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Casino developers pitch plans for Davenport

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Three potential developers pitched their plans for a community-owned, land based casino in Davenport Monday. The day-long interview process put each team on the hot seat for nearly two hours, as they gave presentations and answered questions from both the public and a 17 member panel of city officials and local business leaders.

Ingenus, a development firm out of Minnesota, was the first to take the floor. Their plan focuses on splitting the city's gaming license to build at two locations -- an interstate casino at the intersection of I-80 and I-280, as well as a smaller "boutique" casino downtown. The team believes their plan will help revitalize downtown Davenport while maximizing revenue with a large, highway location.

"We believe in downtown, we believe that there are elements that belong down there, and the entertainment that can happen. But you can’t maximize gaming revenue downtown alone," said Ingenus president Ken Mimmack.

“We really need to be in a location that has high traffic, easy access, and expandability," he added.

It's not a belief held by the second firm to present, Restoration St. Louis. The group behind the Hotel Blackhawk plans to focus all of its efforts on a downtown location, renovating two historic buildings into a casino with a hotel, restaurant, sports bar, movie theatre, and other amenities. The team often pointed to its track record of delivering on promises in the Quad Cities, as well as the importance of taking advantage of the local market.

“All the RIGC studies themselves prove that the maximum revenue is going to come from a downtown location that’s built right. We believe we can build it right and operate it properly,” said Restoration St. Louis' Amrit Gill.

Finally, another developer that is no stranger to Davenport made their presentation. Atrium Holdings, the team behind the Radisson Hotel, plans to expand the current hotel to include a casino as well. The firm believes the simplicity of their proposal is what makes it the best choice.

“It’s an easy conversion, it’s a risk-free conversion because of the expense that we’re willing to take on, and the speed to market. We think we can get the casino open in six to nine months,” said Atrium's Daniel Abernethy.

The panel did not choose a winner or make any decision based on Monday's interviews. The process, though, continues Tuesday, as city leaders take a trip to Dubuque, Iowa, to see how community-owned gaming has worked for that community.

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