Davenport delays gaming license presentation


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Originally Posted Online: Feb. 06, 2013, 11:16 pm
Last Updated: Feb. 06, 2013, 11:37 pm
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By Stephen Elliott selliott@qconline.com

Davenport officials now hope to bring a proposal for a land-based, city-owned casino to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's April 18 meeting.

On Wednesday, members of the Davenport Community Improvement Corp. — a nonprofit group formed by the city to oversee the casino's operations — discussed the steps needed to make the IRGC presentation.

City officials initially had hoped to bring the proposal to the IRGC's March 7 meeting. Documents still needed for the project have yet tobe signed. But on Wednesday, Davenport City Administrator Craig Malin, a member of the DCIC board, said he now hopes to be able to present "the whole package" of Davenport's casino proposal to the IRGC in April.

Davenport officials want to buy the Rhythm City Casino from its owner, Isle of Capri, and move it off the Mississippi River to an undetermined location. Buying the casino will cost the city $46 million to $51 million, depending on where it is moved.

Once Davenport buys Rhythm City, the casino's assets would be leased to the DCIC. The city also would choose a development partner for the new casino and approve any development agreement with the builder.

Questions about the plan remain among members of the DCIC and the Riverboat Development Authority — the nonprofit group which holds the state's gambling license in Davenport — over the roles and responsibilities of each group.

The DCIC is tasked with selecting a casino operator/manager to run the daily operations.The DCIC also must reach an agreement with the RDA on how much it will pay the RDA for use of the gaming license.The RDA uses its annual share of adjusted gross receipts from the Davenport casino to provide grants to nonprofit and civic groups.

Last week, the Davenport City Council approved entering into negotiations with Ingenus Management Consulting and Financial District Properties on a development agreement. Included in the $105 million Ingenus/FDP proposal is acasino/hotel on 300 acres of land at the intersection of Interstates 80 and 280, as well as asmaller casino downtown.

The city also will look at other potential casino managers, said DCIC chairman Kelli Grubbs, including Restoration St. Louis, of St. Louis, which has submitted a $155 million proposal for a downtown casino.

"We (DCIC) certainly feel like it's important to look at all the potential operators," she said.

RDA president Mary Ellen Chamberlin, a DCIC member, said it also is possible that a management team from Rhythm City Casino could be considered.

On Wednedsday, DCIC member John Roche suggested they conduct background checks of potential casino managers to ensure financial strength and management expertise.

Ms. Grubbs said there has been confusion because of the multiple organizations and legal requirements.

"I'm not sure that was ever communicated very clearly when we started the process," she said. "It has been a learning process."

Mr. Malin also announced Wednesday the Isle of Capri is contemplating having the DCIC as a signatory on the city's purchase agreement.Ms. Grubbs said that would be helpful to the DCIC board members.

"A lot of that goes to the issue of existing (Rhythm City) employees — what their positions are, what their expertise is and how those people could potentially funnel into future employment, if that's the route we go," she said.


















 



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