One of the four new gambling licenses issued this week authorizes a riverboat casino in Palo Alto County, but an official from the Iowa Great Lakes just down the road rejects the idea that his region will lose once folks start streaming into that new casino. Emmetsburg is a 40-minute drive from the Iowa Great Lakes. Okoboji City Administrator Dennis Daley says resort and marina operators in his area aren’t worried about losing business to the nearby casino. Almost two years ago, voters in Dickinson County — home to the Iowa Great Lakes — turned down a casino referendum, by a margin of more than two-to-one. “Most of the people that I think voted against (the referendum) weren’t against gambling, they just did not feel it was needed in the lakes area given the fact that we have so many other things to offer besides that,” Daley says. He says a casino has more to offer a town like Emmetsburg, which hasn’t been a “destination” up to now. Daley says Emmetsburg’s city administrator is a friend of his. “I just talked to him and of course, he’s smiling from ear to ear,” Daley says. “I don’t think that it’s going to hurt the tourism here…we feel that Okoboji area here is a destination point,” Daley says. The license-winning proposal by Wild Rose includes building a casino along Highway 18 on the east side of Emmetsburg and also a hotel, R-V park, Irish pub, wetlands area, man-made lake, recreational area and trails.
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