A new "Catfish Bend Casino" in Burlington is opening today.
Gary Hoyer, the operation’s CEO, says the corporation plunked about $50 million down for the new casino and surrounding facilities. The casino covers about 30,000 square feet and Hoyer says it features "the latest" in gaming technology.
"It’s a real homey, a real comfortable feeling facility that does not have a lot of gaudiness or flashiness," Hoyer says. "It’s just something unique to Iowa."
About 750 people are working today at "Catfish Bend" casinos in Burlington and Fort Madison, as well as the FunCity family entertainment venue linked to the properties. According to Hoyer, a new hotel, a new restaurant and a spa should open within the next four weeks in Burlington. Hoyer estimates about 900 will be employed in the two casinos and attached facilities once all venues are open.
Governor Culver just signed a bill into law that removes the stipulation that state-licensed casinos in Iowa must float on water. "The law changed a little late for us, so we do have the water feature," Hoyer says. "We are the moored-barge facility that was previously approved by the Gaming Commission."
The facility is one of 13 state-licensed casinos now operating in the state. Back in 1989, voters in the Burlington and Fort Madison areas approved having a casino in their counties. The first casino boat to operate in the two markets was called "The Emerald Lady" and it docked in both cites. In November of 1994, the "Catfish Bend Casino" began operating in Burlington and Fort Madison.
Today, there are permanent structures in both cities and both are "Catfish Bend" properties.