Argosy denied in attempt to stay open - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Argosy denied in attempt to stay open


The Argosy has been denied yet again in an attempt to stay open past the closing date of next Tuesday.

The Belle of Sioux City continued exhausting their administrative appeal options, requesting a last-minute stay of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's decision to close the Argosy Casino July 1.

The IRGC denied the request, even though this time, the Belle was just asking for time for Judge Ovrum to make her decision in district court.

"Allow her in a reasonable, careful way, to make the decision we're going to put in front of her tomorrow," Mark Weinhardt said.

However, as John Lundquist with the Iowa Attorney General's office addressed the commissioners at a special meeting at Prarie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, he said the Belle had plenty of time in the last two months to address the pending closure.

"But to sit here and say that we're facing an emergency, that the judge doesn't have adequate time to rule, is simply a monster of their own creation," Lundquist said.

Weinhardt said a casino-less month for the city of Sioux City would be a gamble for Woodbury County's gaming industry.

"Why on earth wouldn't you have the closing and the opening dates right next to each other?," Weinhardt asked.

But, Lundquist said the Argosy simply doesn't have the right to operate anymore, due to the fact that they no longer have a nonprofit partner.

He recalled former nonprofit partner Missouri River Historical Development's president Mark Monson testifying in April that they were secure in their plans with someone else.

'Yes, we were approached by Belle. They wanted us to sign this application. We made a purposeful decision that we were not going to sign this application,'" Lundquist said.

After the commissioners debated behind closed doors for just 24 minutes and denied the request, Weinhardt said he was disappointed, but still optimistic about the case they would present in Polk County Court Thursday morning.

"On the one side, you have that the Hard Rock maybe makes a little less money for a short period of time; on the other hand, you have 260 people who are all going to lose their jobs," Weinhardt said.

IRGC Chairman Jeff Lamberti said their decision was a matter of consistency and upholding state gaming law.

"Any time you pick a date, it's going to be a hard issue, and we know it affects people. But, whether it's today, whether it's the end of July, whether it's September or October depending on court action, that day was going to come. We just think we need to uphold Iowa law," Lamberti said.

While this is pretty much the end of the road for appeals to the IRGC, Weinhardt said they quote "live to fight another day," and the court proceedings will continue.

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