UPDATE: Testimony over in legal fight between casino owner and g - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Testimony over in legal fight between casino owner and gaming regulators

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV)- More tense testimony, Thursday, about Sioux City's gaming license, and who should have it. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, or the Argosy Casino.

Penn National, known as the "Belle of Sioux City" for this lawsuit, is challenging the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's refusal to extend the Argosy Casino's gaming license.

Arguments, Thursday, in Polk County District Court surrounded a December 2013 ruling by Judge Hansen who put the Hard Rock's gaming license on hold. Sioux City Entertainment says construction is so far along that stopping it would halt progress for Sioux City. "It's devastating to the city of Sioux City, it's devastating to the hope for financial economic benefits to come from downtown development, it's devastating to the economy of greater Sioux City," Guy Cook, SCE representative said.

Belle of Sioux City argues that Sioux City Entertainment had plenty of warning about potential legal problems and only continued to build to make the court's decision harder. "In August, they start to do something of substance which would appear to be irreversible, which is they start to break ground. Upon seeing that, we realized, wow, they really are paying no heed to the legal uncertainties surrounding the license that they're acting on," Mark Weinhardt, Penn National representative said.

CEO Bill Warner was called to the stand, and said their project would suffer irreparable harm if they had to wait for a license. The Belle of Sioux City representatives argued that he could have halted construction at any time. "Interesting that we're here talking about the gaming industry, because they made a gamble, and here it is: if they could start building, and build as fast as they possibly could, they could show a judge pictures of what they've built," Weinhardt said.

But, Sioux City Entertainment said it were only acting on orders to provide a casino to the city. "The fact of the matter is, this man and his company are trying to honor the responsibilities and obligations placed upon him in working in partnership with the city, to comply with the deadline to open this casino to avoid penalties, and do everything that's been asked of him. And he's done that," Cook said.

The judge will take today's testimony under advisement, and issue a written ruling at a later date.


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DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) -- Testimony has wrapped up in the latest hearing related to Penn National's lawsuit against state gaming regulators over the Argosy Casino's gaming license.

KTIV's Kayah Gausman was inside the courtroom during testimony that started around 1 o'clock Thursday afternoon and didn't conclude until 5 o'clock.

The arguments all boiled down to one question: who legally deserves Sioux City's gaming license?

Three people represented Penn National.

Two more came from Sioux City Entertainment, which is building the new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission had two representatives, as well.

Lawyers for Sioux City Entertainment called CEO Bill Warner to the witness stand.

He argued that staying the gaming license already awarded to the Hard Rock would be quote "devastating to Sioux City, and the regional economy of Sioux City."

During a cross-examination, Penn National attorneys asked Warner why he and the Hard Rock forged ahead with construction quote "paying no need to the legal uncertainties surrounding their gaming license."

The decision by the judge will come sometime in the near future, and will decide the fate of Sioux City's gaming license.

If the court sides with Penn, it would overrule a decision by the IRGC to deny the Argosy Casino the renewal of its gaming license.

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