We're still about five weeks from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission awarding the license to operate Woodbury County's land-based casino. The three contenders continue to make their cases to the commission, and to the community.
Penn National Gaming, which operates Sioux City's Argosy riverboat casino, has two proposals, both "Hollywood style" facilities. One plan calls for a casino, downtown. The other puts a similar facility by the Port Neal Interchange, near Salix.
Ho Chunk, Incorporated is backing a plan to renovate the Warrior Hotel into a casino-hotel complex.
And, Sioux City Entertainment has plans to turn the Battery Building into a Hard Rock Casino-Hotel.
The plans all boast strong support. But, local leaders have had to tread carefully, and try not to sway public sentiment.
Larry Clausen, Woodbury County Supervisor says, "Is it my place to, you know, pick where the location of the, the land-based casino? No, it's not."
But, Larry Clausen does have a vested interest. He's a county supervisor, and can see the benefit of Penn National's "Hollywood Casino" in the county near Salix. He's also the county board's representative on the board of Missouri River Historical Development, which is the non-profit partner with Sioux City Entertainment, the company courting a Hard Rock Casino.
"Whoever gets the license, they'll have the major say in where this is going," said Clausen.
Clausen says, no matter where the new casino will go, everyone will benefit. He compares it to CF's $1.7-billion expansion of its Port Neal plant.
"That's gonna be fantastic for the county. But, it's gonna be 5 or 6 years before we start seeing any income. And, see a reduction in our taxes," says Clausen.
Fellow supervisor Jackie Smith agrees with Clausen on the casino's impact.
Jackie Smith, Woodbury County Supervisor says, "Wherever it goes it's gonna be a good deal."
Smith is also on the MRHD board, creating a possible conflict for her, too. But, Smith says she won't favor one proposal over another.
"Remaining neutral, I'm very comfortable with that, and that's the correct position to take in my opinion," said Smith.
After a public hearing, and a visit to the four possible casino sites, on March 26th, members of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will vote at their April 18th meeting in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
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