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Trio of Meetings on Davenport Casino Proposal

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Wednesday featured three crucial meetings on Davenport's casino project. The city is investigating a $51 million plan to buy Rhythm City Casino and replace it with a land-based operation.

The Riverboat Development Authority spent two hours analyzing the best deal for Davenport. That's as Davenport aldermen prepared to get down to business Wednesday evening.

It sounds like a good bet to multiply the money for local charities. But as the RDA works on a potential deal, it's like building a circle. Each aspect must come together to make it complete.

"We all have a certain role to play," said Gary Mohr, RDA chairman. "It's very important that we serve our own constituents, but we also understand what's best for this community. That's the bottom line."

Davenport is set to scrutinize a deal for the Interstate 80-280 corridor. Proposed by a Minnesota-based group and local developers, it stands to be the best money maker according to the city's consultant.

Plans for a 150-room hotel and casino, coupled with a smaller boutique casino downtown, it could help Davenport become tops in the gaming market.

"Each of these components is being done by a different group of people," said RDA President Mary Ellen Chamberlin. "And so you have to wait for this group, wait for that group."

Replacing the outdated Rhythm City Casino will take more time and money. Everything must still get the blessing of Iowa's Racing and Gaming Commission. It's why decision-makers are being understandably cautious.

Right now, not everybody is on board. RDA member Don Decker says the proposal is "geared up to be a gigantic financial disaster."

For now, meetings continue as Davenport works to come up with the best deal.

"The best we can do is ask the questions, get the answers, form opinions, come to conclusions and move on," Mohr said.

It's like a spin on the slot machine that's yet to pay its big jackpot.