Argosy casino needs new city lease to stay open - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Argosy casino needs new city lease to stay open

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© The Iowa "The Boat" faces another premature closure if its lease with the city expires January 29th. © The Iowa "The Boat" faces another premature closure if its lease with the city expires January 29th.
SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

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.

The city says they're pushing the issue hard because they care about the Argosy jobs in the balance.

"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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