The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) met at Wild Rose Emmetsburg in Emmetsburg, Iowa. Commission members present were Julie Andres, Chair; Daryl Olsen, Vice Chair; and members Amy Burkhart, Mark Campbell and Lance Horbach.
APPROVE AGENDA: Chair Andres called the meeting to order at 8:30 AM, and requested a motion to approve the agenda. Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the agenda as presented. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
WELCOME: Steve Cody, General Manager, welcomed everyone to the property. He introduced Pat Degen, Mayor of Emmetsburg, and Brian Borman, President of the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation (PACGDC).
Mayor Degen stated he is a long-time resident of Emmetsburg; and that it is a wonderful community with a lot to offer. He noted Emmetsburg welcomed Wild Rose to the community 15 years ago, and he was proud to be a part of that process as a member if the city council. Mayor Degen stated Wild Rose has paid approximately $2.3 million in property taxes, and contributed over $5 million in grants to entities financed solely by city tax dollars this year. He advised they have awarded millions in grants to private entities throughout Palo Alto County and Emmetsburg. Wages paid to employees are pumped back into the local economy. He stated Wile Rose is a valuable member of the community and Palo Alto County.
Mr. Borman introduced PACGDC members in attendance, and advised the board has nine voting members and two non-voting members. He stated Emmetsburg has everything a resident needs, but not necessarily everything they want. He stated PACGDC has a great relationship with Wild Rose Emmetsburg; both organizations are working to improve the lives of the residents in northwest Iowa. Mr. Borman stated Mr. Cody or a member of the senior management team attends the monthly meetings to discuss the various activities occurring in both organizations. During the last grant cycle, PACGDC awarded 42 competitive grants totaling $542,000; $626,000 was awarded to the nine cities in the county; and the five schools in the county received $250,000. Additional funds were placed in the reserve account, which is used to fund various programs offered throughout the county. Examples are a demolition grant which is available for the demolition of commercial or residential buildings that are no long habitable, 65 of these grants have been awarded to date. Funds awarded cover about half of the cost of the demolition. There is also a grant for new home construction; ten of these have been awarded. Another program helps replace non-compliant septic systems in the rural areas of the county; 42 of these grants have been funded. These grants also cover approximately one-half of the cost of the project. Some of the funds in the reserve fund also go to the Palo Alto County Community Fund. Mr. Borman stated a former Board member, Skip Wallace, always told the Board “It’s easy to give money away, but it’s hard to give it away responsibly.”
APPROVE MINUTES: Chair Andres moved to the approval of the minutes from the April 14, 2022 Commission meeting. Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the minutes as submitted. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Brian Ohorilko, Administrator of IRGC, stated the next Commission meeting would be on Friday, July 8th at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino. Submissions for the meeting are due in the Des Moines office by June 23, 2022. The meeting will start at 3:30 PM. The Commissioners will be attending the races that evening, as well as observing activities on the backside. The August meeting will be on August 25th at Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.
Mr. Ohorilko noted there had been some changes to the meeting schedule announced at the April meeting. The September 29th meeting will now be held in Des Moines; the location will be announced at a later date. The meeting on January 26, 2023 will be held at Diamond Jo Worth in Northwood, Iowa. The dates remain the same, but the locations for those meetings have changed.
Mr. Ohorilko recognized Gaming Representative Keith Espe, and thanked him for his work on behalf of IRGC.
LINN COUNTY APPLICATION DISCUSSION: Mr. Ohorilko stated HF 2497 passed the Legislature last week, which contains a provision limiting the number of licenses issued by the Commission to conduct gambling games to not exceed 19. The legislation does provide some limited exceptions – if a license is moved within an existing county, sold in an existing county or otherwise does not have a license renewed in that particular county. The limit is in effect until June 30, 2024. Mr. Ohorilko stated the number of licenses issued in Iowa is 19; therefore, the legislation effectively, if it becomes law, would prevent any additional licenses being granted until June 30, 2024.
Chair Andres stated the Commission is going to wait to see how this situation plays out and then determine what the next steps will be.
Commissioner Horbach stated there a few things to be aware of. There is a lot of insight in how things are managed in Iowa, and that is a commission process. He stated previous lawmakers thought it was important that the Legislature not be responsible for picking judges so the process was moved out of the political world to a commission; locations for highways follows the same principle. Mr. Horbach noted most of the legislators come from metro areas; if those decisions were left to the Legislature, the urban areas would thrive and rural areas would struggle. The same principle applies to gaming. The Legislature wanted to keep politics, money and influence out of the process so legislation created the Iowa gaming commission. Commissioner Horbach stated his concern is that if the legislation is signed, politics would then be in Iowa’s gaming industry. He stated he could wait two years, noting the Commissioners work on behalf of the Governor and Legislature. He stated that from his experience a moratorium of two years is actually indicating the Legislature wants to stay involved as another decision will have to be made in two years. Commissioner Horbach stated he does have some concerns about the impact on the Commission process in the State of Iowa.
Commissioner Campbell stated he felt all of the Commissioners were surprised by the decision. As Commissioners involved in the process, they value the integrity of the process and will work extremely hard to maintain the integrity of gaming in licensing, regulating and how they move forward.
Commissioner Olsen stated he concurred with the comments made by Commissioners Horbach and Campbell. He stated he was surprised and disappointed with the decision as he truly believes the decision should stay with the Commission; however, the Commission’s job is to regulate, not legislate. Commissioner Olsen stated the Commission will continue to regulate. He stated the Commission works hard to gather the most information they possibly can and research issues to make sure they understand every topic in order to make sound decisions. He stated the Commission’s decision will be transparent.
Commissioner Burkhart stated that many of her sentiments have already been shared. She noted that as a marketing and public relations professional, what has been shared is feelings, which are developed by good communication. She stated this opportunity highlights an opportunity for improved communication by all parties. In order to maintain the integrity and transparency issues set forth by the other Commission members, communication is imperative. She stated the Commission welcomes any and all conversations from legislators, the gaming industry and the public as that is in the best interest of gaming in Iowa.
HARVEYS BR MANAGEMENT COMPANY, INC. d/b/a HORSESHOE CASINO COUNCIL BLUFFS: Janae Sternberg, Vice President of Finance, presented a request to convert the underutilized buffet space to a multi-purpose space for banquets, entertainment, and VIP functions which are currently held in the Whiskey Roadhouse space. Utilizing Whiskey Roadhouse for those events creates conflicts as it is a restaurant on a nightly basis.
Commissioner Burkhart asked how often the space would be utilized for those types of events. Ms. Sternberg stated Horseshoe does a large VIP event at least one weekend per month, Whiskey Roadhouse currently has free entertainment on Friday night. During the winter months, Horseshoe has ticketed shows, and Stir Cove takes place at Harrah’s during the summer months. Ms. Sternberg stated the space would be used for those types of events a couple of times per month, and for banquet events as they are booked.
Commissioner Olsen asked how many restaurants would continue to be open at Horseshoe and their hours. Ms. Sternberg provided the following information:
- JB’s Café – all day breakfast/burger – open 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM; opens earlier on the weekends;
- Hilton Garden Inn – Has a breakfast offering available every day of the week, and a dinner offering from 5:00 – 9:00 PM;
- Whiskey Roadhouse – dinner offering; closed 2 days per week; and
- Jack Binion’s Steakhouse – Open in the evening 5 days per week.
Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the remodeling request as presented by Harveys BR Management Company, Inc. d/b/a Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs. Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
BOYD GAMING CORPORATION: Uri Clinton, General Counsel for Boyd Gaming Corporation (Boyd), presented a shelf application for debt financing on behalf of Boyd, the parent company of Diamond Jo, LLC and Diamond Jo Worth, LLC. Mr. Clinton stated the application is similar to shelf financing approved by the Commission in 2019, The funds will be used for general corporate purposes; Boyd feels it is prudent to have funds available to them for capital projects, working capital and general operations as necessary. Mr. Clinton requested approval of the shelf application for debt financing.
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the shelf application for debt financing as submitted by Boyd Gaming Corporation. Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
CONTRACT APPROVALS (OSV – OUT OF STATE VENDOR; RP – RELATED PARTY):
Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C.: Rick Gilson, Director of Operations, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Mark-It-Smart – Purchase Promotional Gifts & Giveaway for Patrons
- DC Bolt Productions – Purchase of a LED Video Wall (OSV)
- Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C. – Miscellaneous Transactions between Sister Property (RP)
- Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C. – Miscellaneous Transactions between Sister Property (RP)
- Performance Foodservice – Food Products
- Aramark – Rental of Linens
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Olsen moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Wild Rose Clinton. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion.
Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C.: Mr. Cody presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- The Printer, Inc. – Printing Company for Mailers
- Ideal Floors, Inc. – Replacement/Installation of New Flooring on Gaming Floor, Sportsbook, Upper Atrium
- Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C. – Miscellaneous Transactions between Sister Property (RP)
- Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C. – Miscellaneous Transactions between Sister Property (RP)
- Great Sound Audio Video – Updating/Adding TVs across the Property
- Custom Design Coatings, LLC – Wallpaper Removal/Paint on Gaming Floor, Re-Paint Upper and Lower Atrium
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C. Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C.: Travis Dvorak, General Manager, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Cobblestone Hotel & Suites – Leasing of Hotel Rooms
- Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C. – Miscellaneous Transactions between Sister Property (RP)
- Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C. – Miscellaneous Transactions between Sister Property (RP)
Hearing no comment or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C. Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Dubuque Racing Association, Ltd.: Brian Rakestraw, General Manager, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- American Specialty Insurance – General Liability, Auto & Excess Insurance
- Bristol & Associates – Recruitment Service (OSV)
- Delta Dental of Iowa – Dental and Vision Insurance for Entire Employee Group
- Encova Insurance – Worker’s Compensation Insurance
- Friedman Insurance – Insurance (Officers & Directors, Property, and Cyber)
- Greater Dubuque Development Corp. (GDDC) – Area Economic Development Efforts (RP)
- US Foods – Proprietary Food Distributor for Franchise Restaurant (OSV)
Chair Andres asked for further clarification on the contract with Bristol & Associates. Mr. Rakestraw stated it is for headhunting. He stated they did search for a company in Iowa; however, this is for a specialty key employee, a Chief Commercial Officer, to oversee marketing, sales and IT. They wanted a company that specialized in the hospitality industry; the Iowa companies did not.
Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Dubuque Racing Association, Ltd. Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
IOC Bettendorf, L.C.: Chad Moine, General Manager for IOC Black Hawk County, Inc., presented a contract with TK Elevator for elevator/escalator maintenance.
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contract as submitted by IOC Bettendorf, L.C. Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
IOC Black Hawk County, Inc.: Mr. Moine presented a contract with Aramark for laundry service.
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the contract as submitted by IOC Black Hawk County, Inc. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Grand Falls Casino Resort, Inc.: Sharon Haselhoff, General Manager, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Executive Services Company LLC – Goods and Services Cost Allocations (RP)
- Ziegler Power Systems – Generator Customer Support Agreement
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Olsen moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Grand Falls Casino Resort, Inc. Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, LLC: Ms. Haselhoff presented a contract with Executive Services Company, LLC for Goods and Services Costs Allocations (RP).
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested motion. Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contract as submitted by Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, LLC. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
SCE Partners, LLC: Doug Fisher, General Manager, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Sarepta, Inc. – Trace Adkins – Battery Park Performance 2022 (OSV)
- Doover Productions, LLC – Little Big Town – Battery Park Performance 2022 (OSV)
- Micros Fidelio Worldwide, LLC – Replacement of Point of Sale (OSV)
- Sonifi Solutions, Inc. – In-room Entertainment and Wi-Fi Replacement (OSV)
- Vertiv – UPS Battery Backup and Fan Replacement (OSV)
Chair Andres asked if the contracts with the out-of-state vendors for the performances were with an agency representing the performers, and if the services are available with an Iowa vendor. Mr. Fisher stated the contracts are with the specific agent representing the performer, but noted they utilize an Iowa vendor to help book the performances.
Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contracts as submitted by SCE Partners, LLC. Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Diamond Jo, LLC: Wendy Runde, General Manager, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Reldom Corporation – Cage Cabinetry and Carts for Count Room (OSV)
- Another Round, LLC – Liquor Distributor
- NRT Technology – Cash Advance and Kiosk Services (OSV)
Commissioner Burkhart inquired about the contract with NRT Technology for the Cash Advance and Kiosk Services. She asked if the services were available through an Iowa vendor. Ms. Runde stated they were not to her knowledge. The company provides check cashing and credit card advances. She also noted this is a corporate contract that services all Boyd Gaming properties.
Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Diamond Jo, LLC. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Diamond Jo Worth, LLC: Scott Smith, General Manager, presented a contract with NRT Technology for Cash Advance and Kiosk Services (OSV).
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Olsen moved to approve the contract as submitted by Diamond Jo Worth, LLC. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, LLC: Paul Czak, General Manager, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Alcohol Beverage Division – Alcohol and Licensing
- ASI, LLC d/b/a Ameritrex Services – Laundry Services (OSV)
- Direct TV – Direct Broadcast Satellite Television Provider (OSV)
- Cummins Allison Corp. – Count Room Equipment/Maintenance
- Everi Payments, Inc. – Various Kiosks, Services and Maintenance (OSV)
- Majestic Franchising, Inc. – Kitchen Cleaning (OSV)
- Wells Fargo Bank – Employee Credit Cards (OSV)
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, LLC. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Harveys Iowa Management Company, LLC: Ms. Sternberg presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Exela – Copy/Print Vendor (OSV)
- Sigmar Solutions – Marketing and Promotional Vendor (OSV)
She stated Exela is a copier/print vendor for the company. Request for Bid information was sent to several vendors; however, Exela was the low-cost vendor. Exela provides them with “white glove service” which means there is a technician on property and available to address problems seven days a week.
With regard to the Sigmar Solutions contract, Ms. Sternberg advised the company is one of many the facility uses for promotional items. Their main vendor is Aaron Group, which is an Iowa vendor; however, there are instances when they can’t provide what the property is looking for. Harrah’s likes to have some backup options available.
Commissioner Horbach thanked Ms. Sternberg for her explanation as the Commission was unaware of the “white glove service” provided by Exela. He noted the Commission is focusing on out-of-state vendors as the Iowa Code requires the use of Iowa vendors when possible. He stated the summary provided indicated the service was cheaper and agreed that was important, but not as important as utilizing an Iowa vendor.
Commissioner Olsen asked what rate the facilities find acceptable when choosing an out-of-state vendor over an Iowa vendor. Ms. Sternberg stated Caesars has some buying power and vendors are sometimes less expensive by 5-10%. She stated the properties have the ability to override a national contract if the product or service is better. She stated she looks for a 5-25% difference when deciding whether to use an Iowa or out-of-state vendor. She stated they utilize Iowa first and their percentages on the Economic Impact report reflect that.
Chair Andres asked for additional information on the Exela contract. Ms. Sternberg stated Exela has an employee who works in their IT office, but wears an Exela polo and services all of the copiers and printers. He is on property Monday through Friday.
Chair Andres asked what kinds of items Harrah’s purchases through Sigmar that are not available in Iowa. Ms. Sternberg stated they “theme” the monthly giveaways or they may want a certain type of bag/cooler, but supply chain issues or pricing could also come into play. She reiterated this is a backup option and does not feel they have spent $100,000 with them in any given year. Ms. Sternberg advised they have contracts with approximately six different entities in order to have options available to them.
Commissioner Burkhart expressed concern about the length of the contract and possibly not allowing an Iowa vendor to provide some of the items, particularly if supply chain issues are rectified. She indicated she could support approving the contract but for a shorter term.
Chair Andres noted Sigmar Solutions was also being submitted as a vendor for Horseshoe Casino. Commissioner Olsen requested additional information be submitted regarding Sigmar Solutions at the July Commission meeting.
Commissioner Horbach noted the date on the contract submission for Sigmar Solutions is June 2nd, and wondered how that impacts the contract. Ms. Sternberg advised the submission was really about the spend as there is no actual contract with Sigmar. She stated the submission before the Commission was to provide them with the ability to do. Sigmar is a vendor they issue purchase orders to throughout the year. Commissioner Horbach stated that information made a difference to him. He clarified his understanding that the Request for Transaction before the Commission is to give Harrah’s the authority to spend funds with the company, and the authority has a sunset date of five years. Ms. Sternberg stated the request is about having the option to utilize another vendor if necessary.
Commissioner Burkhart asked Mr. Ohorilko if anything would come back before the Commission should the property choose to utilize Sigmar or if this is a blanket approval of the spend. Mr. Ohorilko advised licensees have a couple of different options. If the Request for Transaction does not include an end date, it is classified as an ongoing contract, and by rule, it does not come back before the Commission for five years. If the Sigmar submission is approved as is, it is an approval to spend up to $500,000 at Harveys each year for up to five years. The licensee could come back, after taking the Commission’s comments into consideration, and include an end date of December 31, 2022 which would give them the authority to spend funds with the vendor through the end of the calendar year. Mr. Ohorilko stated if the Commission does not act, the licensee has the ability to resubmit with a different end date at the next meeting.
Chair Andres stated she would prefer deferring action on the Sigmar Solutions submission until the July meeting to see if Harveys can find an instate vendor and possibly reduce the exposure. She requested a motion on the remaining contract.
Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the contract with Exela with the “white glove service”. Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Harveys BR Management Company, Inc. d/b/a Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs: Ms. Sternberg presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Exela Enterprise Solutions – Copy and Print Services (OSV)
- MCL Construction – Construction Vendor
- Sigmar Solutions – Marketing and Promotional Items (OSV)
She advised two of the vendors were the same as submitted for Harrah’s; the third is the contractor for the remodel of the buffet space.
Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contracts with Exela Enterprise Solutions and MCL Construction as presented by Harveys BR Management Company, Inc. d/b/a Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs. Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
PRAIRIE MEADOWS RACETRACK & CASINO, INC. D/B/A PRAIRIE MEADOWS RACETRACK & CASINO
Advance Deposit Wagering Operator Agreement: Ann Atkin, Chief Operating Officer, requested approval for an Advance Deposit Wagering Operator Agreement with Churchill Downs Technology Initiatives Company. The contract is for licensure for Twinspires to provide Advance Deposit Wagering on horseracing for Iowa residents. The contract contains the same terms used for Xpressbet and Premier Turf Club which have been approved previously.
Commissioner Olsen stated it was his understanding that this contract cleans up a situation that has been ongoing. Ms. Atkin stated Churchill has been good to work with, noting Prairie Meadows has tried in the past to enter into an agreement with them, but could not agree on the terms. One of Churchill’s oppositions in the past was they wanted the same deal as Xpressbet. As that matter has been resolved, Churchill was happy to agree to the same contact.
Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Olsen moved to approve the Advance Deposit Wagering Operator Agreement between Churchill Downs Technology Initiatives Company and Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Inc. as submitted. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Contracts: Ms. Atkin presented the following contracts for Commission approval:
- Agilysys – Accounting/Inventory Control/Recipe Building Software & Support (OSV)
- American Express – Corporate Credit Cards and Payment Service (OSV)
- American Teletimer – Photo Finish/Replay Service and System Maintenance (OSV)
- Anderson Erickson Dairy – Dairy Products
- Baker Group/Baker Mechanical – HVAC Contractor
- Bankers Trust Company – Banking Services and Credit Cards
- Cash-Wa Distributing – Food and Beverages
- City of Altoona – Economic Development, Terrace Hills Sponsorship w/Naming Rights
- Conference Technologies – Audio/Visual Equipment and Service
- Consolidated Electrical Distributors, Inc. – Electrical Equipment, Parts, Supplies and Service
- Control Installations of Iowa – Surveillance Equipment
- HyVee, Inc. – Sponsorship of Races at Iowa Speedway
- Martin Brothers Distributing – Food, Equipment and Supplies
- Midwest Quality Wholesale – Meat Supplier
- Networks, Inc. – Computer Equipment
- ODS Technologies d/b/a TVG Network – Horse Race Advance Deposit Account Wagering and Televising Horse Races and Marketing Venues (OSV)
- OMG Midwest – Dirt, Sand and Paving Material for Maintenance
- Perficut Lawn and Landscape – Lawn Care Services
- Performance Foods Group – Food, Equipment and Supplies
- Poindexter Flooring – Tile and Carpet Flooring
- Principal Financial Group – 401K Plans for Employees
- Professional Solutions (NCMIC) – Merchant Processing Fees for Various Credit Cards
- Protex Central – Fire Alarm and Suppression Systems and Service
- Sink Paper and Packaging – Paper Supplies
- The Weitz Company – General Contractor
- Trilix Marketing Group – Marketing Creative Services and Production; HR Recruitment Media Placement
- Waldinger Corporation – Mechanical and Electrical Contractor
Ms. Atkin stated all of the contracts submitted have reached the five-year renewal time frame.
Commissioner Campbell noted the majority are Iowa-based with the exception of specialty items that are out-of-state.
Commissioner Burkhart asked how the contract with American Express was a specialty item, and why it could not be obtained through an Iowa bank or a corporate office in Iowa. Ms. Atkin stated Prairie Meadows does have credit cards through Bankers Trust located in Iowa, but they pay a significant number of their bills with American Express. She stated there are three corporate cards through American Express mostly for travel expenses; the Bankers Trust cards have a lower credit limit.
Chair Andres asked if there was an advantage to the American Express cards other than the credit limit. Ms. Atkin indicated she thought there was, but didn’t know from the accounting side what that benefit would be. She stated the accounting department asked the vendors several years ago if Prairie Meadows could pay their invoices using American Express.
Commissioner Burkhart stated she felt the same about the American Express contract with regard to the length of the contract and feels an Iowa bank could possibly provide the same services. She recommended the contract be deferred until July in order to obtain additional information or a resubmission with an end date. Ms. Atkin stated she would have the Chief Financial Officer at the next meeting to address the concerns surrounding this contract.
Chair Andres requested a motion excluding the American Express contract. Commissioner Olsen moved to approve all of the contracts submitted by Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino, Inc. except for the American Express contract. Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, Inc.: Mr. Ohorilko advised Commission staff has agreed to a Stipulated Agreement with Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, Inc. for a violation of Iowa Code § 99F.9(7), which covers accepting credit cards to purchase coins, tokens or other forms of gambling credit. In this situation there were two consecutive days where a customer purchased an alcoholic beverage from a concession worker, paid with a credit card and entered a larger tip, anywhere from $100 to $290. Either after or during the shift, the concession worker returned that money to the customer who in turn used the funds to gamble. Mr. Ohorilko advised Ameristar discovered the incident through their audit procedures and reported the incident. Ameristar has acknowledged the facts as set forth in the Stipulated Agreement, and has agreed to an administrative penalty up to $10,000. Mr. Ohorilko stated this is the first offense, and past precedence calls for a $10,000 administrative penalty.
Mr. Czak stated he has been representing Ameristar since 2010 and this is the first time he has had to appear before the Commission for this type of violation. He stated this was an usual and disappointing incident for the property. There was a team member who worked her first day, accepted tips and returned them to a guest; the violation was caught during the audit on the employee’s second day of work. The employee committed the same violation that day and then never reported for work again. Mr. Czak stated he didn’t have any additional information to share or an explanation as to how it happened. He stated there was a lack of a paper trail; the team knows the employee was trained, however, there is no signed document acknowledging the training by said employee. Mr. Czak stated since that incident they have rewritten their entire cash handling policy. The Vice President of Hospitality has met one-on-one off the floor with all team members to review the whole policy.
Commissioner Burkhart thanked Mr. Czak for the steps taken since the incident to make sure that it does not reoccur. She moved to approve to the Stipulated Agreement with a $10,000 administrative penalty. Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, Inc.: Mr. Ohorilko advised Commission staff has entered into a Stipulated Agreement with Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, Inc. for a violation of Iowa Code § 99F.9(5) (Minor). He advised an underage female entered the gaming floor unchallenged on October 12, 2021. The individual was on the gaming floor for 50 minutes and did gamble. Mr. Ohorilko stated the underage patron was identified when she attempted to cash a check. The cage employee notified security. Security had the individual’s identification, which had been held and determined the individual was underage; however, the individual had left the gaming floor at that time. Mr. Ohorilko stated Ameristar has acknowledged the facts of the Stipulated Agreement and has agreed to an administrative penalty of $20,000. He noted this is the first incident of this nature in the past 365 days for Ameristar.
Mr. Czak advised the facility designates casino entrance training and a casino entrance training officer at the property. Before a security officer can work at a turnstile, they have to go through 90 days of regular security officer training. Once they have done so and if they are willing, they are sent to a specific CEP training, which is about 8-10 days of training. The officer involved in this incident had received 52 specific hours of training on recognizing IDs, facial recognition, behavioral clues; and had worked for Ameristar for six months prior to entering this specialized training. At this time, Ameristar had approximately $8,000 - $10,000 in training expenses for this officer. The officer started working the turnstiles in April 2021, and between that time and the time of the incident, received numerous recognitions for stopping fake ids. In June he was designated as a coaching partner and was involved in training new employees. Mr. Czak stated the security officer involved has been terminated.
Commissioner Horbach noted the Stipulated Agreement states Ameristar was in possession of the identification at the time the underage person left the property. Mr. Czak stated the individual and her partner were from Indiana and had outstanding warrants. Her credit card had been returned to her when they left the property. Mr. Czak stated their policy is to card anyone that appears to be under 35.
Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the Stipulated Agreement with Ameristar with an administrative penalty of $20,000. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Catfish Bend Casinos II, L.C.: Mr. Ohorilko advised Commission staff had entered into a Stipulated Agreement with Catfish Bend Casinos II, L.C. for a violation of Iowa Code § 99F.9(5) (Minor). He stated this is a two-count violation. The first count occurred on February 18, 2021 when an underage female entered the gaming floor unchallenged and gambled at several slot machines. She left the gambling floor after 36 minutes and attempted to re-enter the gaming floor at which time she was identified as being underage. Security reported the incident to Commission staff.
Mr. Ohorilko advised Count Two is an unusual situation. On October 13, 2021, a grandmother brought her 4-year old grandchild to the facility, and entered the casino sportsbook area. She entered unchallenged, and put the 4-year old on her lap who then began hitting buttons. They were on the floor approximately 11 minutes. A PointsBet employee recognized the issue and brought it to the attention of a security guard, who escorted them off the floor. Mr. Ohorilko stated this would be the third incident in the past 365 days. Of the two counts, the first incident meets the Commission criteria for the resolution; the second one is outside the box. Mr. Ohorilko stated Catfish Bend has agreed to an administrative penalty up to $40,000.
Rob Higgins, General Manager, stated he took full responsibility for the situation, and concurred the four-year old was an unusual situation. He stated that particular incident occurred on the PointsBet casino floor. The PointBet employee was previously on the Count Team for Catfish and recognized immediately there was an issue and took action. Mr. Higgins stated the security guard at the turnstile had made comments a couple days earlier that he didn’t want to continue working there and was looking for a reason to be fired. When this group of patrons approached the turnstile, he didn’t look up from his post, and Mr. Higgins feels the individuals intentionally entered the casino gaming floor with the child. Right after the incident, Mr. Higgins contacted the IRGC Gaming Representative, DCI representative, Surveillance and Director of Security to review the surveillance tapes and discuss the matter. He noted DCI went to the home of the individual involved and interviewed her. The security guard was terminated; the security guard stated he didn’t think people going to the sportsbook had to present identification. Following that comment by the guard, Mr. Higgins went to the Security Director and reviewed the VeriDocs system; they found 53 instances where that security officer was at the counter by himself and requested identification. Mr. Higgins stated he feels they have a great training program, but it only takes one person failing to follow procedures.
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the Stipulated Agreement with Catfish Bend Casinos II, L.C. with an administrative penalty of $40,000. Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
PUBLIC COMMENT/ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS: As there was no Public Comment, Chair Andres called on Mr. Ohorilko for administrative business.
HISA Update: Mr. Ohorilko stated the rules pertaining to the racetrack safety component go into effect on July 1st. He advised Commission staff and the industry continue to meet and discuss implementation. Prairie Meadows had HISA officials out to complete the racetrack safety accreditation to insure the racetrack is doing everything necessary to comply with the proposed rules. They feel the inspection went well but the results have not been received at this time. Mr. Ohorilko advised the industry is still very unhappy with HISA; however, the HBPA is moving ahead with various educational classes and training for all horse industry participants that work on the backside. There is a requirement to get them registered, and obtain CEUs depending on the type of position and responsibilities on the backside. Mr. Ohorilko noted there were two deadlines from HISA that he addressed at the April meeting; one was to pay the first assessment of $215,000. Prairie Meadows and the IHBPA have agreed to use some old purse money in the amount of $55,000 to pay part of the assessment and the remaining amount will be split between them. The proposal has been submitted to HISA but they have not yet accepted the proposal. There will be continued discussions into the fall as assessment for next year will include drug testing and could be higher. With regard to rule compliance, Mr. Ohorilko advised the Commission and Prairie Meadows have worked together. He stated the Commission did not execute a Voluntary Implementation Agreement with HISA, which is consistent with many jurisdictions across the country but did provide a letter informing HISA that compliance will occur in the state and that the Commission and Prairie Meadows will cooperate. The letter further detailed what the Commission’s responsibilities will be in order to comply with the various components of the rule. Mr. Ohorilko stated he has not received an official response from HISA, but has been informed by HISA they appreciate the acknowledgement and that it satisfied any concerns they had.
Approval of Regulatory Fees for FY 2023: Mr. Ohorilko noted the Legislature had just adjourned, and the Commission has not received the complete budget at this time. He advised that consistent with past years when there has been a delay in getting the budget, the Commission staff is seeking approval of regulatory fees as assigned for Fiscal Year 2022 through the month of July. An updated regulatory fee schedule will be submitted for approval at the July Commission meeting. Mr. Ohorilko advised the regulatory fees have been shared with the industry and he has not received any comments from the industry. He requested approval of the regulatory fee schedules.
Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the regulatory fee schedules as submitted. Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
Legislative Update: Mr. Ohorilko advised there were three bills that were passed by the Legislature. House File 803 relates to the duties performed by a physician’s assistant. This will not impact how the Commission does things, but there were some rules and laws that were changed in areas where physicians were permitted or required to perform duties that could be performed by physician’s assistants. In practice, people were accepting certifications from the physician’s assistants. The Commission will update the rules to be consistent with the law.
House File 2378, an act relating to pari-mutuel wagering, has two components. The first part increases the purse monies designated to the HBPA for administration from 2% to 4%. The increased money will come from the purse allocation to the thoroughbreds. This will change in 2023; the HPBA will receive the increased funds for administration purposes but the change does not increase the overall purse money paid by Prairie Meadows.
This same act creates a Horse Race After Care fund, which will be funded by the Commission from monies collected from penalties associated with 99D activities. All penalties collected will be deposited into the fund, which will be distributed in the spring each year. Organizations would have to apply to the Commission to receive the funds.
House File 2497 contains many pieces of unrelated items. One section provides for cashless wagering on the gaming floor, which became popular during the pandemic. Another section makes it a criminal offense for someone to pass themselves off as someone else when claiming a jackpot that is subject to an offset or self-exclusion. This section also prohibits the Commission from initiating any administrative action or imposing penalties on a licensee who voluntarily reports the incident. From a sports wagering standpoint, some additional markets have been permitted such as sports charity events, draft markets, and player of the year markets. Another section stated occupational licensing will be limited to the administration, control, and conduct of gambling games and sports wagering. This relates to the Class O license issue so that class will go away. There has already been a discussion concerning the two-year moratorium on gambling licenses. The bill also includes a component to transfer the off-track betting or simulcasting from the Iowa Greyhound Association to the Iowa HBPA, who will need to get licensed in order to step into that role.
Mr. Ohorilko stated these are awaiting the Governor’s signature, and if signed, will go into effect July 1st. Should that occur, the Commission will be sending out guidelines and work on updated rules. The rules will not be in effect, but the law will pre-empt any existing rules. He assured the Commissioners staff would be ready to implement the changes on July 1st.
ADJOURN: Hearing no further business to come before the Commission, Chair Andres requested a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Horbach so moved. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.