A group of developers is starting the long process of trying secure a state license for a casino in the far northwest corner of Iowa.
Lyon County Economic Development director Glenn Anderson says that area near the tiny town of Larchwood is an excellent location because it’s close to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. "Sioux Falls is growing. They’re growing in the neighborhood of 1500 to 3000 people, I understand, a month," Anderson says. "…The growth of Sioux Falls is headed towards their east, which is on our west side."
The proposed $90 million casino and resort near Larchwood would be just eight miles from South Dakota’s largest city. Anderson says Lyon County interests are partnering with Kehl Management, which has a casino and golf resort south of Iowa City, near the small town of Riverside. "We didn’t want people from outside who (didn’t) understand Iowa people and we also wanted a resort situation," Anderson says. "We didn’t want to put up a tin building and say, ‘Here, we have this casino.’ That’s not what we want to portray to our county and outside of our county."
The proposed casino site is near Interstate 29 and Anderson believes the casino would prompt more travelers to stop in Lyon County. "Stay overnight. Enjoy a golf match. Go to a concert. Enjoy some entertainment and those type of things. Stay, spend your money in Lyon County and have a great trip when you leave," Anderson says, "and by doing that — that’s called economic development."
Lyon County voters will be asked to approve a gambling referendum on September 23rd. If the referendum passes, the casino’s still not a sure thing. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would have to grant the developers a state license and the panel is waiting to conduct a gambling study to determine whether they’d award any new licenses.