The owners of state-licensed casinos in Davenport and Osceola announced plans today to answer concerns raised at their license renewals in March. The vice president of the Isle of Capri Casino in Davenport told the Racing and Gaming Commission his company has reached an agreement with developer M-S-E-G to negoitiate to sell the casino.
City officials identified M-S-E-G as their preferred developer, and Isle V.P. Ed Quatmann says they are trying to work out an agreement.
“The terms were quite frankly, hard for us to swallow, we understand what the city is trying to accomplish, we said we would be cooperative, and we have been,” Quatmann said.
He says the deal gives the developer 60-day exclusivity to work out an agreement. Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba says they look forward to seeing development of a downtown casino plan. Gluba says he is delighted that the Isle of Capri has moved ahead with their developer. “Because for far too long we felt that we have been treated as an afterthought in Davenport,” Gluba said, “revenues have declined every year, attendance has dropped.”
Gluba says the Isle of Capri had decided to put its main focus on it’s other eastern Iowa properties, which caused Davenport’s casino to lose money. He says the state and local governments are losing about 25-thousand dollars a day because of “failure to develop this boat the way it should be and to compete.”
Gluba says the developer promises to make a Davenport record investment of 75-million dollars into a new hotel and casino in the Davenport area. Quatmann said the 60-day negotiation period will run into August, but he says if they are close to an agreement they would continue talking.
The non-profit organization that holds the license for the Terrible’s Lakeside Casino in Osceola had complained to the commission in March that the owners were not doing anything to upgrade the casino to compete. The casino owners responded today with a 10-million dollar plan to upgrade the facility. Architect Pierce Cody presented the Herbst Gaming plan which he says adds to the current hotel.
Cody says the plan includes a 90-bed expansion to the existing hotel, and the current 60 rooms will be refurbished. They will include amenities along the water, such as an outdoor stage and amphitheater. Contractor Brent Cooper says they are seeking the appropriate permits and would like to start construction as soon as possible.
Cooper says they are prepared to break ground on July 11th and would start pouring concrete in early August. He says the goal is to have the wood structure up in October and be enclosed by January, so they would be able to work inside during the bulk of the winter. Clarke County Development Corporation attorney Doug Gross, says they are pleased the company has followed through .
Gross says this was the first they had seen the project they don’t want to hold up the project and don’t have any objections to it. He says they are pleased with the aggressive timeline for the improvements. Gross says the improvements are a good step to addressing their concerns.
Gross says they still have an issue that the non-profit gets only one-and-a-half percent of the gross gaming revenue. He says that amount half of what other non-profits get and less than half of the statutory minimum set by the legislature in 2004. Gross says that means less of the casino money stays in the community.
The manager of the casino said they inherited many problems from the previous owner, and are trying to work with the non-profit as they move ahead. The Racing and Gaming Commission gave the casino the okay to move ahead with plans and will vote on their final approval at its July meeting.