IRGC Meeting - Osceola

Meeting Time: Thursday, March 3, 2022
Meeting Location

HGI-Lakeside
777 Casino Dr.
Osceola , IA 50213

Meeting Agenda Document:
Meeting Agenda

1.APPROVE AGENDA
2.WELCOME – David Monroe, General Manager
3.APPROVE MINUTES – From January 13, 2022 Commission Meeting
4.ANNOUNCEMENTS
A. April 14, 2022 – Mid America Center, 1 Arena Way, Council Bluffs (Host: Horseshoe Casino) (Submissions due by March 31, 2022)
B. May 2022 – No Meeting
C. June 3, 2022 – Wild Rose Emmetsburg, Emmetsburg
5.NATIONAL PROBLEM GAMBLING AWARENESS MONTH – Katrina Bee, CPS, Program Lead, Office of Problem Gambling, Iowa Department of Public Health
6.REQUEST FOR APPROVAL OF REMODELING PURSUANT TO 491 IAC 5.4(15)
A. Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L.C.
B. IOC Black Hawk County, Inc.
C. Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C.
7.ADVANCE DEPOSIT SPORTS WAGERING OPERATOR AGREEMENT – HGI-Lakeside, LLC – Online Sports Wagering Access Agreement with Smarkets Holdings (USA), Inc.
8.IOWA GAMING ASSOCIATION – Annual Report of Qualified Community County Foundation Projects
9.LINN COUNTY DISCUSSSION
10.RACING DISCUSSION
11.EXCURSION GAMBLING BOAT AND GAMBLING STRUCTURE LICENSE RENEWALS (OSV – OUT OF STATE VENDOR; RP = RELATED PARTY
A. Iowa West Racing Association/Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, LLC
B. Washington County Riverboat Foundation, Inc./Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, LLC Contracts:
1.Brockway Mechanical & Roofing – Event Center Remodel
2.Per Mar Security Services – Security Officer Services
3.Sitler’s Supplies, Inc. – Event Center Remodel
C. Regional Development Authority/Rhythm City Casino, LLC
D. Worth County Development Authority/Diamond Jo Worth, LLC d/b/a Diamond Jo Worth Contracts:
1.Innowave Marketing Group, LLC – Boyd B Connected Gift Program-Iowa (OSV)
2.Martin Bros. Distributing – Food, Paper Supplies, Smallwares, and Equipment
3.Cummins-Allison Corp – Purchase of Equipment and Maintenance Contracts for Equipment in Cage and Soft Count
E. Black Hawk County Gaming Association/IOC Black Hawk County, Inc.
F. Missouri River Historical Development, Inc./SCE Partners, LLC d/b/a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City
G. Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, Inc./Grand Falls Casino Resort, LLC Contracts:
1.Kustom Epoxy Floors – Kitchen Flooring Resurfacing Project (OSV)
2.Mark-It-Smart – Continuity and Promotion Agreements (OSV)
H. Dubuque Racing Association, LTD/Diamond Jo, LLC d/b/a Diamond Jo Casino Contract: Innowave Marketing Group, LLC – Boyd B Connected Gift Program (OSV)
I. Scott County Regional Authority/Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L.C. Contracts:
1.Loffredo – Produce Vendor
2.Sam’s Club – Supplier for Miscellaneous Goods for Resale
3.Schebler – Metal Fabrication and Equipment Installation Services
4.Standard Textile – Purchase of Hotel Linens (OSV)
5.Tri-City Electric Company – General Property Electrical Repairs
6.Aramark – Rental of Floor Mats and Kitchen Towels
7.Crescent Laundry – Laundry Services for Hotel Linen and Towels
J. Iowa West Racing Association/Harveys Iowa Management Company LLC Contracts:
1.Leick Construction – Construction Vendor
2.Johnson Controls – Fire Protection
3.Black Hawk Roof Company – Construction Vendor
4.Midwest Glass and Glazing – Construction Vendor
K. Dubuque Racing Association, LTD
L. Clarke County Development Corporation/HGI-Lakeside, LLC Contracts:
1.Comp Trading, LLC – Marketing Giveaway Items
2.Nagle Signs, Inc. – Major Signage
M. Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission/Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC Huckleberry Holdings, LLC – Amendment to Facility Lease
N. Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation/Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C. Contracts:
1.Performance Food Group, Inc. – Food Distributor
2.Wellmark – Employee Health Insurance Premiums
O. Clinton County Development Association/Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C Contracts:
1.7G Distributing LLC – Beer Distributor
2.Carpetland – Carpeting Hotel Rooms; Hotel Hallway, and Promenade
3.Owen Meyer Construction – Concrete Repairs to the Parking Lot
4.Pigott – Furniture for Coaches Corner Remodel
5.Wellmark – Employee Health Insurance Premiums
P. Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation/Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C. Contracts:
1.Wellmark – Employee Health Insurance Premiums
2.Performance Food Service – Food Service for All Venues
Q. Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation/Casino Queen Marquette, Inc.
12.IOWA GREYHOUND ASSOCIATION D/B/A IOWA GREYHOUND PARK
A. Request for Approval of the 45-Day Plan for the 2022 Meet
B. Contract: United Healthcare – Renewal of Health Insurance for Full Time Employees
13.CONTRACT APPROVALS (OSV – OUT OF STATE VENDOR; RP – RELATED PARTY)
A. Iowa West Racing Association d/b/a Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs – Johnson Controls – Fire Protection
B. Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Inc.
1.ADP (Automatic Data Processing) – Payroll and Human Resources Software
2.Carlson Group – Consulting Services
3.Dell Marketing – Computer Equipment
4.Mid Country Machinery – Track Equipment
14.PUBLIC COMMENT
15.ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESS
A. Review of Year-to-Date Economic Impact Reports
B. Notice of Horse Racing Promotion Fund
C. Notice of Purse Amounts Pursuant to Iowa Code § 99F.6(4)a(3)
16.ADJOURN

Meeting Minutes Document:
Meeting Minutes

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) met on Thursday, March 3, 2022 at Lakeside Casino Hotel (Lakeside) in Osceola, 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 Burkhart moved to approve the agenda as presented.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

WELCOME: David Monroe, General Manger, welcomed the Commission to Osceola, and thanked them for the opportunity to host the meeting.

APPROVE MINUTES: Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the minutes from the January 13, 2022 Commission meeting as submitted.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

ANNOUNCEMENTS: Brian Ohorilko, Administrator, advised the next Commission meeting would be held at the Mid America Center in Council Bluffs; the host is Horseshoe Casino.  Submissions for that meeting are due in the Des Moines office by March 31, 2022.  There will be no meeting in May.  The June 3rd meeting will be held at Wild Rose Emmetsburg.

Mr. Ohorilko introduced Gaming Representative Hilary Brown, who is assigned to Lakeside, and thanked her for her work on behalf of IRGC.

NATIONAL PROBLEM GAMBLING AWARENESS MONTH: Katrina Bee, CPS, Program Lead for the Office of Problem Gambling in the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), presented a brief PowerPoint covering the prevention and treatment services available through the program and Your Life Iowa; the different materials available to various organizations to help reach those who may be experiencing problem gambling issues, and television ads highlighting problem gambling and where to seek help.  She noted the various gambling opportunities available to Iowans.  Ms. Bee advised the National Council on Problem Gambling estimates the national cost of problem gambling at $7 billion annually.  She noted IDPH has established 19 service areas covering all 99 counties.  Service providers are selected through a Request for Proposal process and licensed by IDPH. The website is https://yourlifeiowa.org/gambling.

REQUEST FOR APPROVAL OF REMODELING PURSUANT TO 491 IAC 5.4(15):
Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L.C.: Nancy Ballenger, General Manager, requested permission to repurpose a portion of the buffet space, which was closed in March 2020, and has remained closed.  The area, which is located near the main entrance, would allow for the addition of non-smoking gaming space and include approximately 46 slot machines.  This space will utilize the separate air-handling units in the buffet space. She advised the facility is getting requests for a non-smoking area, and receiving positive feedback on the possibility of that happening. Ms. Ballenger anticipates the non-smoking area will allow the facility to capture some revenue from the Illinois markets.

The project would also allow for the relocation of the existing Caesars Sports Book.  This move would create a more comfortable space and possibly allow for the broadcasting of PPV events and other events, which could benefit handle and food & beverage revenues. 

The estimated cost for the entire project is $100,000, and will occur in April.  She advised they are looking at another area within the property to potentially add another food and beverage area.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the remodeling request of Isle of Capri Bettendorf as submitted.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

IOC Black Hawk County, Inc.: Chad Moine, General Manager, submitted a request to expand the existing arcade into an office space and the non-smoking slot area of the gaming floor to the north. Along with the remodeling of the space and removal of slot machines, the facility intends to purchase additional arcade games and add a party room.  The estimated cost for the project is $400,000. 

Mr. Moine advised an amusement park is being built across from the property and is slated to open this summer, which they hope will draw more families to the property.  They feel this project will make the facility more family friendly, and provide an option for some of the younger guests.

Commissioner Horbach asked if the facility is redefining their identity as family-oriented.   He noted their proximity to the Lost Island Water Park.  Mr. Moine answered in the affirmative; they are looking to become more of a family resort destination.  He noted they have added a pizza restaurant. 

Commissioner Horbach asked if the amusement park is on track to open this summer.  Mr. Moine stated that it is from what they have been hearing.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the remodeling request of IOC Black Hawk County, Inc. as presented.  Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C.:  Rick Gilson, Director of Operations for Wild Rose Entertainment, submitted a request to remodel the Coaches Corner Sports Bar.  The project includes moving the sports wagering area and sportsbook into the adjacent existing buffet area, which will expand Coaches Corner by approximately 12 feet.  This is phase one of the project.  The second phase will include interior upgrades to the existing remaining buffet space to create a cohesive restaurant space.  The estimated budget for Phase 1 is $716,437, while Phase 2 is estimated at $331,180.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the remodeling request of Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C. as presented.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

ADVANCE DEPOSIT SPORTS WAGERING OPERATOR AGREEMENT: Erin Barnett, legal counsel for Affinity Gaming, presented the Online Sports Wagering Access Agreement between Smarkets Holdings (USA) and HGI-Lakeside, LLC d/b/a Lakeside Hotel Casino..  Ms. Barnett stated Lakeside is excited about the product offerings provided by Smarkets.  The company is currently operating in Colorado, and is looking to expand to other markets.

Commissioner Horbach noted Lakeside is hosting a Grand Opening of the Daily Racing Form sportsbook immediately following the meeting and invited everyone to visit the sportsbook.  He indicated it was impressive.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the Advance Deposit Sports Wagering Operator Agreement between Smarkets Holdings (USA) and HGI-Lakeside, LLC d/b/a Lakeside Hotel Casino as presented.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

IOWA GAMING ASSOCIATION: Mr. Ohorilko advised the Iowa Gaming Association, in collaboration with the Iowa Council of Foundations, has prepared the “Building Communities Through Philanthropy” annual report, which highlights the grants provided to the qualified community foundations in the 94 non-casino counties.  Page 7 of the report shows that 1,692 grants totaling $8.92 million were distributed by the non-casino county foundations. The grants are in addition to the qualified sponsoring organization grants distributed through the gaming counties.  He advised that additional copies of the report were available at the back of the meeting room for those interested in a copy.

LINN COUNTY DISCUSSION: Chair Andres noted a referendum passed in Linn County, which has created some discussion among the Commissioners.  She advised the Commission will be directing staff to prepare an application and will be releasing a time frame for anyone wishing to submit applications at a later date.

Commissioner Olsen stated it is the Commission’s responsibility since Linn County passed the referendum to look at a timeline to open up the application process and review any submitted applications.

Commissioner Horbach requested that the directive to staff be that the application is for eligible applications with the process involving the passing of a referendum within the county.

Chair Andres stated the impetus for the directive to prepare an application is the passage of the referendum in Linn County.

RACING DISCUSSION: Chair Andres stated the Commission had an opportunity to meet individually with Prairie Meadows, the Iowa Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, and the Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association.  The purpose was to provide an opportunity for open dialogue to learn about the challenges facing the industry.  She advised the Commissioners found the meetings to be very informational, and they have provided some feedback to Mr. Ohorilko.

Mr. Ohorilko stated he had summarized the recommendations from the Commissioners, which they would appreciate the parties considering for the upcoming race meet:

  • Prairie Meadows – The Marketing Team, IHBPA and IQHRA meet to discuss marketing strategies for the meet.
  • Prairie Meadows work to enhance the race day experience for the patrons, including evaluating the logistical factors such as the placement of additional food and beverage outlets, mutuel tellers on the track apron during peak times, and the entertainment value factor such as the implementation of special events and entertainment between races.
  • Continuing the discussion with all parties to how best enhance the field size in races, and
  • Fully support the Commission’s enforcement of intentional improper scratchers that occur during the races.

He noted the Commission is also directing staff to gather some information for a study outlining the long-term strategic plan for racing in the State of Iowa.  The study would include the evaluation of the current state of the industry in the Midwest and provide recommendations on purses, race dates, timing of the meet, and marketing strategies in an effort to sustain, and hopefully strengthen, the racing and breeding industry in Iowa.

Chair Andres thanked everyone for attending the industry discussions.  Commissioner Burkhart advised the Commission has decided to attend the races one day in July.

EXCURSION GAMBLING BOAT AND GAMBLING STRUCTURE LICENSE RENEWALS   (OSV – OUT OF STATE VENDOR; RP = RELATED PARTY):
Chair Andres advised the Commission is interested in hearing about the hours of operations, if the facility is back to full-strength, and if all amenities open pre-Covid have re-opened.  They will also be looking at cap ex; some facilities are doing great while others are not. She advised they will also be looking at qualified sponsoring organization (QSO) distributions.

Iowa West Racing Association/Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, LLC (IWRA/Ameristar): Paul Czak, General Manager, and Brenda Mainwaring, President and Chief Executive Officer for IWRA, were present to address the license renewal.  Ms. Mainwaring thanked everyone for attending the QSO gathering in January.  The function allowed the attendees to talk about the various best practices utilized in making their grant distributions.  Ms. Mainwaring stated she was amazed to learn about how the QSOs have impacted Iowa.

Ms. Mainwaring requested approval of the license renewal.  She advised the Iowa West Foundation has distributed $1 million per year for scholarships for non-traditional high school students, and another million for preschool students.  Funds were provided to Pottawattamie County to purchase additional land to be added to the Loess Hills area.  IWRA also distributes funds to the rural communities to help fund their development projects, along with federal funds, that would not be possible without these funds.

Mr. Czak stated 2021 was a good year for Council Bluffs as a whole as the facilities were able to operate without restrictions for the first time in quite some time, and are returning operations to the pre-Covid stage.  He advised they have added 87 new jobs, awarded over $50,000 in bonuses to front-line team members, and provided $20,000 in scholarships to children of team members.  He noted 27 team members have been there since Day 1.  Ameristar’s Iowa spend increased to 92%.  Mr. Czak stated the hotel is operating 24/7 and is at full capacity.  The sports bar, sports book and Club 38 never closed.  He advised the only dining option not open is Bella’s; the gift shop is also not open, but Iowa products are available elsewhere on the property.  Capital spend was between $600,000 and $700,000.  Mr. Czak stated there are several projects started that have not been completed at this time; they will close throughout the year as equipment becomes available.

Commissioner Olsen noted those are repairs versus improvements.  He noted there were previous discussions about refurbishing the hotel.  He noted there will be changes across the river when gaming commences.  Commissioner Olsen stated that $1 million is a lot of money, but it was spent on repairs versus guest-facing improvements. 

Mr. Czak stated the age of the vessel requires a lot of maintenance.  He advised guest-facing capital improvements are slated for this year, most of which are technology-based.  Some bathrooms will be remodeled.  Mr. Czak stated the hotel is still a priority; however, 2021 was a difficult year for Penn’s southern properties, and the company has prioritized projects at those facilities. 

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Iowa West Racing Association, renew the license to operate Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, LLC as an excursion boat that will not cruise, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Ameristar Casino Council Bluffs, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Washington County Riverboat Foundation/Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, LLC (WCRF/Riverside): Shawn Ellingson, President of WCRF, advised the eight municipalities in Washington County received 25% of the revenue that came in, or $1.88 million. WCRF also distributed several smaller grants totaling $123,000.  He advised WCRF distributed $1.35 million during the large grant process, for a total distribution in 2021 of $2,661,000.  He provided some highlights regarding the larger grants.  Mr. Ellingson stated since its inception WCRF has awarded $51 million to non-profits in southeast Iowa, has had 30 different board members, and has an excellent working relationship with Riverside.  He advised WCRF partnered with the Kehl Family and Elite Casinos to give $500,000 to Linn County to help with derecho expenses/repairs. He requested renewal of the licenses.

Damon John, General Manager, advised the facility has been in operation for fifteen years, and looks as good as or better than when the facility opened on August 31, 2006.  They completed an almost $3 million remodel of the event center.  He stated the next big undertaking will be the remodeling and refresh of the hotel rooms; they hope to bring those plans before the Commission later this year.  Mr. John stated 81 employees have been with the facility since it opened.  With regard to hours of operation, Mr. John advised they are nearly at pre-Covid operations; the valet department is still closed.  The buffet is open Thursday through Sunday.  He advised everything else at the property is back to pre-Covid operations.

Commissioner Horbach asked Mr. John to meet with him after the meeting to discuss the security plan.  Commissioner Burkhart noted the calls to local law enforcement more than doubled, and asked what that was attributable to. 

Mr. John stated he had thought about that.  He stated his response is speculation, but guessed it could be attributed to Covid-19 stress.  He stated the number of calls have declined in January and February of this year.  He feels time will ease some of those concerns.

Chair Andres commended Mr. John and the facility on the cap ex.  Riverside does a great job and it is reflected in the appearance of the facility.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion. Commissioner Campbell moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Washington County Riverboat Foundation, Inc., renew the license to operate Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, LLC as a gambling structure, and renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, LLC.  Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Mr. Damon presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Brockway Mechanical & Roofing – Event Center Remodel
  • Per Mar Security Services – Security Officer Services
  • Sitler’s Supplies, Inc. – Event Center Remodel

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the contracts as submitted by Riverside.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Regional Development Authority/Rhythm City Casino, LLC (RDA/Rhythm City): Mo Hyder, General Manager, introduced Matt Mendenhall, President and CEO of RDA, and Steve Geifman, Vice Chair of RDA.  He advised Rhythm City and RDA have a great working relationship, and work together to find opportunities to help improve the quality of life in the Quad Cities area.  Mr. Hyder stated their operations have been at pre-Covid levels for quite some time, and attributed that to the fact that when the facility had to shut, they continued to pay their employees which kept them on board.  When the facility was able to reopen, the long-term tenured employees played a huge role in that success.  Mr. Hyder stated 2021 was a record year, which was evident in the contributions to the State of Iowa, Scott County, City of Davenport, and RDA.  He advised the economic impact on the State of Iowa was 79.4%, and spend with Iowa vendors was approximately 96%. 

With regard to cap ex, Mr. Hyder stated Elite Casinos Resorts places a high priority on maintaining their properties.  He noted the license renewal included an annual $1 million cap ex, and they plan to spend approximately $2 million renovating the hotel in 2024. In 2023 and 2024, Elite plans to spend approximately $50 million to add another hotel tower and expand the convention center. Mr. Hyder stated approximately $57 million would be spent on the Rhythm City property over the next five years.

Mr. Mendenhall thanked the Commission members for their support in maintaining the unique funding mechanism in Iowa.  He stated RDA started a charitable fund through the Community Foundation to fund legacy grants.  Mr. Mendenhall stated RDA values their partnership with Rhythm City, who goes beyond what is required by their agreement.  After the spring grant cycle, RDA will have distributed over $80 million in grants since 1981.  Board members have reviewed over 7,500 grants and provided funds to 4,500 entities.  Mr. Mendenhall stated their top priority at this time is affordable housing, and started an educational series on local affordable strategies.  He stated RDA funded $600,000 in grants for affordable housing.  Mr. Mendenhall requested approval of the license renewal application.

Mr. Geifman stated RDA is excited to be a partner with IRGC and RDA.  He stated the impact of the RDA on the community is easy to see. 

Mr. Hyder requested approval of the license renewal.

Commissioner Horbach complimented Elite Casino Resorts on the cleanliness of their properties.  He noted cap ex for 2021 was projected at $736,000, but only $486,000 was completed, and $710,000 is projected for 2022.   He noted the cap ex numbers are consistent, but it appears something fell behind. 

Mr. Hyder advised some of the issues on the projects are two or three-fold and relate to the timing of labor availability and supply chain issues.  Two projects were delayed as Elite is exploring the opportunity to make a larger capital investment at the property and it makes more sense for those to be included in that project.  The marquee board got held up by the Zoning Board; they are going to try to accomplish that this year as part of a $57 million cap ex project.

Commissioner Horbach stated his understanding is that $710,000 in cap ex is projected for 2022 with $600,000 already in place, and another $110,000 is being added.  Mr. Hyder answered in the affirmative.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Regional Development Authority, renew the license to operate Rhythm City Casino, LLC as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Rhythm City Casino, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Worth County Development Authority/Diamond Jo Worth, LLC d/b/a Diamond Jo Worth (WCDA/DJW):  Scott Smith, General Manager, advised WCDA receives 5.76% from DJW, and since 2006, WCDA has received over $77 million.  He introduced Deb Hanson, Chief Financial Officer, for WCDA. 

Ms. Hanson stated WCDA has a great relationship with DJW, and they are a great partner.  She noted education is still a main priority for WCDA.  In 2021, 84 Worth County students qualified to receive a $7,600 scholarship. WCDA committed over $1,354,000 to the five school districts, Educational funds are also used to provide every student in Pre-K through 12th grade with a $75.00 gift card through the “Back to School” program.  Ms. Hanson advised WCDA supported the restoration of a vacant building in Northwood which was turned into an event center, which has been a big success.   She requested renewal of the licenses.

Mr. Smith advised the facility was open 24/7 pre-Covid, but is currently open from 8:00 AM to 3:00 AM Monday through Thursday, and 24/7 on the weekend. He attributed the shorter hours during the week to staffing issues.  He noted the property is located in a rural area; current team members are dedicated and do a great job.  They have raised the minimum starting wage to $15.00/hour for non-tip positions, with the average being $16.64.  He indicated the wage is a market-leader in the area, and they continue to look at benefits and other ways to amplify what benefits are provided to team members.  Wages paid last year were just over $10 million, and they paid out two rounds of significant bonuses to team members.  Mr. Smith stated the company continued to pay the employees and their insurance during the shutdown.  With regard to amenities located on property, the buffet area is utilized as an ala carte restaurant Thursday through Sunday, Wood Fire Grille is open Tuesday through Saturday, and Subway is open seven days a week.  He advised Burger King left the property due to staffing issues, and they are looking to rebrand that area as a Burger Joint.  Mr. Smith advised they are doing a cage remodel in order to create a better flow pattern for guests.  They are working on plans to turn the buffet space into a gastro pub, and hope to share those plans in the near future. 

Commissioner Burkhart noted the distributions from WCDA were 2.6%, below the statutorily required 3%.  She noted they received over $6 million from DJW.  Ms. Hanson noted all funds are committed/granted, but have not paid out yet.  One area that has not paid out is the scholarships; she advised a local community college has been providing first year students with tuition so is not sure how to address that issue.  Ms. Hanson advised they did not receive as many grant requests for the spring round but did receive more in the fall; however due to supply chain issues many projects are taking longer to complete. 

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Worth County Development Authority, renew the license to operate Diamond Jo Worth, LLC as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Diamond Jo Worth, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion.

Mr. Smith presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Innowave Marketing Group, LLC – Boyd B Connected Gift Program-Iowa (OSV)
  • Martin Bros. Distributing – Food, Paper Supplies, Smallwares, and Equipment
  • Cummins-Allison Corp – Purchase of Equipment and Maintenance Contracts for Equipment in Cage and Soft Count

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contracts as submitted by DJW.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Black Hawk County Gaming Association/IOC Black Hawk County, Inc. (BHCGA/IOCW): Mr. Moine advised 2020 was a challenging year, but the property bounced back in 2021 and saw increased revenues.  He noted the facility also experienced supply chain issues causing delays in the completion of projects, and faced labor shortages, particularly in the hospitality area.  Mr. Moine stated the facility is open 24 hours on the weekend, but closes at 3:00 AM Monday through Thursday due to staffing shortages in skilled gaming positions. He stated the facility has done three rounds of wage increases, offered sign-on bonuses, and hosted hiring fairs.  With regard to the future, Mr. Moine stated it is uncertain due to the high inflation, and the possibility of a casino in Linn County.  He reiterated the property is making changes to make it more of a family destination resort due to the addition of the amusement park across the street.  They are looking at expanding the Brew Brothers area and remodeling the hotel.  Mr. Moine stated the property hopes to return to 24/7 operation eventually.  He noted the property will be celebrating their fifteen year anniversary this year.  He introduced Emily Hansen, Executive Director, of BHCGA.

Ms. Hansen stated they have an exceptional partnership with IOCW.  She stated BHCGA’s mission is to help the Cedar Valley area prosper, and is what drives their funding decisions.  In the last fiscal year, BHCGA distributed $3,781,300 to 24 different projects.  She highlighted some of the different projects.  Since July 2007, BHCGA has awarded $60 million to 616 projects.  Ms. Hansen stated that while 90% of their funds remain in Black Hawk County, the Board uses the other 10% to cover projects in the counties of Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Grundy and Tama.  As grants fund one-third of a project, BHCGA’s $60 million has leveraged up to another $120 million in investment for a total investment of $180 million in the area.  Ms. Hansen requested approval of the license renewal.

Commissioner Burkhart noted the distribution percentage for BHCGA fell short of the statutorily required 3% on paper by one-half of a percent, or $500,000.  She noted some of that could be timing oriented, and reiterated that Ms. Hansen indicated $3 million was committed.  Ms. Hansen stated BHCGA has $7 million committed to projects; the shortfall is due to the reimbursement process.  Projects are not getting completed due to supply chain issues.  She advised funds are currently paid out based on a reimbursement request, but the board is looking at changing to a funding process rather than a reimbursement request.

Commissioner Olsen asked if the hotel remodel is scheduled for this year, and if so, when it was anticipated to be complete.  Mr. Moine stated they hope to bring the project before the Commission at the April meeting and have it completed this year.

Commissioner Olsen asked why the facility is not calling the local police in various situations, but particularly those involving minors.  He urged them to start doing so; if there are no consequences, they will keep trying to gain access to the casino floor.  Mr. Moine stated they do call the local police; however, they either do not respond or do nothing when they do respond.  Commissioner Olsen stated the Commission will have to look into the matter to see if there is anything they can do to help.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Olsen moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Black Hawk County Gaming Association, renew the license to operate IOC Black Hawk County, Inc. as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to IOC Black Hawk County, Inc. and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Missouri River Historical Development, Inc./SCE Partners, LLC d/b/a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City (MRHD/HRHC): Mike Adams, Assistant General Manager, expressed regrets on behalf of Doug Fisher, General Manager, who was unable to attend.  He introduced Steve Huisenga and Katie Colling, President and Executive Director of MHRD respectively. 

Mr. Huisenga advised the parties have a great partnership.  He stated MRHD distributed over $5 million in 2021, and has distributed over $32 million since 2014.  He stated the facility is beautiful and unique.  Mr. Huisenga stated HRHC is very active in the community and is a good corporate organization.  He noted MRHD committed $1 million to the Sioux City Riverfront project, which was payable over several years; however, they have decided to pay that off early.  He stated they are still committed to funding the Lewis & Clark Museum. Mr. Huisenga stated the Governance Committee revised the By-Laws to strengthen them.  He requested approval of the license renewal.

Mr. Adams stated the property is pretty much back to pre-Covid operations except for the buffet, which has remained closed.  The space is being utilized for VIP events, sales events, and will be used for a St. Patrick’s Day event.  He stated the return of entertainment has been robust and continues to ramp up.  The facility is currently open from 7:00 AM to 4:00 AM Monday through Thursday; the down time is utilized to deep clean the property. They are open 24 hours on the weekend.  Mr. Adams advised the property is still struggling with staffing, but feels they are doing ok.  They take tremendous pride in the presentation of the property.  He noted a significant amount of cap ex has been spent on the property since opening, and they don’t anticipate that to stop.

Commissioner Campbell asked if the proposed acquisition by Churchill Downs would affect the amount of cap ex.  Mr. Adams stated it was too early to say, and above his pay grade. He did indicate there have been discussions, and feels business will continue as usual.

Commissioner Burkhart noted non-profit distributions exceeded the statutory requirement, and commended them for their effort.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Missouri River Historical Development, Inc., renew the license operate SCE Partners, LLC as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to SCE Partners, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, Inc./Grand Falls Casino Resort, LLC (LCRF/GFCR):  Sharon Haselhoff, General Manager, and Randy Waagmeester, President of LCRF, were present to address the license renewal and requested approval of same.  Ms. Haselhoff stated 2021 was a record year for GFCR in gaming and non-gaming revenue; gaming revenue was approximately $90 million with $1.3 million coming from the sportsbook.  Revenue increased 63% over 2020. Total revenue was almost $105 million, representing an increase of 64% over 2020.  Ms. Haselhoff indicated the property saw record setting revenues in gaming, hotel, food and beverage, spa and golf course.  The addition of the 66-room hotel in 2020 proved to be an exceptional investment to the bottom line.  They started the refresh of the gaming floor in 2021 with new carpet, gaming chairs, a slot machine move and cosmetic changes.  Capital expenses in 2021 were in excess of $2.1 million; $1.2 million is budgeted for 2022 plus the additional $1.5 million budgeted for operational expenses.  Renovations for 2022 include the restaurants, restrooms throughout the facility and finishing up the casino floor.  Ms. Haselhoff advised LCRF is an excellent partner to work with; WCRF received a record $3.3 million, which was a 65% increase over 2020.  She stated the property is open 24/7.  The only outlet with a significant operational change is the buffet, which is open Friday and Saturday nights, and Sunday breakfast and brunch.  She stated the area is utilized for group sales during the week.  She noted the facility is short on employees like everyone else, but do the best they can with the employees they have.  Ms. Haselhoff stated the employees are excited to receive their quarterly profit sharing checks.

Mr. Waagmeester advised LCRF consists of 13 members, 8 women and 5 men, representing each town and city in Lyon County, as well as the rural areas.  He stated the record amount received from GFCR allowed them to fund many worthwhile and beneficial projects.  He advised it is LCRF’s policy to distribute 50% of the funds received through non-competitive grants to the municipalities, the schools and Lyon County.  In 2021, Lyon County received approximately $112,000, the three school districts each received in excess of $265,000, and the eight cities and towns in Lyon County received between $80,000 and $100,000.  They also do a mini-grant program in which they accept applications from the tri-state area where GFCR is located.  Mr. Waagmeester advised over $100,000 was paid out in 52 mini-grants.  LCRF conducts one competitive grant cycle annually for larger projects and activities; they awarded over $600,000 last fall.  Previously, they funded a multi-year $2 million grant to the Lyon County Conservation for an education/event center, which has been completed and is where the fall grant award program was held.  Day care facilities were funded in Rock Rapids and George, a new pool in Inwood, and they recently approved an application to remodel a building at the Lyon County Fairgrounds for use by all of the 4-H groups in the county.  Mr. Waagmeester requested approval of the license renewal application.

Chair Andres congratulated the facility on their cap ex spending, noting the Commission does notice. 

Commissioner Horbach noted $2.6 million was projected for 2021, but $2.1 million was spent.  He noted the application indicates cap ex of $1.2 million for 2022.  The only rollover from 2021 was approximately $150,000.  Ms. Haselhoff advised items from 2021 rolling over to 2022 include $155,000 for the LED lighting for the waterfall.  Commissioner Horbach noted projections show $500,000 for renovations.  He asked if that $155,000 was included in that number, or if it was in addition to the $1.2 million.  Ms. Haselhoff advised there is a cap ex budget and an additional $1.5 million in the operational budget for items that don’t meet the cap ex budget line. 

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, Inc., renew the license to operate Grand Falls Casino Resort, LLC as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Grand Falls Casino Resort, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Ms. Haselhoff presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Kustom Epoxy Floors – Kitchen Flooring Resurfacing Project (OSV)
  • Mark-It-Smart – Continuity and Promotion Agreements (OSV)

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the contracts as submitted by GFCR.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Dubuque Racing Association, LTD/Diamond Jo, LLC d/b/a Diamond Jo Casino (DRA/DJ): Wendy Runde, General Manager, advised 2021 was a banner year for the Dubuque gaming market overall, as well as the DJ property specifically.  She stated sports wagering exploded with the return of sporting events.  At the DJ, sports wagering is driven by online wagering; however, sports wagering on site compliments their core amenities.  She stated the property continues to see new customers and a new demographic coming to the property.  Ms. Runde advised staffing is a challenge in Dubuque.  Hours of operation and amenities are curtailed compared to pre-Covid operations.  The buffet is closed with no intent to reopen; the space is used for special events.  Some conceptual work will be done this year on transforming the space, but the actual work will not commence until next year.  The Mississippi Moon Bar is averaging 2-3 shows per month. She advised a number of acts cancelled with the uptick of Covid cases in January, but they are seeing a shift in this area and are excited to have the venue open.  Ms. Runde advised the Woodfire Grill is open Tuesday through Saturday, The Filament and Subway are both open daily; however, The Game Sports Bar remains closed at this time.  She stated they are using some of the same initiatives as DJW to retain current staff and attract additional staff.  The facility is open 24/7 for gaming.  She reported Cherry Lanes is open and all leagues have returned to normal. With regard to cap ex, she noted the facility was 13 years old in December,  and it is important to keep the property looking fresh and in good condition.  Projects for 2021 were mostly back-of-house: a new humidifier, new kitchen floors, surveillance upgrades, new carpet, and new gaming chairs on the floor.  For 2022, projects will be more visible to the guests, but also include a kitchen expansion, some work at Tree Bar, which is the main casino floor bar, major LED lighting upgrades, and changing the surveillance system to digital.  Ms. Runde introduced Kevin Lynch, Board Chair of DRA, and Alex Dixon, President/CEO of DRA.   She advised DJ pays 4.5% of revenue to DRA, which amounted to $3.6 million in 2021.

Mr. Lynch requested approval of the gaming licenses.  He expressed appreciation for the work the Commissioners do, noting many people are affected by the Commission’s actions.  He stated DRA contributed $3.5 million to enhance the Veteran’s Memorial on Chaplain Schmitt Island; the ribbon cutting was held on Memorial Day 2021.  Mr. Lynch also talked about the Dream Center, which works with underprivileged youth.  DRA funding has allowed the center to purchase desks, books and computers, and install an elevator to allow access to the different floors.  He also referenced a park at a local hospital, which was partially funded by DRA.

Mr. Dixon requested approval of the gaming licenses.

Commissioner Campbell noted anticipated cap ex was $1.3 million in 2019 and $1.5 million in 2020, but actual expenditures were much lower.  For 2021, cap ex was projected at $1.4 million with $1.3 million completed.  He noted $3 million is projected for 2022; he asked if that is finishing projects or catching up. 

Ms. Runde advised it is both, but more moving forward than catching up.  She stated 2021 was a year of catch up; moving forward LED conversions and technology are high on the list.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Dubuque Racing Association, Ltd., renew the license to operate Diamond Jo, LLC as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Diamond Jo, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application. Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Ms. Runde presented a contract with Innowave Marketing Group, LLC for the Boyd B Connected Gift Program (OSV). 

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Olsen moved to approve the contract as submitted by DJ.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Scott County Regional Authority/Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L.C. (SCRA/IOCB): Ms. Ballenger introduced Kirk Anderson, President of SCRA.  She stated 2021 was a great year; it was their first full year under Caesars leadership.  She stated they moved from the riverboat to the land-based facility in 2015, and continue to benefit from that move.  Ms. Ballenger noted IOCB benefited from people coming to Iowa from Illinois to gamble as the casinos were closed in January, and some mitigations continued past that.  Another plus was the opening of I-74 Bridge, which had been closed for a number of years for reconstruction, in December 2021.  Ms. Ballenger stated the IOCB has the largest hotel in Iowa with 509 rooms, and 40,000 square feet of convention space.  She advised the Sales and Marketing team have booked 50 weddings as well as many other events. Ms. Ballenger stated the property is open 24/7, except valet which is still closed.  She acknowledged the importance of cap ex and advised $636,000 was spent in 2021 and some projects have been completed since the license renewal was submitted. For 2022, $1.5 million is projected, and will be focused on the hotel.  She stated larger projects are being considered for 2023 and beyond.

Mr. Anderson advised SCRA received 162 grant applications, and was able to fulfill 131 for a total just over $3.2 million.  Since 1991, SCRA has distributed $92.9 million, and hopes to surpass $100 million in the next 2-3 years.  He stated there were five key grants in 2021: $250,000 to the River Bend Food Bank; $150,000 over three cycle periods to support the capital campaign of Gilda’s Club Quad Cities to supports cancer survivors; $250,000 over four cycles to the Putnam Museum and Science Center for new facilities; and $165,000 to the Vera French Foundation over four cycles and $250,000 over four cycles to Humility Homes and Services.  Both organizations address affordable housing in the Quad Cities.  Ms. Ballenger stated IOCB has a great partnership with SCRA and requested approval of the license renewal.

Commissioner Olsen asked about staffing numbers, noting it is an issue for all properties.  Ms. Ballenger advised there are pockets; two areas are more challenging.  She stated they have increased the wages in those areas, but indicated they are in an OK position. 

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Olsen moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Scott County Regional Authority, renew the license to operate Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L.C. as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L.C., and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Ms. Ballenger presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Loffredo – Produce Vendor
  • Sam’s Club – Supplier for Miscellaneous Goods for Resale
  • Schebler – Metal Fabrication and Equipment Installation Services
  • Standard Textile – Purchase of Hotel Linens  (OSV)
  • Tri-City Electric Company – General Property Electrical Repairs
  • Aramark – Rental of Floor Mats and Kitchen Towels
  • Crescent Laundry – Laundry Services for Hotel Linen and Towels

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contracts as submitted by IOCB.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Iowa West Racing Association/Harveys Iowa Management Company LLC (IWRA/Harrahs): Ms. Mainwaring thanked Eldorado and Caesars for their commitment to address maintenance issues, and feels the Commission will be happy with the progress when they return to Council Bluffs in April.  Ms. Mainwaring noted a pizza venue was recently opened at the facility.  She requested approval of the license renewal and stated IWRA and Harrahs look forward to re-establishing Harrahs as a destination attraction.

Thomas Roberts, General Manager, advised over $4.8 million in projects have or will be started in 2022; $2.2 million in projects were started in 2021.  He indicated these projects are inclusive or part of the $20 million cap ex project.  Mr. Roberts stated Harrahs paid approximately $12 million to employees in wages and benefits, and all full-time employees received a $600 bonus in December.  The facility spent almost $2 million with Iowa vendors.  Mr. Roberts advised Harrahs is open 24/7, but they did reopen later than most of the Iowa properties.  He noted it has been a struggle to get everything open; the buffet reopened as a pizzeria, valet services are not available, and the hotel is 24/7.  Stir Cove had nine shows last year; there are currently 24 committed for 2022, and they are hoping get 30.  They are looking at space and concepts for a new restaurant space.  Mr. Roberts requested approval of the license renewal.

Commissioner Campbell asked about the agreement with IWRA.  Mr. Roberts stated the parties are trying to get something done for another 15 years, but want to make sure it works for both parties. He noted there are still two years left on the current agreement.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Iowa West Racing Association, renew the license to operate Harveys Iowa Management Company LLC as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Harveys Iowa Management Company LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Mr. Roberts presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Leick Construction – Construction Vendor
  • Johnson Controls – Fire Protection
  • Black Hawk Roof Company – Construction Vendor
  • Midwest Glass and Glazing – Construction Vendor

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contracts as presented by Harrahs.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Dubuque Racing Association, LTD: Mr. Lynch noted DRA held their monthly meeting at the DJ facility.  He advised DRA received $12 million from the two casino properties located in Dubuque; and were able to present a check for $4 million to the Mayor of Dubuque. Mr. Lynch stated the properties are going to work together to promote Dubuque as a gaming destination.

Mr. Dixon stated 2021 was a record year. He advised the property is open 24/7 on the weekends and is closed from 3:00 AM to 7:00 AM during the week.  He indicated the Farm House remains closed, but the space is utilized for special events.  Mr. Dixon reiterated the goal of the two Dubuque properties and the city to transform the city into a regional destination in order to compete with Wisconsin, Illinois and within Iowa.  He stated the City of Dubuque, Schmitt Island and local charities each received $4 million from DRA.  Mr. Dixon advised the pay for frontline cooks was increased from $13/hour to $20/hour.  Additionally, they have initiated a $100 longevity service bonus per month; a 20-year employee would receive a $2,000 payment to thank them for their service.   Mr. Dixon stated the outdoor patio was completed in 2021.

Commissioner Campbell asked for an update on the hotel.  Mr. Dixon stated the proposed hotel addition was put on hold due to Covid.  He indicated it was included in the master plan approved in 2014, which also included a pool, spa, bungalows, and gaming amenities.  He noted they will be taking over more space on the island, and are contemplating adding new amenities to the core gaming facility.  He stated he hopes to bring a plan before the Commission later this year.  They are looking at the financing structure and the actual plans.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Dubuque Racing Association, Ltd., renew the license to operate Dubuque Racing Association, Ltd as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Dubuque Racing Association, Ltd., and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application. Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Clarke County Development Corporation/HGI-Lakeside, LLC (CCDC/Lakeside): Mr. Monroe stated 2021 was a very good year for the facility; they started Phase 1 of a multi-year renovation.  Public spaces in the hotel and casino were renovated along with four restrooms, and a full remodel of the Lakeside Express and West Lake Bar & Grill.  They spent just under $4.7 million for cap ex, repairs and maintenance in 2021. For 2022, they will focus on the casino and some additional public spaces, and 2023 will focus on the hotel.  Mr. Monroe stated they are happy with the progress to date, and the planned remodel will keep the property competitive for years to come.  Operationally, Mr. Monroe advised admissions were up 34%.  He noted the property was open 24/7 pre-Covid; currently they are open 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM during the week and 24/7 on the weekend.  They have instituted wage increases in most departments.

Sue Wilder, President of CCDC, stated they have distributed over $13 million to the community.  She highlighted many projects funded over the years.  Ms. Wilder stated there is now 10 miles of walking trails around the community and schools; they are contemplating adding restroom facilities and drinking fountains to the trail.  Ms. Wilder requested approval of the license renewal for Lakeside.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Clarke County Development Corporation, renew the license to operate HGI-Lakeside, LLC as a moored barge, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to HGI-Lakeside, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Mr. Monroe presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Comp Trading, LLC – Marketing Giveaway Items
  • Nagle Signs, Inc. – Major Signage

Commissioner Horbach asked about the signage contract for $750,000.  From this description, it is his understanding that is only for one-half of the sign.  Mr. Monroe advised the sign is being redone in two phases; this contract is for the south-facing side of the sign. 

Hearing no additional comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the contract as presented.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission/Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC (SIRRC/CBC): Rob Higgins, General Manager, introduced Gary Hoyer and Justin Pieper, Chief Executive Officer of Great River Entertainment, LLC and Vice Chair of SIRRC respectively. Mr. Higgins advised CBC is open from 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM seven days a week due to staffing issues.  He stated the pit is divided in half with the feature bar in the middle.  They moved some games around and staff one pit at opening and the other is opened at 3:00 PM.  He stated the various hotels located on property are doing well.  Mr. Higgins stated the Edgewater Grill is not open, nor do they intend to open it; however, they are in the planning and design stages for a different venue.  There are four other eating venues open on the property, and plan to renovate the Boogaloo Restaurant.  CBC is currently in the process of designing a new court project on the back side of the Fun City Resort hotel, which was recently upgraded at a cost of $3 million.  A new pool for the resort will back up to the courts, and they are adding a Ninja course.  Mr. Higgins also hopes to replace the casino carpeting.  They are also in the process of taking bids to upgrade the Event Center audio and video. 

Mr. Pieper stated SIRRC has a very transparent and open relationship with CBC.  He noted the SIRRC Board is made up of representatives from Burlington, Ft. Madison and Keokuk, with each community determining how the funds they receive are distributed.  In 2021, the theme was recreation amenities.  Burlington used their funds to help with courts at the turf complex for youth sports; Fort Madison used their funds to help expand the amenities at the Tri-State Rodeo Arena complex and the marina redevelopment.  Keokuk funded enhancements at the aquatic center.  Mr. Pieper requested approval of the license renewal.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Olsen moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission, renew the license to operate Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC, and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Mr. Higgins presented the Fourth Amendment to the Second Amended and Substituted Commercial Lease between Huckleberry Holdings, LLC and Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC.  Mr. Hoyer stated Great River Entertainment (GRE) is the overlying parent company for CBC.  Huckleberry Holdings is another wholly owned subsidiary that owns the real estate.  When the sportsbook was added, a Third Amendment to the Lease was done to increase the size of the casino facility, which increased the rent.  The facility continued to pay rent, but recently realized they had not paid the increased rent.  Rather than redoing rent payments, the parties agreed to the fourth amendment which calls for the increased rent to commence January 1, 2022, and waives the previous unpaid amount.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the Fourth Amendment to the Second Amended and Substituted Commercial Lease as presented by CBC.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation/Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C. (GGCGC/WRJ): Travis Dvorak, General Manager introduced Craig Marquardt, Vice President of GGCGC.  Mr. Dvorak advised 2021 was a record year.  He stated cap ex for this year will be around $800,000; there will be no major remodels as the facility is less than six years old.  There has been some remodeling in the café and sports bar, and they added another building for storage.  The focus this year will be on various equipment.  Mr. Dvorak advised there will more than likely be some remodeling projects in 2023-2024.  .  The facility is open 10:00 AM to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM Friday and Saturday.  He advised there is no customer demand to open earlier.  Mr. Dvorak stated the food and beverage area is a struggle for them.  The restaurant was open every day pre-Covid, but is now open Thursday-Sunday.  The café supplements the restaurant on Wednesday and Thursday; there is no food outlet open on Monday and Tuesday. Mr. Dvorak advised the entertainment area is starting to return; there are two concerts scheduled for this month, and they are looking at acts for this summer and fall.  Mr. Dvorak stated current staffing levels remain below pre-Covid levels.  They currently have approximately 135 employees and are seeing a gradual increase.  Over the past year, WRJ has instituted several wage adjustments and given multiple bonuses to reward current employees and entice new employees.  They continue to make wage adjustments to stay competitive.  Mr. Dvorak advised staffing shortages are an area-wide issue, not just at WRJ.  He stated WRJ has adopted a three tier approach to recruiting employees: sign on and referral bonuses; hiring an outside Recruitment and Marketing firm; and actively working with local businesses and Greene County Development Corporation on a long term program to increase population and employment in the area.  This last approach could take 5-10 years to reach full fruition.

Mr. Marquardt noted in 2013 Greene County passed the initial gaming referendum by 75%; in 2021, the second referendum passed with an 88.76% positive vote.  He stated GGCGC will be hosting its 7th Annual Award Banquet in April, and will award approximately $1.7 million in grants, which includes $53,700 to each of the six contiguous counties around Greene County.  Including this year’s funds, each of those counties will have received over $277,000 or $1.65 million over the past seven cycles.  Major grants include $4.5 million to Greene County schools to assist in the construction of a state-of-the-art auditorium and gymnasium to help with the school bond issue; $500,000 toward the construction of an early learning center, which is a non-profit child care center; $200,000 toward the new Greene County animal shelter; $100,000 to the Greene County medical center for a remodeling project.  He stated they just received notice that the ambulance they helped fund last year will arrive today.  Mr. Marquardt stated the minimum grant request for GGCGC is $35,000; grants less than that are submitted to the Greene County Community Foundation.  At the end of the year, GGCGC made special grants, or give back awards, to local non-profit groups that have an impact on the entire county.  Last year, GGCGC gave $5,000 to the local VFW for building repairs; Adopt-A-Family for Christmas gifts and food, The Ark – a local food pantry; and the Greene County 4-H Foundation.  Mr. Marquardt stated GGCGC has a positive working relationship with WRJ and Wild Rose Entertainment.  He requested approval of the license renewal.

Commissioner Campbell asked for clarification on the hours of operation.  Mr. Dvorak stated the facility closes at midnight during the week, and 2:00 AM on Friday and Saturday.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, renew the license to operate Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C. as a gambling structure, and renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Wild Rose Jefferson, L.L.C.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Mr. Dvorak presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Performance Food Group, Inc. – Food Distributor
  • Wellmark – Employee Health Insurance Premium

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contracts as submitted by WRJ.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Clinton County Development Association/Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C. (CCDA/WRC): Mr. Gilson and Leah Garcia, Assistant General Manager were present to address the license renewal.  Mr. Gilson read a letter from Les Shields, President of CCDA, as a representative could not be in attendance.  In the letter, Mr. Shields stated 2021 was a challenging year for the CCDA as the lingering effects of the pandemic cast a caution across many sectors of the community.  He noted that as the economy recovered, WRC performed above expectations for much of the year, which allowed CCDA to hold two grant cycles and award over $1 million for projects, plus $25,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors across Clinton County.  Mr. Shields noted CCDA had committed $500,000 to MercyOne Clinton for the addition of a cancer treatment linear accelerator payable over five years; however, due to careful stewardship of funds during the pandemic, CCDA was able to pay off the commitment in December 2021.  Mr. Shields stated CCDA has been made aware of a major industrial project to be built in Clinton, which should become public in a matter of days.  He indicated this would be the largest private sector investment and construction project in the State of Iowa for the last several decades.  The project will involve some significant investment in public infrastructure.  He stated that while it appears CCDA has a large cash reserve, as a grant-making organization, they stand ready to be a significant partner in bringing this proposed project to fruition. Mr. Shields stated CCDA has a great working relationship with WRC and would like to continue the relationship in the future.  He thanked the Commission for their work in keeping casino-style gaming a clean and honest entertainment option for Iowa residents and visitors to the state.  He requested approval of the license renewal for CCDA.

Ms. Garcia stated WRC has slightly altered their hours of operation; they are open 8:00 AM to midnight Monday through Thursday, and 8:00 AM to 3:00 AM on Friday and Saturday. She stated WRC has increased wages twice and provided bonuses.  The valet and buffet are not open due to staffing.  Coaches Corner Sports Bar is being remodeled.  Ms. Garcia stated there are nine long-term employees; two have been employed at WRC for 30 years.  They are working on the warehouse that will be located on property and on the parking lot.  Ms. Garcia requested approval of the license renewal.

Commissioner Campbell noted CCDA distributions in 2021 were at 2.2%, which is below the statutory requirement of 3%.  He requested that CCDA be made aware of the Commission’s concerns.  Mr. Gilson advised he would be traveling to Clinton following the meeting, and would pass on the message.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Clinton County Development Association, renew the license to operate Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C. as a gambling structure, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C., and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Ms. Garcia presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • 7G Distributing LLC – Beer Distributor
  • Carpetland – Carpeting Hotel Rooms; Hotel Hallway, and Promenade
  • Owen Meyer Construction – Concrete Repairs to the Parking Lot
  • Pigott – Furniture for Coaches Corner Remodel
  • Wellmark – Employee Health Insurance Premiums

Commissioner Horbach thanked Ms. Garcia for the pictures of the remodeling project in the Coaches Corner Bar. 

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the contracts as submitted by WRC.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation/Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C. (PACGDC/WRE): Steve Cody, General Manager, advised hours of operation have been adjusted;  WRE is open from 10:00 AM to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 AM to 2:00 AM Friday and Saturday.  He advised the hotel is completely open; Coaches Corner is open except for Tuesday and Wednesday due to staffing issues; and the sportsbook is up in the air.  The valet is operated by retired individuals; they currently provide a shuttle service.  The valet manager is in discussion with those individuals to determine if they are ready to come back to full valet service.  With regard to cap ex, Mr. Cody stated WRE is in the process of completing some larger projects started last year such as resurfacing the parking lot and a new parking area closer to the building.  They will be starting an HVAC project in the spring that will continue through the fall.  WRE is also looking at replacing the carpet, and some other projects by the end of the year. 

Mr. Cody introduced Marilyn Noonan, a PACGDC board member.  Ms. Noonan stated during Covid, the Board decided to do mini-grants up to $5,000 in order to award more grants and have a bigger impact on the community.  They awarded 43 mini-grants to organizations in the eight small communities within the county.  Ms. Noonan thanked Mr. Cody for attending the Board’s monthly meetings to provide an update on casino operations, which makes their job easier.  She advised the Board took a county-wide tour to the communities to view the various projects funded.  She gave a brief description of some of the grants awarded, and noted that since 2006, PACGDC has awarded $1.9 million to fire departments.  Each school received $200,000 last year, plus an additional $50,000.  Ms. Noonan stated they have awarded nearly $24 million since 2006.  The annual banquet is on March 4th, and they will be distributing $1,000,872.  Ms. Noonan requested approval of the license renewal.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation, renew the license to operate Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C. as a gambling structure, and renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Wild Rose Emmetsburg, L.L.C.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Mr. Cody presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • Wellmark – Employee Health Insurance Premiums
  • Performance Food Service – Food Service for All Venues

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Olsen moved to approve the contracts as submitted by WRE.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation/Casino Queen Marquette, Inc. (UMGC/CQM): Sean Bateman, General Manager, advised the facility spent between $400,000 and $500,000 in cap ex last year, which was much better than the last two years.  They installed ticketing kiosks, updated the valet floor that connects to the buffet, and some HVAC system work.  He noted the vessel is 27-years old, which requires more maintenance and upkeep.  They upgraded the slot product on the casino floor and installed a new slot system. Mr. Bateman advised the buffet has been open since January 2021, and is open Wednesday through Sunday.  The buffet mostly attracts local residents.  The casino is open 9:00 AM to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and 9:00 AM to 2:00 AM Friday and Saturday.  He indicated there is not a lot of traffic after hours.  With regard to staffing, Mr. Bateman stated there is not a pool of applicants to pull from, noting they are lucky to get two applications per week.  They have instituted wages increases, provided bonuses through the year, and are holding a job fair this month.  They also offer sign on bonuses.  He expressed appreciation for the staff they do have.

Mr. Bateman introduced Randy Lenth, a UMGC board member.  Mr. Lenth advised UMGC distributed approximately $700,000 in grants last fall, which sounds small compared amounts distributed by some of the other qualified sponsoring organizations.  He stated the funds they provide to the non-profit organizations is an impetus to do better things for their communities.  Mr. Lenth stated they spend time looking for partners, especially in the tourism area; noting the four county area in northeast Iowa is growing as a tourism area. Mr. Lenth requested approval of the license renewal.

Commissioner Horbach asked about the new boat.  Mr. Bateman advised the new boat has been delayed due to construction and supply chain issues.  He estimated the new vessel could be two years out, but noted there is a desire to do something different with the current vessel.  He stated the corporate team is coming to the property in April.  Commissioner Horbach stated he was anticipating, and is looking forward to a refresh of the property. He stated he thoroughly enjoyed the Commission’s visit to the area last fall.  Mr. Bateman stated he feels something new will attract more visitors to the property and increase revenue.

Hearing no further comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Olsen moved to renew the license to conduct gambling games to Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation, renew the license to operate Casino Queen Marquette, Inc. as an excursion boat that will not cruise, renew the license to conduct sports wagering to Casino Queen Marquette, Inc., and approve the facility’s revised security plan included in the application.  Commissioner Burkhart seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

IOWA GREYHOUND ASSOCIATION D/B/A IOWA GREYHOUND PARK (IGA/IGP):
Request for Approval of the 45-Day Plan for the 2022 Meet: Brian Carpenter, General Manager, advised this would be the 38th and final season of live racing in Dubuque; however, this season will be shortened.  He noted 2021 was a very good year.  In 2020, total handle was $16 million, and in 2021, total handle was between $22 million and $23 million.  He stated handle has been up every year for the last six years.  Last year’s handle was close to the handle from the early 1990’s.  Mr. Carpenter stated he started working at the greyhound park when he was 16, and is proud of live greyhound racing in Iowa.

Commissioner Campbell asked Mr. Ohorilko about the purse payments.  Mr. Ohorilko stated the staff’s recommendation regarding purse payments, with this being the last year, is to modify them so that drug testing results are received prior to the purse payments being distributed.  Staff felt this change was important for this season.  Mr. Ohorilko stated he would work with Mr. Carpenter on this issue.  He recommended the purse payments be held until the drug testing results are received.  He stated the Des Moines office will work with the lab to ensure they make the test results a priority so the purse payments can be made.

Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the season approvals submitted with the following conditions:

  • The immediate written notification of any change in racing official positions.
  • The completion of necessary IRGC licensing and DCI background checks of racing officials.
  • The export contracts will continue to have the review and approval by IRGC staff to insure regulatory compliance.
  • Review and testing of the SportView Technologies software upgrade submitted to IRGC racing stewards prior to the beginning of racing.
  • Purse payments shall not be made until drug testing results are received from the Commission testing lab.

Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Mr. Carpenter presented a contract with United Healthcare for the renewal of health insurance for full-time employees.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Burkhart moved to approve the contract as submitted by IGA/IGP.  Commissioner Campbell seconded the motion, which carried unanimously. 

Commissioner Olsen stated he felt the Commission needed to put some pressure on the testing lab to return the test results as fast as possible to create the least amount of problems possible.

CONTRACT APPROVALS       (OSV – OUT OF STATE VENDOR; RP – RELATED PARTY):
Iowa West Racing Association d/b/a Horseshoe Casino Council Bluffs (IWRA/Horseshoe Casino):  Thomas Roberts, General Manager, presented a contract with Johnson Controls for fire protection.

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Horbach moved to approve the contract as submitted by IWRA/Horseshoe Casino.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, Inc. (PMRC): Ann Atkin, Sr. Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, presented the following contracts for Commission approval:

  • ADP (Automatic Data Processing) – Payroll and Human Resources Software
  • Carlson Group – Consulting Services
  • Dell Marketing – Computer Equipment
  • Mid Country Machinery – Track Equipment

Hearing no comments or questions, Chair Andres requested a motion.  Commissioner Campbell moved to approve the contracts as submitted by PMRC.  Commissioner Olsen seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.

PUBLIC COMMENT: Mr. Dixon stated the DRA wanted to publicly acknowledge Mr. Carpenter and the Iowa Greyhound Association for everything they have done for Q Casino, and more specifically, for the community of Dubuque, which was on its last legs when live greyhound racing came to the community.  He stated DRA is going to celebrate the last season; there will be a party on April 16th to usher live greyhound racing out in style.

Mr. Ohorilko stated when the greyhound cessation legislation passed approximately 8 years ago, the IGA was fortunate to have Mr. Carpenter stay on board to lead the group, address concerns with animal rights and keep the doors open.  He stated Mr. Carpenter has done a good job in keeping the animals safe and keeping the track fully staffed during the meets.

ADMINISTRATIVE BUSINESSChair Andres called on Mr. Ohorilko to address the following:
Review of Year-to-Date Economic Impact Reports: These reports are prepared by the industry, and is unaudited but feels they are a fair representation of the overall economic impact of the casino industry.  He noted information is provided for the amount of payroll dollars; equipment, supplies and services; statutorily required payments; and charitable contributions.  In 2021, the overall amount for the State of Iowa was $1.143 billion.  The amount spent with Iowa vendors was $1.048 billion.  When items that have to be purchased from out-of-state vendors are taken out of the equation, almost 97% stayed within the state.

Horse Racing Promotion Fund: Mr. Ohorilko advised there is $2,212.24 available in the Horse Racing Promotion Fund.  Those parties that are eligible can apply to the IRGC Des Moines office by 3:30 PM on March 31st.  Funds will be distributed at the April Commission meeting. 

Notice of Purse Amounts Pursuant to Iowa  Code § 99F.6(4)a(3): Mr. Ohorilko stated purse amounts are based on 11% of the first $200 million of gross receipts at PMRC, 6% of the remainder of gross receipts, 50% of the Advance Deposit Wagering receipts, and 4% of the sports wagering receipts.  For 2022, the purse amounts will be:

  • Thoroughbreds - $17,737,869
  • Quarter Horses - $3,558,881
  • Harness Racing - $2,041,981 (For use at county fairs)

Hearing no further business to come before the Commission, Chair Andres requested a motion to adjourn.  Commissioner Campbell so moved.  Commissioner Horbach seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.