Thursday, the three groups trying for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's Woodbury County gambling license had to prove they have the finances to build their proposed casinos.
After drawing names, Ho-Chunk Inc. started the meeting. CEO Lance Morgan said their project to create a Warrior Casino & Hotel is estimated at $122 million. They'd use city tax increment financing for $25 million and debt financing for $58 million. Morgan touted that they have up to $40 million already committed from investors, such as the Shakopee Mdewakanton tribe.
"Probably one of the most successful gaming tribes in the country. They run the casino known as Mystic Lake in Minneapolis. They've agreed to contribute $20 million in equity to the project," said Morgan.
Ho-Chunk anticipates they'll have an extra $30 million in contingency funding.
Sioux City Entertainment's Hard Rock Casino was next. CEO Bill Warner said it'll cost more than $133 million. To pay for it, SCE would look for $5 to $10 million from local investors, secure a $90 million loan, look for $22 million in city TIF, $10 million from gaming manufacturers, and $6.5 million from a partnership with Stoney Creek Inn to construct a 60-room Hard Rock hotel.
"We've been confident in our financing from day one. I think it's just a good thing to be able to lay it out there for the commission to be able to understand the details and the financing. Also, to understand that it is far in excess of what we need to complete the project," said Warner.
Penn National Gaming, who's proposed two Hollywood style casino options costing more than $160 million a piece, kept things simple. They relied on their company's reputation and wherewithal, telling the IRGC they have "the industry's best balance sheet" and require no third party financing, or municipal incentives.
"We didn't mention TIF's. We didn't say the lawyers have to work on agreements and dot the I's and cross the T's. We are here to tell you we can write the check and we want to do it," said Vice President of Business & Legal Affairs Carl Sottosanti.
After the presentations, IRGC Chairman Jeff Lamberti said all three groups met the criteria they were looking for.
"We just want to see ability to finance based on the proposals that they put forth. I think all of them met that minimum threshold. I didn't see any big red flags," said Lamberti.
The next step is in January. Each group will have 45 minutes to present their proposals to the IRGC in detail. The commission will choose who gets the gaming license April 18th. For a complete timeline, click here.