April decision expected on Argosy's gaming license after IRGC he - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

April decision expected on Argosy's gaming license after IRGC hearing

Full room at Prairie Meadows for the IRGC/Penn National contested case proceeding. Full room at Prairie Meadows for the IRGC/Penn National contested case proceeding.

ALTOONA, Iowa (KTIV) - After two days of testimony, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has delayed a decision on an appeal of its denial of a gaming license extension for the Argosy Casino.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's contested case hearing, held as a part of their normal public hearing, was called by the Argosy Casino's operator, Belle of Sioux City, about a decision, by the IRGC, not to renew the Argosy's license to operate.

Attorneys for the state said the decision to deny Belle's application was simply because the Belle had no "qualified sponsoring organization", or QSO, to operate with, which is required by the state of Iowa.

"There is one question that must be answered before you can go into any other matter in this case, and that is: Is there, one, a QSO, two, that is licensed to conduct gambling games, and three, at the location of the Argosy Casino," State of Iowa Representative said.

Prior to that date, the IRGC temporarily renewed the Argosy's license on the condition that Belle work out an operating agreement with their QSO at the time, Missouri River Historical Development. However, Belle's attorneys said the problems reach much further into the tumultuous past of the operating agreement between Belle and MRHD.

"In June of 2012, the commission opened up Woodbury County for new applicants, for a new license. But I submit to you, and all of you know, I think everybody really knows, that the Belle's fate was pretty much sealed," Chris Tayback, Belle representative said.

Belle representatives cited a letter from a MRHD representative to a Belle representative in late April of 2013, after MRHD and Sioux City Entertainment had been granted the gaming license in Woodbury County. In that letter, MRHD told Belle that as the only licensed QSO in the county, they deserve the funds the Argosy owed to a nonprofit... and Belle says that shows an inconsistency by the IRGC in who had the license. But the IRGC says they had nothing to do with that discussion.

"I was copied on this letter. It was action that the commission never took any action on. We were never involved in these conversations; in fact, it was one of the few lawsuits that the commission was not a party to," Brian Ohorilko, IRGC Administrator said.

After four hours of testimony and closing arguments, Wednesday, the commissioners went into an executive session, then moved to have the judge draft a decision. They say that will likely be made public at their next public hearing in April.

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