posted By on Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 4:35 PM

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You can bet that ex-casino boss Dan Lee would like to take back a few things he said to Steve Stenger and Charlie Dooley.

Early last month, when Lee was the CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment, the Vegas-based company that owns and operates three casinos in the St. Louis area, he planted his foot firmly in his mouth when he angrily told Stenger -- at a public meeting no less -- that the county councilman had "made the worst mistake of his political career" by voting to allow a Pinnacle rival to build another casino in North St. Louis County.

If that wasn't enough, he then called up the County Executive and left him a message threatening to halt construction on the company's new casino in Lemay and withdraw promised funding for a county air show and fireworks display.

(Oh no! Anything but the fireworks display!)

The outbursts, which Stenger later characterized as an attempt to "muscle" him and led to Lee's resignation as Pinnacle's CEO, prompted a joint investigation by the Missouri Gaming Commission and the Missouri Highway Patrol.

The inquiry is over now and Lee has been cleared of any wrongdoing. But that doesn't mean he didn't act a fool.

The Post-Dispatch has the scoop on its Political Fix blog:
...investigators concluded that Lee's outburst was "an isolated incident" and that he broke no laws or regulations.

"He was mad," said Gaming Commission Executive Director Gene McNary. "He's head of a company that has made a substantial investment, and the councilman has voted for his competitor. Those aren't threats. That's the expression of, 'How can you do this to us?'"

Lee was represented at today's hearing by his attorney, Jim Deutsch of Jefferson City.

"There's no question the behavior was inappropriate," Deutsch said after the meeting. "The fact is, everybody has a bad day. Dan had his. Not all inappropriate behavior is a violation of statutes or regulations, and they're not authorized to punish bad ideas or bad behavior."
Lee gets to keep his Missouri Gaming License but will have to pay $16,800 -- the equivalent of 3,360 losing hands of $5 blackjack at Lumiere Place -- to cover the cost of the state's investigation.

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