How Does A City Owned Casino Work? Davenport leaders find out. - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

How Does A City Owned Casino Work? Davenport leaders find out.


On Tuesday Davenport City leaders went on a tour of 2 Dubuque Casinos. They walked through the city owned Mystique Casino and the privately owned Diamond Jo Casino. Davenport council members say touring the casinos reinforced their belief that buying Rhythm City for $46-million is a safe bet.

"It's been a terrific blessing for our community," says Lori Thielen, Chair of the Dubuque Racing Association.

For the city of Dubuque, Mystique Casino has dealt them a winning hand.

"It benefits the community, the tax payers, the not for profits and those organizations serving the most disadvantaged people," adds Dubuque City Manager Mike Van Milligan.

By the end of 2010, the casino had a more than $621-million dollar impact on the city.

"Some projects probably wouldn't have happened without that money," adds Van Milligan, "Some would have happened with another type of financing source."

In addition to recreational facilities, streets and developments being built, the casino has kept property taxes down.

"The City of Dubuque has a property tax rate of about $11 per $1000, it's the second lowest property tax rate," says Van Milligan.

However, where does the money come from? In Dubuque the city receives taxes from the casino, a percentage of gaming profits from a lease payment and after all the bills have been paid the city and non-profit board split the profits.

"Those are the 3 sources of revenue we get from the Mystique Casino," says Van Milligan.

Running a casino does come at a cost. The city moved from racing facility to a casino in 2004. Recently, Mystique Casino underwent a $13.5-million renovation and around $2-$3 million is spent every year on upgrades.

"We make sure that our products to do not get old or stale and do not fall out of favor with our customers," says Jesus Aviles, President and CEO of the Dubuque Racing Association, "We look every year at our gaming equipment."

When asked if the city would ever want to get out of gaming?

"We don't have an exit strategy, because we don't want to get out of it," adds Van Milligan.

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