Only one of four proposed casino projects was given approval at a May 13th meeting of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Lyon County’s proposal was unanimously approved, while proposals from Fort Dodge, Ottumwa, and Tama County were unanimously rejected. The entire evaluation process took approximately six months. It is unlikely that the commission will consider issuing any more licenses for at least three to five years.
The only casino to be granted a license will be built on the border of Iowa and South Dakota (Lyon County). It will cost approximately $120 million and will include a luxury casino and golf resort. Also included in the plan is a 100-room hotel, spa, events center, and show lounge. There will be a ten acre lake adjacent to the property. The 207-acre complex will be managed by an Iowa based company—Kehl Management. The complex is tentatively set to open in the summer of 2011. The Lyon County casino is projected to create 700 jobs and have an annual payroll of $13.5 million. The first year’s gambling revenue is projected at $70 million with a total revenue of about $80 million.
The other three casinos were unanimously rejected. The rejected Fort Dodge casino was a $56 million complex that adversaries claimed would compete with and hurt Emmetsburg’s existing casino. The rejected Tama proposal included a $45 million hotel and casino and was opposed for similar reasons by the Meskwaki Indian Tribe who feared the competition would hurt the current Tama County casino. The last rejected proposal was for a $55 million casino in downtown Ottumwa. There were concerns voiced about the ability of the developer of this casino to raise the necessary money to construct the facility.
Governor Culver supported approval of all four projects citing job creation and the desire of the residents of those counties as his reasons. The Lyon County casino will be the state’s 18th state-regulated casino. Iowa also has two casinos operated by Indian tribes.