Central Location Of Proposed Ozarks Casino Should Prevent In-State Cannibalization

Written By Adam Hensley on June 21, 2024
A map of Missouri with the Lake of the Ozarks in the center of it

A casino in the Lake of the Ozarks could soon be a reality.

Pending referendum approval, Missouri residents are expected to vote in November on adding a 14th casino in the state.

One of the concerns could be that the Ozarks casino would siphon dollars from one or more of the other casinos in Missouri.

However, that shouldn’t be a concern, as its isolated location, hours away from Missouri’s largest cities and other casinos, guarantees it won’t cause industry cannibalism.

Location, location, location …

Despite the rising popularity of casino gambling over the last few years, it’s been more than a decade since a new riverboat casino opened in the Show Me State. The only other way Missourians can play casino games is through sweepstakes and social casinos online for fun. Lawmakers have yet to pass legislation for traditional online casinos in Missouri.

If a casino is built down the street from another, it would certainly impact the existing casino.

That’s not the case with a casino in the Ozarks.

The closest major city to the Ozarks is Kansas City, which is at least two and a half hours away. KC is home to a handful of casinos. The other major city in Missouri, St. Louis, is a three-hour drive from the Ozarks. Most of the casinos in the state are in and around St. Louis.

Furthermore, 12 of the state’s 13 casinos are at least two and a half hours away from the Lake of the Ozarks. The closest casino is the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Boonville, an hour-and-20-minute drive from the Ozarks.

Tourists the target of Ozarks casino

Lake of the Ozarks thrives on tourism dollars. Although there are only about 92,500 permanent residents, a Missouri real estate vacation rental company, Your Lake Vacation, estimates 2 million people visit the Ozarks each summer.

That means roughly 95% of people in the Lake of the Ozarks area each year are tourists.

It stands to reason that a casino in the area wouldn’t draw people away from other Missouri casinos. Rather, it would be viewed as an enhancement to the already flourishing area.

There’s plenty to do in the Ozarks, from boating to fishing to recreating. A casino would simply be another entertainment option. By itself, it would not be a major draw.

Sure, if Missouri residents vote in favor of a Lake of the Ozarks casino, many will travel to the area to check it out. But it’s safe to assume that most customers would either be Missourians coming to enjoy the many amenities the Ozarks offer or tourists from outside Missouri.

Either way, the existing casinos in the state have nothing to worry about.

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Adam Hensley

Adam Hensley is a journalist from Des Moines, Iowa, with experience covering online sports betting and gambling across Catena Media. His byline has appeared in the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated and sites within the USA Today Network. Hensley graduated from the University of Iowa in 2019 and spent his college career working for the Daily Iowan’s sports department, both as an editor and reporter.

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