A Polk County Judge decided Thursday that Sioux City's floating casino will stay open until she's made her decision about the most recent matter brought to the Iowa courts.
All of the players in Woodbury County's legal battle over the gaming license were in the courtroom once more on Thursday, as the Belle of Sioux City argued that their casino, the Argosy, was wrongfully ordered to close.
Back in April, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said that they would no longer allow the Argosy Casino to operate on the faith of the law, and said that they must close by July 1.
They based that decision on the fact that the Belle no longer has a nonprofit partner, which is required by Iowa law.
"There is no bait and switch here. The facts are very simple, and that is, they lost their operating agreement with the charity, with MRHD. Once that was lost, they could never, ever continue as a casino. They've continued on the good graces of the IRGC; the IRGC has decided they don't have an operating agreement, and they must close," Guy Cook, Sioux City Entertainment.
However, that very operating agreement is one of the main sources of contention with the parties. While MRHD President Mark Monson testified before April's decision that he and the MRHD board knowingly allowed their license to lapse because they no longer wanted to partner with the Argosy, the Belle maintains that there's still a connection there.
"We believe that we have an operating agreement with MRHD. We always have believed that. We believe that that agreement is effective until 2015. We're just looking for the courtroom in which we can fully litigate that question and prove that we're right," Weinhardt said.
The representatives for the IRGC, MRHD, and Hard Rock Hotel and Casino owner Sioux City Entertainment all said before Judge Eliza Ovrum Thursday that there was no operating agreement; therefore, even if Judge Ovrum decided the IRGC made the wrong decision in closing the Argosy, the boat still can't reopen because they have no nonprofit partner.
"We think it's the right thing to do. It's the right thing for Sioux City, and it's the right thing for the boat. They've lost at every turn, and it's time for them to shut their doors," Cook said.
However, the Belle's representatives say they're optimistic with Thursday's arguments and they still believe they have a fighting chance.
"She has worked very, very hard. It's a very complex case, and that's why she's not going to rule from the bench, and she's going to deliberate about this carefully. We look forward to that decision," Mark Weinhardt, Belle of Sioux City said.
Judge Ovrum told the attorneys in the room that she hopes to have a decision by early next week. Until then the Argosy will remain open. While all parties patiently wait, the dice will continue to roll inside Sioux City's floating Casino.
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