The non-profit group that holds the license for the Argosy Riverboat casino in Sioux City is moving ahead with plans to seek the license for a new land-based casino. Missouri River Historical Development (MRHD) holds the riverboat casino license, but the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission opened up the license process for a new land-based casino after months of unsuccessful negotiations between MRHD (Merd) and current casino operator Penn National Gaming.

The commission approved a one-year operating agreement at their meeting last week, although Penn National officials said they wanted a longer-term agreement. MRHD’s board chairman, Mark Monson says the group voted Monday to keep the boat going.

“We had three actions this evening, one was to continue working with Penn, as the IRGC has told us we will, to continue operating. Penn National has yet to approve the contract that would keep the Argosy operating through March 31st. Monson says MRHD has been talking with Penn about that extension.

And he says they have formed a committee to evaluate the timetable and process to seek applications for someone to work with for the land-based casino license. “An operator who is interested in speaking with us would put together basically what they would do and the terms of doing it,” Monson said.

The board also approved spending up to $25,000 for the application process for the land-based casino. Monson expects Penn Gaming and up to eight other companies to apply to operate the land-based casino by the application deadline in November.. The chair of the Racing and Gaming Commission said the commission will work to keep the riverboat casino, and its 300-plus jobs, operating until the new land-based casino is ready.

By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City