IRGC: Argosy Casino has to stop all gaming by July 1; Commission - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

IRGC: Argosy Casino has to stop all gaming by July 1; Commission voted unanimously

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Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission
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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KTIV) - All five of the Iowa Racing and Gaming commissioners voted in favor of denying an extension of the gaming license to the Belle of Sioux City, which will close the Argosy casino's doors.

The decision came down at the IRGC meeting at the Ameristar Hotel and Casino in Council Bluffs Thursday morning.

That means the 21-year tradition of riverboat gaming, in Sioux City, will end summer of 2014.

And, as far as state gaming regulators are concerned, today's decision is a long time coming, and it's time to move on.

The five IRGC commissioners have heard their share of arguments from the attorneys representing the Belle of Sioux City over the last couple of years. But Thursday's meeting marked somewhat of an end to the controversy, according to commission chairman Jeff Lamberti.

"We finally made a final decision and it's kind of time to move on in our mind, anyway. We had made an indication that we wanted to keep the facility open as close as possible to the opening date of the Hard Rock, and I think we've done that with our decision, and we're really prepared to move on," Lamberti said.

However, representatives of the Belle of Sioux City, who were at the meeting on the part of the Argosy, told commissioners the issue wasn't over. 

"I don't think that there is any timetable for closure that is fair to the hardworking people at the Argosy facility," Mark Weinhardt, Belle of Sioux City attorney said.

During the public comment section of the meeting, Mark Weinhardt, the Belle of Sioux City's attorney, said the IRGC's decision was "potentially fatal" to the business climate of the state of Iowa.

"What has happened in Sioux City is a red flag for other potential operators and current operators as to how they may be treated by the commission, and I think that could scare capital away from this industry in our state," Weinhardt said.

But Lamberti said the IRGC didn't take the decision-making process lightly regarding the gaming license in Woodbury County after the contested case hearing in March. 

"We went through the better part of a day and a half of testimony and so forth, so we spent a lot of time prior to issuing our decision," Lamberti said.

Lamberti said that just because the commission had come to their own decision, they won't be taking the matter lightly in court.

The general manager of the Argosy, the manager of the Hard Rock, and the board president of Missouri River Historical Development, Sioux City's nonprofit licensed to operate gambling games, were in the crowd for the announcement.



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COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (KTIV) - The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission denied the Belle of Sioux City's application for an extension of the Argosy Casino's gaming license.

That means the boat will have to close its doors on, or before, July 1, 2014.

The general manager of the Argosy, Lance George, the manager of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Todd Moyer, and Missouri River Historical Development board president, Mark Monson, were all in the room when IRGC chairman Jeff Lamberti read the commission's decision.



It, effectively, closes down gaming operations at the Argosy.

But, none of the men showed emotion as the decision came down.

The decision came at the Ameristar Hotel and Casino as a part of the IRGC's monthly meeting, Friday morning.The six commissioners voted unanimously to deny the Argosy the legal right to continue operating as of July first.

That followed testimony from the Belle of Sioux City representatives during a contested case hearing, last month.

At that hearing, an administrative law judge, and the five IRGC commissioners, listened to the Belle of Sioux City's concerns regarding the Argosy's gaming license.

Specifically, the concerns aver the IRGC's decision to give that license to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

However, after all of the hearings and controversy surrounding the single license in Woodbury County, Lamberti said it's time to move forward.

"We finally made a final decision and it's kind of time to move on in our mind, anyway. We had made an indication that we wanted to keep the facility open as close as possible to the opening date of the Hard Rock, and I think we've done that with our decision, and we're really prepared to move on," Jeff Lamberti, IRGC chair said.

Lamberti did say that they'll continue to participate in the legal matters as necessary. They're not disregarding the importance of those matters, but that this matter is now considered over following the commission's decision.

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