The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission renewed the licenses for the 19 casinos it oversees during its meeting Tuesday in Altoona. The state issues one license to the gambling company to run the games, and one to a nonprofit organization to distribute the money they are required by the state to set aside.
Several members of the nonprofit spoke to the commissioners during the renewal process — including Dakin Schultz, president of Missouri River Historical Development, or MRHD. “Since August of 2014, Merd has received over 11 million, $500-thousand in funds to distribute as grants,” Schultz says. “We’ve granted over a million dollars in scholarships — with over half of that in the last two years alone.” He says he’s seen
other benefits from moving the casino from a riverboat to the land.
“Our relationship with the Hard Rock Casino Hotel has been very positive….some of the things that you see when you are in Sioux City with the Hard Rock now is the astonishing change in the downtown,” according to Schultz. He says there used to be numerous vacant building in the area.
“Today with what’s going on at the Hard Rock, all those storefronts are filling up quick. It’s been a remarkable transition for what’s happening,” Schultz says.
The president of the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, Jerry Keizer of Doon, talked about the funding they receive from the Grand Falls Casino. “Last October of 2017 we held our grant review banquet in the events center, where we distributed one million-235-thousand dollars to new projects in the surrounding communities,” Keizer says.
He says they also distribute funds from the casino golf course, with half going to scholarships. “These awards are based on applications. The remaining 50 percent of the funds are given to the Lyon County schools,” Keizer says. “There’s three schools in Lyon County that we fund. Since 2011, each school has received one-million-200-thousand dollars.”
Steve Staebell is the president of the Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission which partners with the Catfish Bend Casino. “I’m happy to report that the relationship between the Catfish Bend Casino and the Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission or SIRRC — continues to thrive to the benefit of the Des Moines and Lee County communities,” Staebell says. He says the benefits are spread across the area.
He says the revenues are equally divided between Keokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau, the Fort Madison SIRRC and Grow Greater Burlington. “This year southeast Iowa is sharing the benefits of nearly $1.3 million made possible by these revenues,” according to Staebell. The Racing and Gaming Commission took the action to approve the new licenses at their meeting at the Prairie Meadows Casino in Altoona.