The National Cattle Congress — owners of the defunct Waterloo Greyhound Park — today joined with the Meskwaki Tribe to ask state regulators for a new casino license to reopen the track and build a new casino nearby. “The tribe is excited to be a partner in this effort to bring a casino to the (National Cattle Congress) property,” says Larry Lasley, the Meskwaki’s executive director of tribal operations. “We believe this application is of unparalleled strength.” The tribe would have a 45 percent ownership stake in the facility. “Being a reserved people, when we say that we are excited to be a part of this project, we certainly mean it,” Lasley says. The Vegas-based firm that runs the “New York New York” casino would manage the facility. Waterloo native Lorenzo Creighton, a former deputy director of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, is now president of New York New York Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. “We feel that we can have a rebirth of live greyhound racing in northeast Iowa, specifically Waterloo, Iowa,” Creighton says. Last night, two other groups sought a license to operate a new casino in Waterloo. A total of 10 groups are making appeals to the state Racing and Gaming Commission yesterday and today for new casino licenses. Today’s second pitch came from a group seeking a license for a casino in Riverside, just south of Iowa City in Washington County. Dan Kehl, the son of long-time Iowa boat operator Robert Kehl, is heading up the project. “We’ve learned a lot of things over the last 15 years, one of which is a casino as a stand-alone attraction worked well as tourist destination in the early ’90s when Iowa was the only game in town but as the industry has matured and other states have come on line, we need to have other amenities associated with (our) facility and so we’re proposing to build a first-class, championship golf course as part of our project,” Kehl says. The golf course would be designed by Reece Jones, a famous name in the industry who often “doctors” or redesigns the courses on which the U-S Open is played. “I intend to build a world-class golf course, something that’s really never been done, hopefully, in this region, yet it can be played by the best in the game…but it can be enjoyed by all and I think that’s why it is going to attract so many people to drive afar to come to this golf course and casino,” Jones says. The final group to speak with regulators this morning came from Franklin County, where backers hope to place a boat in a rural area along Interstate-35. Part of the plan is to build a big truck stop nearby. Annette Renaud, the just-departed executive director of the Franklin County Development Association, served as the moderator for the presentation. “This project is much more than a casino. It is a destination resort,” she says. “It includes a beach area, restaurants, Iowa shops, convention rooms, entertainment complex, a hotel and so much more.” This afternoon, folks from Fort Dodge, Worth County and Palo Alto County will make their presentations to the Gaming Commission. In May, the panel will decide which, if any, groups get a new casino license.
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