IRGC Denies Argosy Extension

The State of Iowa has told the Argosy Casino to get ready to close.

In a unanimous vote Thursday, the racing and gaming commission agreed not to renew Penn National Gaming's license for the Argosy.

It's the latest development in the fight between Penn and Missouri River Historical Development, the non-profit that used to hold the Argosy's gaming license.

MRHD joined up with Sioux City Entertainment to build the Hard Rock Casino, and with construction underway, the Commission told Penn to start winding down operations on the boat.

The IRGC didn't ask any questions, even after Penn National Gaming's lawyer, Chris Tayback, told members of the commission they had a "pattern of trampling" over Penn's procedural rights.

Gaming Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko says Penn is missing an important piece of the puzzle.

"The fundamental issue is that there is no operating agreement that's been approved by the commission between the Belle and MRHD. The Belle, they are absent an non-profit operator which Iowa code requires there are two license holders for any gaming institution in the state," said Ohorilko.

Tayback says the IRGC made its first mistake by granting Sioux City Entertainment and Missouri River Historical Development a license when MRHD and Penn still had a contract and gaming license.

Tayback called the IRGC's handling of the entire situation flawed.

"Whatever process they're reporting to give is a sham and we know what the result is going to be, they've said what the result is going to be its going to be a revocation or a non-renewal and licensees have rights. They have a right to be treated fairly, have the issues adjudicated by a body that hasn't decided what the outcome is going to be," said Tayback.

Meanwhile, Penn brought MRHD to court in late July. It claims MRHD breached its contract of exclusivity.

The IRGC didn't set an exact date for when the Argosy has to pull anchor, so come next year when the Hard Rock opens, there could be two casinos in Sioux City.

The IRGC says if the courts were to rule against Penn, it would still have sufficient time to get things together.

"The Belle would have the opportunity to continue to operate into a period of time in the future, that they can allow for their employees to plan accordingly. There are some other regulatory things that need to occur. It's just not practical for a operation to close down the very next day," said Ohorilko.

"I think there should have been a process in place that was fair and complied with Iowa law, complied with the Constitution, and I think if that process had taken place I actually think the Argosy and the Belle would be the casino in Woodbury County," said Tayback.