Tama county pushes for new casino - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tama county pushes for new casino

TAMA (KWWL)-- Governor Chet Culver has recommended the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission move forward on four counties seeking gaming licenses.

The commission is meeting with Tama county, Fort Doge, Ottumwa, and Lyon County on the possibility of adding four new casinos in the state.

On Wednesday, the commission got a first-hand look at the potential site in Tama County.

If the commission votes yes, it would be the second casino in the county.

Tama mayor Chris Bearden says many communities in the county are struggling.

"The rest of them are having a very hard time meeting their budgets, they keep getting cuts, and this is going to be a great economic boost for them," Bearden said.

The proposed Prairie Hills Resort includes a full casino, an 80-room hotel, a restaurant, and a motor sports complex, among other things.

Proponents say it will help the area, which is struggling to stay afloat.

"We think this is going to generate several hundred new jobs and obviously tremendous tax revenue for the state, for the city, and for the community that we think will be beneficial," John Pavone said of Signature Management, the company that would operate the $40 million gaming complex.

Members of the Meskwaki tribe worry the new casino will take away business from the current Meskwaki casino just handful of miles away.

In a statement, tribal leaders argue they are competing for a market that is shrinking and expressed concern that the Iowa market has reached its saturation point.  Tribal leaders worry about the ability of their casino to stay afloat.

Supporters believe the two casinos will work well together, making Tama a gaming destination for people from all over the state.

"I don't think they're going to compete, I think they're going to compliment each other because of their location together and if a gambler drops out of one sight he can visit the other one while he's here," Ted Hall said, a resident of Tama for 40 years.

The gaming commission will vote on the licenses May 13th.


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