CasinoCityTimes.com

Gurus
News
Newsletter
Author Home Author Archives Author Books Send to a Friend Search Articles Subscribe
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Newsletter Signup
Stay informed with the
NEW Casino City Times newsletter!
Related Links
Recent Articles
Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

author's picture
 

Iowa Has Blazed Many Casino Gambling Trails

14 September 2005

Iowa, our next door state neighbor to the west, is a popular destination for Chicago-area residents looking for day trips, weekend getaways and mini-vacations. Since there's a thriving casino gaming market in the Quad Cities, many people go for the gambling but few are aware of the Hawkeye State's place in gambling history.

It is 16 years ago last July that Iowa passed the first riverboat casino legislation in the nation. Within six years five other states jumped on board, giving birth to a multi-billion dollar industry. It was the pivotal force behind the unprecedented expansion of Las Vegas-style casino gambling in America during the decade of the 90s.

Iowa was also the birthplace of what turned out to be the next wave of casino development in the United States when slot machines were introduced to Prairie Meadows Race Track in Altoona 10 years ago, creating the nation's first racetrack casino. Today there are 23 so-called "racinos" in seven states, which generate revenues in the billions.

Then in 2004, the Iowa State Legislature paved the way for table games such as blackjack, craps and roulette to be included in the gaming inventory at Prairie Meadows. In December the track became the first racino operation in the country to have table games, a trend that is likely to be emulated in racino states nationwide.

Last June the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission approved table games for Harrah's Council Bluffs and Bluff's Run Casino located in the southwest region of the state. Harrah's is investing $85 million in the expansion of the property and its re-branding as a Horseshoe. When it opens sometime during the first quarter of 2006, it will be Western Iowa's largest full-service, land-based gaming facility, occupying more than 100,000 square feet of space. It will feature 36 table games, a 20-table poker room and 1,900 slot and video poker machines on a single contiguous floor.

"The reason we've expanded is because of the favorable taxation legislation in the state," said Gaye Gullo, senior vice president and general manager of the property. "It came with other favorable legislation that allowed for table games at the tracks, and we decided that was exactly the right thing for us to do.

"Also in this case the property is being re-branded as a Horseshoe Casino, so we (Harrah's) can add another Horseshoe to our expanding portfolio of Horseshoe Casinos. It also gives us the unique opportunity at this point to be the only true land-based casino in our region with a facility built from the ground up and attached to the track. It creates connectivity to the track and it also gives us an opportunity to deliver a casino to the public the likes of which have never been seen in this market or in this Midwest region.

"Unlike a riverboat where a boat goes away and a barge comes in, generally you still have the land-based facility (pavilion) segregated from the casino. In this case you're going to be entering a facility that is an all-inclusive home for a casino with restaurants in the perimeters of that casino and entertainment venues that you can walk right on and off the floor to. That's really the beauty of this new facility.

"We will be open at some point at the end of the first quarter of 2006. I'm still waiting for opening dates that are more specific because it's all about how soon you can get that building covered and start working inside. It's coming along beautifully and is going to be a spectacular casino."

In addition to the casino, the Council Bluffs destination conducts greyhound racing the year 'round, one of the most aggressive schedules for the sport in the country. The race track is heated to accommodate the harsh winter weather.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp