Governor Vilsack signed the gambling expansion bill into law Thursday, opening the way for the state’s horse and dog tracks to add table games to their slot machines. Bruce Wentworth, the general manager of the Dubuque Greyhound Park and Casino, says his facility already has an expansion in the works. Wentworth says the track was given approval in January to expand its slot machines from 600 to one-thousand, and those plans were underway. He says in the meantime the specter of tables games came up and they adjusted their plans to include them with the hopes that the table games would be approved. Wentworth says the timing worked out so the didn’t have to start the expansion process from the beginning. He says they were able to adjust the plans before pouring concrete or building walls, and he says that turned out to be a fortunate event. He says they hope to open on Memorial Day 2005 with a larger casino. Wentworth says the changes will allow Dubuque to offer everything their competitors have. He says it allows them to compete with riverboats as a full-service casino, and also includes video poker and black jack. Wentworth says they’ll up to 100 employees with the expansion. At the Prairie Meadows horse track and casino in Altoona, spokesman Steve Berry says they’re also working on changes. He says there’ll be several steps, the first is putting in some table games in the existing space. He says over the next year and a half or so they’re working on expanding the space at their building. Berry agrees that the table games are important to competing in the gaming industry.He says they’re a great compliment to what they already have. He says they have horse players and slot players, and he expects new players to come for the table games. Berry says they’ll expand their staff along with the building. He says they’ll add 300-plus jobs. Operators of the greyhound track in Council Bluffs will also be able to expand to install table games. The Council Bluffs track, like Dubuque, has also already received approval to expand to put in more slot machines.
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