Argosy's fate impacts city and county budgets - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Argosy's fate impacts city and county budgets

Thursday, the Iowa and Racing and Gaming Commission unanimously decided the Argosy would close as of July 1st.

That decision came after a long legal battle between Argosy's parent company Penn National Gaming and the IRGC over the denial of their gaming license.

This means funding from gambling revenues could come to a halt in Sioux City.

That's actually something Woodbury County has been dealing with for more than a year, and gambling revenue is supposed to contribute to both the city and county budgets.

"It goes to our general fund, which is used to do all of our basic services," Sioux City's Finance Director Donna Forker said.

The city receives about $2 million annually from the riverboat casino. City officials said if the Argosy is forced to close its doors by July and the new land-based casino isn't open yet, that gap in not receiving gambling revenues shouldn't hurt their budget.

"Our large general fund budget has enough cushion in it that it won't make a material effect on our budget," Forker said.
Woodbury County has already been facing a lack of funding from casino money. The county is supposed to get $75,000 each year from the Argosy through a non-profit partner. But, that funding is now being held due to litigation between the Argosy and their former non-profit Missouri River Historical Development.

"We've had to use different revenue streams in order to make up for that shortfall," Woodbury County Supervisor Larry Clausen said.

MRHD is now partnered with the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Larry Clausen, who sits on the Woodbury County Board, and is a member of MRHD, said the new deal between MRHD and Hard Rock is set to bring in the same amount they should be getting from the Argosy's non-profit partner.

"We should have the same arrangement with the Hard Rock that we have now through MRHD, only hopefully, we'll be getting paid," Clausen said.

City and county officials said, even though, it's not good for any community when 300 plus jobs are lost, the Hard Rock will offer new jobs, and will be a benefit to the area.

"Having a development down using the battery building is something that we've been looking forward to for a long time and now that it's going to happen, this will help anchor downtown," Forker said.

"I think it's going to generate much more revenue. Its going to create, for MRHD, more dollars to go to the non-profits around town, which is a great thing," Clausen said.

MRHD's President Mark Monson said their new agreement with the Hard Rock is estimated to bring in about $4 million for non-profits. While, their former deal with the Argosy, before they got tied up in litigation generated about $1.8 million dollars for local organizations

Sioux City's Finance Director said the city is contributing $22 million to the Hard Rock project in increments of $5.5 million.

They've already made two progress payments. The next payment is due when the construction is 60% certified completion, and the final payment will be paid on certificate of occupancy.

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