The Iowa Racing and Gaming
Commission says they want to keep Sioux
City's Argosy Casino running until a new downtown
casino is open. But "The Boat" faces another premature closure if its
lease with the city expires January 29th.
The lease covers the three percent of
casino revenue the city gets in lieu of letting the Argosy dock just off I-29
in Chris Larsen Park.
Without it, city attorneys say the casino could close, putting more than 300
out of work.
City officials say for almost a
month they've been trying to get the company that owns the Argosy, Penn
National Gaming, to have serious negotiations about the lease. The city says
they need something concrete by early December, because the Argosy is in an
urban renewal district. That means state law requires at least a month long
process to get any agreement approved.
says they're pushing the issue hard because they care about the Argosy jobs in
"We have been
consistent in asking them (Penn). Please, please, please can we at least
telephone conference with the leadership, not just attorneys or representatives
at a lower level, but let's have a meaningful conversation because we care
very, very, very much," said Sioux City City Manager Paul Eckert.
On the other side, Penn National
says they've already made a proposal. They say on October 25th, they asked the
city to keep the lease the same until the IRGC awards their new gaming license.
The city says that offer only
amounted to a few sentences in an email; they want something more substantial.
Penn says they've had scheduling
challenges to negotiate the lease, but they're confident it will get done.
"There have been
scheduling conflicts, which I acknowledge have been frustrating, but again it's
in no way a reflection of lack of interest, lack of intent, or lack of
desire. Our feeling is, we're hopeful
that the extension will get done," said Penn National Gaming's Public
Affairs Vice President Eric Schippers.
City officials confirmed late Thursday,
Penn and the city have agreed to have a "serious" phone conference
about the lease. City Manager Paul Eckert says it's planned for sometime in the
middle of next week.
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