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Iowa casinos give back to communities


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The softer side of riverboat gambling is the money that flows back into the Quad-Cities from the Iowa-side paddlewheelers. Folks who enjoy gambling on the boats, like The President Riverboat Casino in Davenport, are probably not thinking about the money from casino earnings that will go back into the community as grants to nonprofit groups.

A fountain for Bettendorf's Leach Park.

A holiday lights tour for seniors.

European paintings for the Davenport Museum of Art.

Computers for Head Start kids.

Just about everybody in the Quad-Cities can benefit from one of those items or the thousands more financially supported by the nonprofit groups linked to Iowa casino riverboats.

Before any Iowa casinos opened April 1, 1991, state lawmakers required them to give some of their proceeds to the communities where they dock. The amount of money available for distribution depends on the number of passengers boarding the boats and profits.

Illinois gaming law includes no such mandate.

Three local Iowa casinos and the non-profit organizations that hold their gaming licenses have contributed $ 25,399,327 to the area since they opened nearly seven years ago. Prospective grant recipients generally submit applications totaling more than the amount of money available. Committees decide which projects will be funded.

Since Iowa casinos opened, each non-profit contributed as follows:

-- The President Riverboat Casino: Riverboat Development Authority, $15,721,056.

-- Lady Luck Casino Bettendorf: Scott County Regional Authority, $6,133,183.

-- Mississippi Belle II: Clinton County Gaming Assn., $3,545,088.

``It's great to be associated with the Riverboat Development Authority because it's one way to let the citizens of Scott County reap some of the benefits of riverboat gambling,'' board member Gary Mohr said recently.

``We contribute about $3 million a year back into the community,'' he said. ``We give money to groups who have no other place to go to get dreams funded. It gives me a real feel-good feeling to be able to serve on the board.''

The Riverboat Development Authority distributes its money among three categories: riverfront, economic and neighborhood development and tourism; arts, culture, heritage and education; and human services.

The Scott County Regional Authority also distributes to public and private schools and colleges, governmental organizations and nonprofit organizations.

The Clinton County Gaming Assn. funds economic development growth and tourism.

-- By Carol Loretz (February 9, 1998)

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