The racing and gaming commission approved an ambitious expansion plan for a northeastern Iowa casino. Dubuque Greyhound Park and Casino got the go-ahead for a plan to spend more than fifteen and-a-half million dollars on the project. General Manager Bruce Wentworth has no doubt there’s a gambling crowd big enough to fill the new space.He says the Dubuque gaming market has grown since 1997 from 62- to 91-Million dollars, about a 47-percent increase in the market that he says the gaming facilities in the area haven’t taken advantage of. A recent study crediting border-crossing gamblers with the higher traffic at eastern Iowa casinos comes as no surprise to Wentworth. About half his business comes across Dubuque’s 2 bridges, he says, more from Wisconsin than Illinois. The casino manager says Dubuque certainly saw the effect of the closing of the Meskwaki Bingo Casino in Tama from last May through December. He says there was about a 7-percent impact that lasted six months and helped his casino’s bottom line, but he says it also helped state coffers since Dubuque Greyhound Park is taxed whereas the Indian casino pays no taxes. Wentworth does sympathize with residents of Tama. The casino also got permission to add 400 new slot machines, though Wentworth admits it took some persuasion to convince the commission it won’t violate the state’s cap on new gaming licenses.
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