Hundreds of jobs may be at stake as talks are underway between the license holder for the Argosy Riverboat Casino in Sioux City and casino operator Penn Gaming over the operation of a land-based casino.
The non-profit group Missouri River Historical Development holds the license and has been trying to work out an extension on the current 20-year agreement which expires July 7th.
MRHD’s board chairman Mark Monson says they offered Penn a contract extension through March of 2015.
“The rationale from the board’s viewpoint of doing that is to allow us to continue to deal with the issues…and even if we agree today, it’s gonna take two years to get it done. So, it’s a matter of continuing on and getting things to happen,” Monson says.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission told the two sides in March they need to reach a compromise before the commission’s meeting this Thursday.
Without a deal, the casino could be forced to close. Monson says the extension would keep the casino open while they continue negotiations.
“It would be a benefit to Penn at the tune of 50-million (dollars) to extend that to March 2015 and MHRD would get about four-point-five million out of that, as is, no changes,” Monson says. “So, we’re not looking for anything big, we’re looking for what we have to move forward so we can get things done.”
Monson says neither side wants to see the 300 plus jobs at the casino be negatively impacted by the impasse.
As for the new casino, Penn National made an offer it said would be a $100-million investment for a land-based casino in a location that has not yet been identified.
By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ, Sioux City