Davenport’s Casino Plan On Hold

Posted on: 8:31 pm, March 4, 2013, by , updated on: 10:14pm, March 4, 2013

Davenport’s casino plan is facing a major setback.

City leaders in support of the plan want to buy Rhythm City Casino, then build a land-based casino without it being privately-owned. That way, more money goes back to the community rather than the shareholders.

But there’s been a lot of concern over the city’s involvement in the casino business and one group says it’s listening.

“I think there’s been enough talk about other operators that might be out there,” says Chairman of the Riverboat Development Authority, Gary Mohr. “It’s time to find out.”

On Monday, March 4th, 2013, the Riverboat Development Authority – or RDA, which holds Davenport’s gaming license – decided to see if there is a better way to maximize that license… in a way that doesn’t directly involve the city.

“We’re just putting that process on hold for the time being while we go out and see if there are other operators who have an interest,” says Mohr. “We want to talk with them. We’ll determine whether or not there’s genuine interest. If there’s not genuine interest, we may very well be right back to where we are working with the city, but before we continue that discussion, we want to see if there are other operators out there.”

The city’s proposal could double the RDA’s revenue, which is used to give grants out to organizations and charities in the Quad City area. But it involves taking a risk and Mohr says the RDA owes it to the community to find out what else is out there before they make a decision.

“If we at the RDA do anything well, I think we listen,” says Mohr.

Also listening in during Monday’s meeting was the Chairwoman of the Davenport Community Improvement Corporation, which is the non-profit group created by the city which would operate the casino if the RDA signed an agreement with them.

“I think the RDA is taking the right step, bringing some sanity to the process right now,” Chairwoman Kelli Grubbs told WQAD. “I think this is an important thing for them to do and I think it will result in a better outcome for the community as a whole.”

Davenport’s city administrator, Craig Malin, was also at tonight’s RDA meeting. He had no comment for News 8, but is on the agenda to give an update to city council on Wednesday, March 6th, 2013 at 5:30p.m.

The RDA’s attorney, Bob Gallagher, plans to reach out to the Isle of Capri Corporation – which owns Rhythm City Casino – as early as Tuesday, March 5th, 2013 to ask for their help in finding another operator. Gallagher says leaders with the Isle of Capri Corporation have volunteered to put together a group from their headquarters in St. Louis and come to Davenport to discuss their options.

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