The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission meets today to hear three separate plans for a new casino in Sioux City.
Mark Monson is with the non-profit group that’s partnered with developers who hope to open a “Hard Rock Casino” in Sioux City. He says the project carries a kind of “wow factor” that has captured the public’s attention in Sioux City.
“If you have a t-shirt on that says, ‘Hard Rock Sioux City’ they want to buy it from you, or tear it off you,” Monson says, with a laugh. “We’re just excited about the concept.”
This particular plan calls for renovating an historic downtown Sioux City building. Another investment group led by the Ho-Chunk tribe is proposing a casino and hotel that would be centered around Sioux City’s historic Warrior Hotel. The third application comes from Penn Gaming, the operators of Sioux City’s current casino boat. Penn’s plan calls for a Hollywood-style casino in either downtown Sioux City or a rural area nearby.
According to Monson, about five percent of gamblers who had been going to the Sioux City riverboat have started to go to the new land-based casino north of Sioux City, in Larchwood.
“I believe a good operator could bring that back,” Monson says.
Woodbury County voters first approved of gambling in the Sioux City are in 1989, but the Sioux City Sue didn’t begin operating until 1993.
“It is a different time. We have a proven market,” Monson says. “We think that it is a very lucrative market.”
Monson’s Missouri River Historical Development group had a falling out with current operator Penn National. Penn has sued Monson’s group for breach of contract, plus Penn has sued the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for putting the Sioux City license up for bid. Penn National Gaming operates 29 gambling facilities in North America, including 14 casinos with a Hollywood theme.