DAVENPORT -- Mary Ellen Chamberlin, president of the Riverboat Development Authority, said Tuesday she wants to see the authority get a bigger share of income from gambling if a new operator takes over from the Rhythm City Casino.|
Ms. Chamberlin, speaking after a closed meeting at which authority members discussed their strategy for dealing with any propspective new casino operator, said more revenue and a downtown location are important factors to the authority.
The RDA, the entity that holds the Davenport gambling license, gets 4.1 percent of Rhythm City's adjusted gross revenue or $2 million per year, whichever is greater. The money goes back into the community through grants to various agencies and governments
In November 2011, RDA approved 48 grants totaling $1,002,500 to community organizations, bringing the total since gambling began in 1991 to about $53 million.
Rhythm City Casino, owned by Isle of Capri, has been for sale for more than a year.
In Janaury, IOC representatives told the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission it had several parties interested in taking over the Davenport operation.
Before any agreement is completed, the RDA must sign off on it, according to Ms. Chamberlin.
The RDA board went into closed session Tuesday to discuss what it wants to see in any contract agreement with a potential buyer of the Davenport casino.
"We want an agreement to present to a potential developer," Ms. Chamberlin said afterward. "We want to be prepared if and when something happens. We won't become involved until such time the casino and the buyer reach a purchase agreement.
"At that time, the RDA comes into the loop."
Ms. Chamberlin said what the RDA would like to see is more revenue.
The importance of a casino agreement was emphasized at Tuesday's meeting when a presentation was made by Kyle Carter, director of Downtown Davenport Partnership. Mr. Carter said the partnership takes in about $226,000 annually from the RDA and uses it for downtown renovation, various public events and other projects.
Mr. Carter said the Downtown Davenport Partnership would like to be part of any future agreement with the RDA and a casino buyer. Mr. Carter said 58 new businesses have opened up in downtown Davenport from January 2010 to this month, and the Downtown Davenport Partnership has played a role in that.
St. Louis-based IOC operates Rhythm City Casino, a floating 29,082-square-foot casino on the Davenport riverfront. The city wants to get rid of riverboat gambling in exchange for a land-based gambling operation.
Ms. Chamberlin said the RDA, a nonprofit organization, prefers a downtown location for a land-based casino.
"It's kind of a waiting game until some someone comes up with a deal with Isle. The whole purpose of riverboat gambling was to help rebuild downtowns."
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