Gambling Regulators Also Waiting For Sale of Davenport's Casino

October  15, 2013

Just like everyone else, state gambling regulators are waiting to find out whether Davenport's casino will be sold. Last week, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission got an update from developer, Dan Kehl (keel), who has an agreement with Isle of Capri to buy the Rhythm City Casino riverboat. That deal was set to expire today.

The commission's administrator, Brian Ohorilko, says Kehl already has an agreement with the Riverboat Development Authority, which holds the casino license. But to obtain permits and other approvals needed to build a casino along Interstate 80, he says Kehl needs an agreement with Davenport, too. "But there are still moving parts. And he has to get the parts working together before he comes before us to ask for approval of that purchase."

The commission has been concerned about the Davenport operation for about four years. That's when Jumer's opened its new casino and hotel along I-280 in Rock Island. Ohorilko says that caused a shift in the market, with a lot of gambling revenue going to Illinois instead of Iowa. "It begs the question whether the Davenport facility has had the capital investment to provide amenities and jobs like the commission has asked other operators in Iowa to do."

The administrator says members of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission still have the same goal: to make sure Davenport's casino is a "first rate facility" in the Quad Cities market. He also says both Kehl and Isle of Capri officials have told the panel an extension of the purchase agreement is possible.

Kehl Development already owns Riverside Casino, near Iowa City.

Also at last week's meeting, the commission hired two companies to conduct a statewide market analysis. The results are due  next spring.