SIOUX CITY | The City Council on Monday approved changing municipal code to allow a gaming facility in the downtown area. The agreement creates the zoning framework for creating the city’s first land-based casino.
The motion, approved unanimously, creates a 462-acre Casino Overlay District from the Missouri River to Eighth Street and Floyd Boulevard to Wesley Parkway. Under the rules, any new casino in Sioux City would have to be built within the zone and meet certain guidelines on parking, building design and various other factors.
The motion also mandates that a venue be attached to the skywalk overhead walkways and not result in the demolition of a historic building.
Land casinos were previously not allowed under city code.
City officials are looking to create a downtown cultural and entertainment hub. Missouri River Historic Development, the nonprofit organization that holds the state gaming license in Woodbury County, is accepting proposals to construct a land-based gambling venue, replacing the Argosy-Sioux City riverboat on the Missouri River.
The council on Monday did not act on a suggestion by Mayor Bob Scott to expand the Casino Overlay District outside the immediate downtown area, to as far west as Hamilton Boulevard. Scott said he did not want to limit casino operators' options.
Scott, who was the only person to talk about the plan Monday, asked city staff to review his proposal and, if they agree, to take the expanded boundaries back to the Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration. The commission then would vote on the matter and refer the issue back to the council.
The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the Casino Overlay District on July 10. The new regulations also received two previous City Council approvals this summer.
After the meeting, the other four council members said they agreed with Scott on the need to expand the district’s boundaries. They pointed out that should a gaming operator want to build outside that area, however, they would consider amending the district’s boundaries even further.
The MRHD board is scheduled to meet Monday to talk about the casino bid.
MRHD for months has been locked in a contract dispute with the Argosy’s owner, Penn National Gaming Co. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission recently put Woodbury County's gaming license up for grabs after months of failed talks between the two groups. The commission last month set a Nov. 1 deadline to receive applications for a casino operation in Woodbury County.
Officials for Ho-Chunk Inc., the development arm of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, in early August announced it is interested in developing a downtown Sioux City casino.
Iowa legalized riverboat gambling in 1989 and land-based casinos in 2007, but Sioux City zoning codes were never updated.