Gamblers from Minnesota are heading south in such large numbers that the new Iowa casino in Worth County has been given approval to expand after only three months in operation. The state Racing and Gaming Commission today (Thursday) approved an expansion of the Diamond Jo Worth County casino that’ll allow operators to add 30-thousand square feet, 300 slot machines, 11 table games, a buffet, poker room and entertainment area.
General manager Jesus Aviles says in the first three months they’ve already hit over half of their projected yearly goals for gambler visits. He says the initial projection was for an annual visitation of 600-thousand visitors, and in the first three months, they’ve already had 343-thousand visitors, or 53-point-7-percent of their projection.
Aviles says they’re also set to go well beyond the revenue projections. Aviles says the projection was 32-million, and they’ve already taken in 17-million — so the casino is on a pace to double the revenue and visitor projections. Aviles says big numbers are expected in the early weeks of any new casino — but Aviles says the numbers continue to hold steady.
With fourteen weeks of operation, Aviles says they’ve seen the revenue stabilize. He says the best place to look at the stabilization is slot machine utilization. Aviles says a good measure to determine the need for expansion is when you 60-percent utilization of slots in peak times. He says in down times they’re averaging 75 to 76 percent utilization, and in the peak times they’re averaging 93 and 94 percent utilization. Aviles says there are sometimes long lines for the slot machines and if they don’t expand, those gamblers might go elsewhere.
Aviles says they’re reaching gamblers from 100 miles and more north of the casino. Aviles says 70-percent of the gamblers are coming from Rochester and the northern part of Minnesota. Aviles says the Worth County casino offers things like table games that the Native American casinos don’t offer.
Aviles says they’ll get started on the 20-million dollar expansion immediately. Aviles says the expansion will allow them to double their original projection of 32-million dollars in revenue in their first year.
Aviles says the casino’s location off Interstate-35 near Northwood is the perfect location as it’s just a short way from the intersection with I-90, which stretches east to west across Minnesota.