Alcohol sales brings business to Meskwaki casino - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Alcohol sales brings business to Meskwaki casino

MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT (KWWL) - Alcohol is now on sale at the Meskwaki Casino.  Last spring, tribal leaders passed a controversial plan to sell alcohol at the casino, despite a decades old ban against alcohol on the settlement.  Casino leaders pushed for alcohol sales in order, they say, for the casino to remain competitive.

The newest addition at the casino could only happen with the allowance of alcohol sales.  The Lounge at Meskwaki opened late last month with a full service bar, unique, locally handmade bar tables, a stage, TVs and flat-screen video poker machines.  Casino leaders say allowing alcohol makes the casino more competitive with others in the state especially now that the economy has deteriorated.

"We expected an increase in business. Now, having this kind of helps add to our clientele, our customer base. It offsets some of the downturn that everyone in the state is seeing so we're actually doing fine," said General Manager Richard Darder.

Darder says the casino is adding jobs.  It employs around 1000 people with priority given to tribal members.  He says while alcohol is not served at the bingo hall or in the poker room, having it will add events at the convention center.

"This is recreation, not some place to come in and really, you know. If you're just here to drink, you're probably better off at a local bar than coming here," said Darder.

While it took several tries for the tribe to approve serving alcohol, Darder says there's been no controversy since the vote.

"On the tribal end, I've had no communication negative or positive. It's 'OK, we voted for it. Let's see how things go.' On the public side, it's been all positive.

In addition to the recently opened lounge, the casino plans to add two smaller bars closer to the gaming floor and possibly a nightclub later.

Online Reporter:  Bob Waters


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