The city council in Sioux City went into a closed session Monday to discuss their strategy regarding the future of the Argosy Riverboat Casino. Penn National Gaming’s operating agreement with casino license-holder Missouri River Historical Development (MRHD) expires on July seventh.

Argosy Casino manager, Lance George, appeared before the council at the end of their public meeting and asked them to accept the offer his parent company has made. “I would urge the council to take Penn National Gaming up on the offer extended to Mayor Scott on April 14th and meet face-to-face to discuss the proposal currently on the table,” George said. “As a company, our goal remains consistent, find a near-term resolution that is beneficial to all parties involved.”

George said Penn National has agree to a new downtown casino at an undisclosed site with a $100-million investment. Mayor Bob Scott disputes the amount George cited, saying most of that figure comes from existing or other sources.

“Existing machines are a third of the project, city commitment of some 35-million dollars is a third of the project, and your construction is a third of the project. So, in reality you’re putting up 35-million dollars worth of new money in the project, that’s all I’m trying to say. So just tell the public where the 100-million is if I’m wrong,”Scott said.

Scott told George it doesn’t make sense for the city to approve something that would move the casino off the river and pay the city less money. “At the end of the day we cannot accept a proposal that pays us less 20 years from now than what we’re getting today. And it’s very obvious, I’ll glady show you the numbers, we have them here,” Scott said.

Councilman John Fitch said no one on the council has anything against Penn National, but the council’s top priority is to look out for the best interests of city taxpayers. The Racing and Gaming Commission told the two sides in March that they want them to reach an agreement by their June meeting. The boat could close down without an agreement.

By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City