Davenport Casino: The Debate Over An Interstate or A Downtown Lo - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Davenport Casino: The Debate Over An Interstate or A Downtown Location

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Davenport is narrowing down its decision for a casino developer. The Radisson downtown casino proposal has been eliminated, leaving just two developers. One is a downtown casino and the other an interstate casino. The million dollar question is which one the city will choose.

The interstate versus downtown debate has been going on since the city announced plans to buy Rhythm City Casino. The city's gaming consultant says an interstate casino is a better bet and it all comes down to money.

Davenport city leaders' wants the success Jumer's in Rock Island has experienced since it moved off the river. For instance, in 2007 while Jumer's was still a river boat it was the smallest casino with about 18% of the gaming market. 5-years later the casino is number one with 41% of the gaming market. Jumer's also increased the size of the Quad Cities gaming market by 10%.

"I'm anticipating a highway location to cause another 10% in growth revenue in the Quad City casino market," says Gary Buettner, Davenport's Gaming Consultant.

Building a city owned casino at the interchange of Interstate 80 and I-280 is expected to bring Davenport big bucks.

"You have the opportunity to have a highway on the most desirable highway available to most, I-80," adds Buettner.

According to the consultant, returns on an interstate casino, built by Ingenus, are substantially higher than a downtown casino.

"I would estimate downtown casino growth at about 3% to 5%," adds Buettner, "It's roughly $6-million to $10-million."

Building an interstate casino has a higher price tag. In addition to the $46-million to buy Rhythm City, an interstate facility will cost $5-million more. The consultant says it is worth the risk, because an interstate casino and hotel could expand, and create more gaming revenue.

"The traffic that goes by that prospective property is so attractive to a casino industry executive, such as me," adds Buettner.

Restoration St. Louis would like to build a casino in the middle of the Parker-Putnam Towers. The building is downtown between Brady Street and Main Street, and 2nd Avenue and 3rd Avenue. The location is land locked and could only expand up.

"A multi-floor facility is not as productive as single floor facility," says Buettner, "Operationally it's a lot tougher."

Buettner also told council since the Ingenus plan includes splitting the license, a smaller; boutique style casino will be built next to the river center.

"It would serve as an extra bonus to the city by allowing those folks that do gamble downtown, to stay downtown," adds Buettner.

City council would like to make a final decision by next week. The RDA also has to approve the development. The board is considering meeting next week to either discuss or vote on a development proposal. However, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will have the final say.

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