Davenport Begins Discussions On Proposed Casino Plan

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Less than 24 hours after Davenport's City Council voted in favor of the Mayor signing a "term sheet" detailing the proposed $46 million purchase of Rhythm City Casino, city leaders are wasting no time discussing the idea with the Riverboat Development Authority.

The RDA is the local non-profit gaming license holder. Every year, it receives a portion of profits from Rhythm City Casino, which the RDA then grants to organizations and projects throughout the Quad Cities.

"If you look here in Davenport, it's almost impossible to see anything that we haven't been involved with," says Mary Ellen Chamberlin, President of RDA.

Under the current model, most of Rhythm City Casino's adjusted gross revenue goes to the State Treasury and the casino's shareholders. The RDA gets around 4%, which has turned into more than $53 million for around 450 organizations and projects in the area since 1991.

However, some like Alderman Jeff Justin, say it could be a lot more.

"I don't think it's working and I don't think anybody is really happy with it and that's okay," says Alderman Justin. "We can continue to do that and go down that route, but I think working together we can do something that's a little bit better."

Under the city's proposed buyout plan, the city would buy Rhythm City Casino with city-issued bonds, then build its own land-based casino. The shareholders would be eliminated so that more money stays in the Quad Cities.

"I think we can make decisions very differently than if you were a for-profit company who had to show a profit for stockholders," says Chamberlin. "We want to show something that is best for this community."

Both city leaders and the RDA agree there are still a lot of concerns to address and details to refine in a short period of time. The two groups are hoping to present the plan to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission at their next meeting, which is November 15th in Johnston, Iowa.

"We're not copying someone else's model," says Chamberlin. "We're looking at creating a model which will have to be approved by the Racing and Gaming Commission. The whole model will have to be approved."

"I think we both have a common goal and that's to maximize the license they [the RDA] hold and obviously increase revenue for non-profits and to taxpayers of Davenport so I think if we focus on that goal then we'll be fine," says Alderman Justin.

For much more information on the city's plan, click here.

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