Isle Bettendorf digs in to build land-based casino

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Isle Bettendorf is making the transition from water to land with a $55-60 million dollar casino complex.

Plans present a project to keep it the largest casino, hotel and convention space in Iowa.

"It's the the beginning of a fabulous journey for us," said Isle President and CEO Virginia McDowell.  "Actually, kind of the final piece in a puzzle."

McDowell donned a hardhat to make a ceremonial scoop on Wednesday.

The year-long project will create about 200 local construction jobs.  Pay will average $23 per hour, plus benefits.

"A project like this is something that's going to keep them at home, working right here in the community and supporting it," said Rory Washburn, executive director of Tri-City Building Trades.

Neighboring Davenport is waiting in the wings to build its new land-based Rhythm City Casino.  The $110-million complex near the intersection of Interstate 80 and Interstate 74 is expected to be shovel-ready soon.

"There's plenty of room for everybody in terms of being able to deliver a good product for customers," McDowell said.

That competition takes riverboat gambling back to its roots.

Debuting in 1991, floating casinos offered fresh and different entertainment.

This new era will begin just in time for gaming's 25th anniversary in the Iowa Quad Cities.

"Today marks a milestone of officially beginning the process of moving our casino off the Mississippi River onto land," said Isle VP and General Manager Nancy Ballenger.

Isle's casino floor will transition from riverboat days to Bettendorf's future.  It could be a real jackpot for the community.

"This is going to be a fantastic catalyst in our downtown and riverfront areas," said Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher.  "We're very thankful to the Isle."

Isle's floating casino will remain open during construction.

If all goes well, they hope to open the new complex in May 2016.


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