Public Speaks Out For Siouxland Casinos

(SIOUX CITY, IA) - Three casino operators, four casino sites and five members of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. They all came together Tuesday in Sioux City. The commissioners saw a lot and heard a lot when it comes to who they should choose to build a new casino.

Tours of the sites kicked off at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. Then at 1:30 p.m., more than 60 people stepped up to the mic to tell the commission what plan they favor.
Every seat taken and standing room only was the sight of the Stoney Creek Inn conference room. A Sioux City land-based casino that's been the talk of the town for months drew a huge crowd to take to the mic. "I like a good restaurant and I love entertainment. I love an organization that will become part of the fabric of the community and help support this community and I think they'll be a good fit," said Joe Frisbee, a Hard Rock Casino supporter. Earlier in the day, the commissioners got their first chance to see the sites for themselves. Penn National Gaming showed off its first Hollywood Casino just north of Salix and it's Hollywood style casino that would be built on Gordon Drive. "We are the most experienced operator, total economic impact from this facility, because of TIF financing, we offer the greatest, both here and in Siouxland," said Lance George, Argosy Casino VP & General Manager. "I looked up Penn. My God it's a real company. They got 26 operations, 18 states. The balance sheets are there. It's all up front," said Hollywood Casinos supporter, Jim Brahm. Sioux City's Hard Rock was next on the commission's list with a tour of the Battery Building and what could become. "Instead of bringing just a casino, we think we can bring a full entertainment destination. We think we can bring something that's going to be a little bit of entertainment for everyone," said Bill Warner, President of Sioux City Entertainment. "It really needs to be fresh and new to keep our youth excited because we have a lot of them graduating college and leaving Sioux City for something bigger and more exciting. And we can offer that with Hard Rock as a stepping stone," said Hard Rock supporter, Lisa Jasman.
Third on the agenda was a more private meeting with Ho-Chunk's CEO Lance Morgan. The man behind the Warrior Casino. "We want the Warrior to be both classy and fun. You know, I think that we're never going to be Hollywood and we're never going to be Las Vegas, but we're going to have a very unique sort of Iowa twist on a good time," said Morgan. "We need to rebuild downtown and to create an entertainment district rather than an interstate pull off and back on the road. We need to drive people deeper into downtown," said Howard Wanned, supporter of Warrior Hotel & Casino.
The commission listened to supporters for more than three hours soaking up everything each had to say.

"All of these are very strong applications and I think all of the commissioners are going to come to different conclusions of what is the element that puts them over the top with respect to one another. It's going to be a very difficult decision," said Jeff Lamberti, IRGC Chairman.

The IRGC is supposed to make its final decision April 18th. Lamberti said the commission will not have a chance to gather as a group to discuss the casinos until that day.