While legislators get ready to debate expanding the number of state-licensed casinos Thursday, the leaders of the Meskwaki tribe in Tama announced plans to double their casinos size.Tribal operations director Larry Lasley says plans for the expansion were interrupted by the leadership dispute that shut down the casino for several months. Lasley says the expansion is not a direct response to the potential expansion of state-sponsored gambling. He says, “There has been various plans proposed regarding expanding the casino, so this is not something that is just a recent phenomenon for the tribe.” He says it’s just another phase of the ongoing development of the entertainment complex. Lasley says they do want to be sure the keep ahold of their current clientele. He says the possibility of the expansion of other casinos like Prairie Meadows (in Altoona) obviously has an impact on their business. He says they need to prepare for those possibilities. Lasley says the expansion is also a way to make what they already have more enjoyable for customers.He says they want to maintain their market share, but he says they also want to “enhance the gaming experience here at Meskwaki.” Lasley says tribal members will be asked to approve the expansion in a vote in the next 60 to 90 days. If approved, the expansion could be completed by the spring of 2006. The project plans include expanding the hotel 650 rooms and increasing the slot machines to three-thousand. They would also add a 500 car parking garage, a dinner theatre and convention center. There would also be the potential to add a child care center and a retail outlet. The project could mean an additional 400 permanent jobs to be added to the 13-hundred already in place.
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