Three groups have submitted proposals to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to build a land-based casino in Sioux City to replace the current riverboat casino there. The commission opened up the application process after months of battling between the non-profit group and company that run the riverboat.
Penn National Gaming which operates the current riverboat casino submitted two proposals in an effort to keep the gambling license. One proposal would locate a casino south of town near the Port Neal exit on Interstate 29. The $167-million proposal includes a 150 room hotel.
Penn’s second proposal would put the casino on a 10 acre site in the downtown area. Ho Chunk Incorporated has submitted a plan for a downtown casino.
Ho Chunk C.E.O. Lance Morgan says the $120-million project would convert the historic Warrior Hotel into a modern casino and hotel. “Redoing sort of a Sioux City landmark and restoring it and turning it into something sort of spectacular has a lot of appeal to not just us, but a lot of people we talked to,” Morgan says.
“We did some surveys around the community and our responses were overwhelming, I was surprised by it myself.” Ho Chunk would partner with a non-profit group called “Siouxland Strong” made up of several community member, which Morgan declined to name. He says the group would have a major impact on the community.
“If we were to give larger amounts to community development or economic development projects, we could have a bigger impact. You know the power of money is consolidating into a big enough mass that you can make a change,” Morgan explains. ” Trickling out a few thousand dollars to small organizations is nice, but it’s not going to impact Sioux City. So we think the non-profit has a chance to really stimulate the local economy.”
The third proposal from Sioux City Entertainment and the current non-profit license holder, Missouri River Historical Development, would bring a Hard Rock Casino and hotel with a 30-foot high glowing electric guitar shining over the city atop a local building. The proposal would include a live entertainment venue, outdoor beer garden, three restaurants, two retail outlets and an outdoor event arena.
The 60-room Hard Rock Hotel would be a joint venture with Stoney Creek Inn. Each group will make detailed proposals to the Racing and Gaming Commission and the commission will make a decision on one of the proposals at its April meeting.
By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City