The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved a move Thursday to allow the consolidation of three casinos under the management of one company. The Riverside casino, the Grand Falls casino in Larchwood and the Rhythm City in Davenport are now all part of the company called Elite Casino Resorts.
Dan Kehl already managed the properties individually and says the combined management has several advantages. “Most importantly economies of scale and cross-marketing amongst the three properties. It also provides a lot of opportunities for us in terms of operating efficiencies and costs save on financing for new construction of the new casino,” Kehl says. The company is building a new land-based casino in Davenport to replace the riverboat there.
He doesn’t expect the corporate change to lead to any changes in the number of employees. “Property level management will remain the same,” Kehl says. “Each property will be individually managed with the same amount of employees we currently have. I don’t expect to hire any more people on the corporate level at this point.”
Kehl says they expect to see savings in the things they buy for the day-today operations. “One is food purchases, insurance, general corporate overhead. Those are some expenses that we’ll definitely be able to save,” Kehl explains. “Just as important — it creates a company that gives a lot stability for all three properties. So if one property falters or has issues in their market, the other two properties will be able to keep that one shored up.”
Kehl left the Racing and Gaming Commission meeting in Sioux City Thursday to drive across the state for the groundbreaking at the site of the Davenport land-based casino that’s at intersection of Interstate 80 and Interstate 74. “We have a 12-month construction schedule, and we anticipate being open by Memorial Day of next year,” Kehl says.
He says the new location has several advantages over the riverboat as he says being out on the interstate provides more visibility and should help increase the gaming revenue. Kehl says the Elite Casino Resorts employs more than 15-hundred people and generates more than $225 million in revenue each year — making it the second largest gaming company in the state. And he says it is solely owned by Iowans.
The Kehl family was the first to get an Iowa riverboat license in 1990.