Wednesday was the deadline to file applications with the State Racing and Gaming Commission for a new gambling license and 10 applications were filed. One of the applications filed by the deadline asks for a license for Webster County while also supporting licenses in two other counties. James Kersten is the secretary of the Mineral City Hotel and Casino that would float in Fort Dodge. He says they’ve pledged to support the applications for Palo Alto and Worth County and he’s hoping they can show the commission they can all support a casino. Kersten says they’re hoping a show of cooperation will sway the commission. He says they feel the real intent of the legislature is to allow rural Iowa to participate in “this dynamic entertainment industry” and he says they want to let the commission know they have three viable applications. Kersten says the Kehl Company, which also owns casinos in Clinton, Fort Madison and Burlington, is the partner for running the Fort Dodge casino. He says it outlines an approximately 50-million dollars of investment along the riverfront in Fort Dodge that will include the hotel, casino and events center. And the company has also pledged one-million dollars to build an aquatics center in Fort Dodge. Kersten says there’ll also be benefits outside of Fort Dodge. He says the non-profit license holder, the Heart of Iowa Foundation, has agreed to distribute some 230-thousand dollars annually to all the surrounding cities in Webster County. He says they will also let communities in Webster and surrounding counties apply for 860-thousand dollars so they’re benefiting the whole north-central Iowa region. Kersten says this would be a big help in improving Fort Dodge. He says the city of Fort Dodge has been looking at revitalizing the riverfront and have secured several thousand dollars to do that. The Mineral City name for the casino by the way, comes from the city’s past history of gypsum mines. Kersten mentioned the Worth and Palo Alto County applications. There is one other application in Palo Alto County and there are also three applications from Black Hawk County, one from Washington County, and one from Franklin and Wapello counties. Jack Ketterer is administrator for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The licensing decision will probably come in late spring. Ketterer says based on what’s been submitted so far it’s difficult to compare the applications and their various merits. He says there’s no way to tell whether communities that submitted more than one application might get one or more approved, but he says there is a precendent for one city having more than one license. Scott County has two riverboat licenses, Dubuque county has a greyhound track and a riverboat, Polk County, the state’s second-largest metropolitan area, only has one. He says commission members will probably look at the information and the applications and make a decision. Ketterer says communities that have sent multiple applications possibly could get two licenses, or three — or none. The most important thing he says the commission and staff are looking for is honesty — they want the casinos run by the kind of people Iowans would like in charge, and if they’re not suitable, the commission isn’t likely to give licenses, no matter how many have applied. Ketterer says the investors and members that have teamed up to submit applications will all be checked out by the Division of Criminal Investigation commission, which will do personal interviews and also talk to their associates. He says that’s the most time-consuming part of the whole process. The applicants will do presentations before the commission, which will also hear comments from the general public. And he says they’d like to see each of the sites. The application fee is 25-thousand dollars, and each proposal also must be accompanied by a fifteen-thousand-dollar deposit toward the cost of the DCI background investigation. If the background investigation costs less than that they’ll get a refund, if it’s more they’ll be billed for the rest, but the 25-thousand-dollar application fee is not refundable.
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