State regulators approved a project Thursday to allow the new land-based Davenport casino to proceed. The Racing and Gaming Commission approved the plan for the Rhythm City Casino to extend a road to the property. Casino general manager Mo Hyder says the road is key to everything moving forward. “It kind of sits right at the intersection of (Interstates) 80 and 74 on the southwest corner and there’s really no access to it. So, until that road is built, you really can’t get to it to do any construction work,” Hyder says.
Hyder says building the road is the first part of the plan to relocate the casino. “Part of that process is to do the groundbreaking on August 20th, start extending the road, and then get the footings in place sometime early in spring,” Hyder explains. He says it will take around one year to get the casino built once the footings are in place.
One of Hyder’s colleagues says tying the access road into the casino will create a corridor to other businesses that is similar to the Jordan Creek Development in West Des Moines. He agrees. “We’ve seen a significant and tremendous amount of development in that corridor over the last five to ten years and we are excited to be a part of that,” Hyder says. “We think our facility is going to serve as an anchor for that location as well, really attract people into our community. So, I think that it is going to be an excellent location.”
Hyder says one thing the land-based casino will do away with is the need to handle flooding from the Mississippi River. “I think that’s going to be really nice, I think that it’s going to be good for the community, it’s going to be good for our employees and good for our customers not to have to be threatened by the rising waters every year,” according to Hyder.
The casino was out of action for a time this spring when the floodwaters came up. “Because of the safety of our employees and customers and the access to the property, we shut it down. And it was shut down for about two weeks until the water was at a level where there was safe access to the property,” Hyder says. He says they paid the employees during the two weeks the casino was shut down. The Racing and Gaming Commission has pushed for a land-based casino in Davenport, as has the city, to better compete with an Illinois casino just across the river.