If you haven't already, check out my exclusive story on what Ho-Chunk Inc. and its CEO Lance Morgan has in mind for the former Atokad horse track, "$40 million casino envisioned for South Sioux City."
Since Nebraska law currently prohibits casino gambling, Morgan acknowledges the project still has some legal hoops to jump through. But many gaming observers anticipate the Cornhusker state will finally permit slot machines, if not full-fledged casinos, rather than continue to lose millions of dollars to casinos camped on the state's border, most notably in the Omaha/Council Bluffs area.
"... there is no way Nebraska and Omaha are going to let $500 million a year go across that river because they don’t want to have casinos in their backyard," West Des Moines developer Gary Kirke told the Des Moines Register Wednesday. "It’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life."
In a Q&A with the Register, Kirke described central Iowa as the "safest place" to put another casino in the state.
"If voters in Warren County approve the proposal at a referendum (May 7), and if the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission grants the necessary state license, Kirke is ready to build a casino, hotel, convention center and bowling alley in Norwalk, a suburb just south of Des Moines," the Register reports. "It would complete a nine-year ordeal he describes as a “rocky road” to build a large-scale gambling destination in the Des Moines metropolitan area."
Kirke is a partner in two other Iowa casinos, the Wild Rose in Emmetsburg and Clinton.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on April 18 awarded a land casino license to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, which will replace the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino. But the state regulatory body has shown no immediate interest in awarding additional licenses.