Isle Bettendorf begins new era of gaming with land-based casino

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BETTENDORF, Iowa - Isle Bettendorf debuted its new $60-million land-based casino on Friday. The short move of 223-feet is making a big difference on its opening day.

When it comes to roulette, winning must run in the Lehman family.

"Yes! We've got it!" exclaimed Sara Lehman, Bettendorf.

This mother-daughter team is celebrating the grand opening with good luck.

"Today is my birthday," said Jenna Pfitzenmaier, Bettendorf.  "So I'm glad we decided to come down and gamble."

As hundreds of folks streamed into the brand new casino, football great and Davenport's own Roger Craig rolled the dice. Others got a chance to meet Vanna White, who also attended the inaugural cruise of the Diamond Lady back in 1991.

Coal Valley's Steve Shadle won a chance to make the very first pull on one of the thousand slot machines inside.

"There's a lot of new machines," he said.  "The best staff in the world right here."

While Isle made a short move off the Mississippi River, this new casino represents a remarkable journey over 25 years. It also marks the end of riverboat gaming in the Quad Cities.

Isle VP and General Manager Nancy Ballenger was there from the start.

"This is such a fabulous day," she said.  "The industry has changed so much.  Now, it's modernized and connected.  We couldn't be happier with our new home."

With more than 500 rooms in both towers, it's now the largest hotel in Iowa. A variety of dining options and access to Waterfront Convention Center make it a complete package.

Isle of Capri winnerOne slot machine made Shirley Nelson really happy minutes after the doors opened.

"I happened to look up at the top," he said.  "When I hit the jackpot for ten grand, I thought, it's real."

The Kewanee man left to wonder about how to enjoy his earnings.

"I'll have to ask my wife," he chuckled.  "She's probably standing behind me."


Justin Burrell, Peoria, paused at the Blackjack table to take it all in.

"I like the vibe," he said.

And the Lehmans just kept celebrating Jenna's birthday.

"Red, red, red! Good job," she concluded.

Isle Bettendorf is starting the next 25 years with lots of fun on the first day.


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