January 20, 2000, excursion gambling boat licenses were granted to the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corp./Isle of Capri Marquette, Inc. operating as the Miss Marquette which later changed to Isle of Capri Marquette; and the Scott County Regional Authority/Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L. C. operating as Lady Luck Bettendorf which later changed to Isle of Capri Bettendorf. Both operations changed ownership on March 2, 2000. This was a result of the Isle of Capri, Inc., merger with Lady Luck Gaming Corporation and BRDC, Inc.
September 15, 2000, an excursion gambling boat license was granted to the Riverboat Development Authority/IOC Davenport, L.C., operating as The President (operating as Rhythm City in March of 2001). The change in ownership of the operation occurred October 10, 2000.
June 21, 2001, sale of the ownership interest in Harveys Casino Resorts, parent of wholly-subsidiaries: Harveys Iowa Management Company and Harveys BR Management Co., to Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. was approved and an excursion gambling boat license was granted to Iowa West Racing Association/Harveys Iowa Management Company, Inc., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.
November 15, 2001, merger of Mississippi Belle II, Inc., into Mississippi Belle II Employees Ownership Company with the sale of a 51 percent interest to Mississippi Belle II Ownership Company. Employee Stock Ownership Trust was approved and an excursion gambling boat license was granted to Clinton County Gaming Association, Ltd./Mississippi Belle II Employees Ownership Company.
June 2002, the Supreme Court of Iowa found that there was no rational reason for treating racetrack slot machines differently than riverboat slot machines and declared unconstitutional that portion of the statute that imposed the discriminatory tax upon racetracks. This decision lowered the tax paid by the racetrack enclosures to 20% instead of the graduated tax structure. This decision was appealed by the State.
November 5, 2002, gaming referenda* passed in Woodbury, Jackson, Lee, Des Moines, Polk (track only), Pottawattamie (boat and track), Clarke, Clinton, Clayton, Scott, and Dubuque (boat and track) counties. (*excursion boat gambling referenda only unless otherwise noted)
June 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the State's differential tax rate did not violate the Federal Equal Protection clause. The Iowa Supreme Court's judgment to the contrary was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Gambling game referendums were held in the following counties in 2003:
- June 17 - Palo Alto County (approved)
- June 24 - Worth County (approved)
- July 8 Dickinson County (failed)
- September 16 - Cerro Gordo County (failed)
- October 10 - Black Hawk County (approved)
- October 28 - Wapello County (approved)
- November 4 - Linn County (failed)
- December 16 - Clay County (failed
Gambling game referendums were held in the following counties in 2004:
- January 9 - Sac County (failed)
- January 27 - Franklin County (approved)
- March 23 - Webster County (approved)
- August 31 - Washington County (approved)
February 2004, the Supreme Court of Iowa upheld its earlier decision to declare the differential tax invalid under the Iowa Constitution because they were convinced that the classifications made in the Code lacked a rational basis for a differing tax rate in the constitutional sense.
Legislation was enacted in May of 2004:
- Providing for a County Endowment Fund under the control of the Department of Revenue in which one-half of one percent of adjusted gross revenue from the gaming tax goes into the Fund. The Fund will have a separate account for each county in which no licensee under chapter 99F exists.
- Requiring licensees to establish a voluntarily exclusion program, whereby a person may voluntarily ban themselves from all facilities under 99D and 99F for life.
- Prohibiting cash and credit devices in the wagering area or on the gaming floor.
- Providing a $500 penalty for an underage person who makes or attempts to make a wager under 99D and 99F.
- Removing the fifty-cent admission fee per person entering a racetrack enclosure and establishing a regulatory fee similar to excursion gambling boats.
- Changing the amount of money going into the Gambling Treatment Fund from three-tenths of one percent to one-half of one percent of the adjusted gross revenue from the gaming tax.
- Requiring that the CPA conducting the annual audit be selected by the board of supervisors of the licensee's county.
- Defining "Excursion gambling boat" to include a moored barge.
- Authorizing table games, which include video machines that simulate table games, at racetrack enclosures.
- Requiring that an operating agreement between a qualified sponsoring organization and an operator provide for a minimum distribution for charitable purposes to average at least three percent of the adjusted gross receipts for each license year.
- Setting the minimum percentages for annual purses for horse racing between January 1, 2006 and January 1, 2021 at 11% for net receipts of $200m or less and at 6% for net receipts over $200m. Net receipts are defined as the annual adjusted gross receipts form all gambling games less the annual amount of money pledged by the owner of the facility to fund a project approved to receive Vision Iowa funds.
- Providing that an excursion gambling boat may be located or operated on a natural or man-made lake or reservoir, as long as the size would accommodate recreational activity; and also providing that a boat may be located on a body of water adjacent to a river within 1000 feet from the high water mark of the river.
- Requiring a licensee to indicate by June 30 of each year if they will operate a barge, a boat that will cruise or a boat that will not cruise.
- Removing the requirement that a licensee must have a section reserved solely for underage persons.
- Following a 'no' vote a referendum cannot be held for at least eight years.
- Providing for an initial license fee for new licenses which shall be paid in one-fifth installments over a four year period beginning with the date the license is granted: $5 million-county population of 15,000 or less; $10 million-county population of more than 15,000 and less than 100,000; and $20 million-county population of 100,000 or more.
- Providing for a revised wagering tax structure that is imposed on a fiscal year basis rather than annually. The new tax structure is as follows: Excursion gambling boat = 22%; Racetrack enclosure in the same county as other licensees and not issued a table games license = 22%; Racetrack enclosure in the same county as other licensees and issued a table games license but with adjusted gross receipts of less than $100 million = 22%; Racetrack enclosure in the same county as other licensees, issued a table games license and with adjusted gross receipts of more than $100 million = 24% and Racetrack enclosures with no other licensees in the same county = 24%.
- Providing for the Legislative Council to commission a socioeconomic study of gambling with the report available by July 1, 2005.
At the June 10, 2004 Commission Meeting, the Commission established November 10, 2004, as the date that all applications for new riverboat gambling facilities be filed with the Commission provided the Commission takes the necessary steps to final adopt the rule to lift the moratorium.
July 15, 2004, the Commission approved Ameristar's expansion and renovation request, including additional gaming positions and granted the Table Game License for the Racing Association of Central Iowa/Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino.
At the September 2, 2004 Commission Meeting, the Commission final adopt the rule to lift the moratorium.
On November 10, 2004, the Commission received ten applications for new excursion gambling boat licenses and at the November 19 Commission meeting, a timetable for a review and evaluation process was announced.
November 17, 2004, an excursion boat license was granted to the Clarke County Development Company/Herbst Gaming, Inc. to operate a riverboat in Osceola. The change in ownership of the operation of the Lakeside Casino Resort will be effective on February 1, 2005.
On May 11, 2005, the Commission took action on new excursion gambling boat applications.
The Commission granted a license to the following applicants:
- Wild Rose Emmetsburg, LLC/Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation (Emmetsburg)
- Diamond Jo Worth, LLC/Worth County Development Authority (Worth County)
- IOC Black Hawk County, Inc./Black Hawk County Gaming Association (Waterloo)
- Washington County Casino Resort, LLC/Washington County Riverboat Foundation, Inc. (Riverside)
The Commission denied without prejudice a license to the following applicants:
- Mineral City Hotel & Casino, LLC/Heart of Iowa Foundation (Fort Dodge)
- Northwest Iowa Gaming Co./Palo Alto County Development Corporation (Emmetsburg)
- Landmark Gaming. LC/Franklin County Development Association (Franklin County)
- Cedar Valley Gaming Company, LLC/Cedar Valley Grants, Inc. (Waterloo)
- Black Hawk County Greyhound Park & Casino, LLC/National Dairy Cattle Congress, Inc. (Waterloo)
- Wild Rose Ottumwa, LLC/River Hills Riverboat Authority (Ottumwa)
On June 9, 2005, the Commission approved the acquisition of Argosy Gaming by Penn National Gaming, Inc.
On July 14, 2005, the Commission discussed the possibility of reinstating the moratorium rule on additional excursion gambling boat licenses and racetrack enclosure licenses. It was the feeling of the Commission that they did not want to reinstate a moratorium rule, however, each Commissioner expressed their opinion that while not wanting to reinstate a moratorium rule, they were not inclined to issue any additional licenses until the four new licensees were built and operating results could be evaluated.
June 8, 2006, the Commission approved the sale of the Mississippi Belle II assets to Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C. and then an excursion gambling boat license was issued to Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C./Clinton County Community Development Association.
June 8, 2006, the Commission approved an excursion gambling boat license to Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC/Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission to facilitate the division of the existing Catfish Bend Casinos, LLC into two separate entities: Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC which will own and operate the existing casino operations in Des Moines and Lee Counties and Catfish Bend Riverside, LLC which will continue to own an interest in, and perform existing management agreements for Washington County Casino Resort.
July 13, 2006, the Commission approved an expansion plan for the Diamond Jo Worth facility in Northwood.
Excursion boat gambling referendums held on November 7, 2006 was approved in Tama County and failed in Buena Vista County.
Legislation enacted during the 2007 Legislative Session:
- Administrator's compensation, based upon knowledge and experience, will be set by the Governor.
- To qualify for the Iowa horse and dog breeders fund, a dog shall have been whelped in Iowa and raised for the first six months of its life in Iowa in a state inspected licensed facility.
- A horse can be determined to be a bleeder if any licensed practicing veterinarian observes bleeding.
- Eliminates the provision that the placing of a horse in a race cannot be affected for excessive concentrations of phenylbutazone in the system of the horse.
- Increases the maximum allowable concentration of phenylbutazone per milliliter of blood in a horse from two point two micrograms of the substance to five micrograms.
- Modifies the acceptable dose level of furosemide that can be administered to a horse prior to a race to no less than one hundred fifty milligrams and no more than five hundred milligrams.
- Certain drug tests currently required to be conducted on horses that suffer a breakdown on the racetrack are discretionary and no longer mandatory.
- Authorizes gambling structures defined as any man-made stationary structure approved by the Commission that 1) does not include a racetrack enclosure, 2) is subject to land-based building codes rather than maritime or Iowa Department of Natural Resources inspection laws and regulations and 3) is licensed to conduct lawful gambling as provided in Chapter 99F.
On November 8, 2007, the Commission approved Catfish Bend Casino to cease operation of their facility in Fort Madison on November 15, 2007. The facility in Burlington will continue to operate as a moored barge.
An excursion boat gambling referendum failed on December 4, 2007 in Cherokee County.
On March 6, 2008, the Commission approved licenses for Dubuque Racing Association/Peninsula Gaming Company, LLC and Clinton County Community Development Association/Wild Rose Clinton, LLC; to operate a Gambling Structures upon completion of their new facilities.
An excursion boat gambling referendum was approved on September 23, 2008 for Lyon County.
On November 13, 2008, the Commission retained the services of two nationally recognized companies in the gaming industry to conduct studies for the Commission (The Innovation Group and GVA Marquette). The studies are to identify any unserved or underserved markets in Iowa. The studies will then provide projections as to the potential revenue which could be generated by those markets given varying levels of investment and the projected impact on existing licensed facilities in Iowa. In addition, the studies will provide the same projections for casinos in those counties which have passed referenda and expressed a desire to seek a license for a casino in their county, whether or not they are deemed unserved . Those counties are Franklin, Lyon, Tama, Wapello and Webster. The studies are scheduled for completion in May or early June.
At the June 4, 2009, Commission Meeting, the Commission heard the final reports by The Innovation Group and GVA Marquette Advisors to identify any underserved gaming markets in Iowa.
During the July 16, 2009, Commission Meeting, the Commission discussed the granting of additional gaming licensees. Following a lengthy discussion, the Commission determined they would open up the process and would accept applications until October 1, 2009.