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items tagged with Rhythm City Casino

The Shrinking Gambling Pie: Jumer’s Boosted the Local Casino Market – but It Can’t Hide the Quad Cities’ Decade of Decline
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: News/Features

Category: Feature Stories

2014-08-21 11:28:20

It’s long been an article of faith with me that the seemingly perpetual growth in the number of state-sponsored gambling outlets is poor public policy. Common sense says that the amount of money people will spend on these games has a ceiling – one that we’ve almost certainly reached by now.

If that’s correct, then further expansion of legalized gambling is a fool’s errand, as the money generated by it won’t increase meaningfully. Once gambling has reached a saturation point in a region, revenues will just get shifted from gaming company to gaming company and state to state and local government to local government.

But like all articles of faith, I had no proof for my hypothesis. So I decided to test it, and the Quad Cities market seemed like an excellent laboratory.

What is now the Isle of Capri casino in Bettendorf opened in April 1995 – making us a three-casino community. (I’ll refer to the casinos by their present names throughout this article.) We now have almost two decades of gaming information with the three-casino marketplace, and a handful of variables allow us to see what happened here when this happened there: the December 2008 move of Jumer’s from downtown Rock Island to Interstate 280; the recession that hit in 2007-8; new casino competitors in eastern Iowa in 2006 and 2007; and the 2012 introduction of video-gambling machines in Illinois outside of casinos.

What I found didn’t exactly support my hypothesis of a Quad Cities gambling pie with a fixed size. Rather, the data suggest there are ways to add new customers to the local gambling market – but that the pie has nonetheless been shrinking for a decade.


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Why Rodney Blackwell Thinks He Has a Play in the Davenport Casino Game
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Commentary/Politics

Category: Guest Commentaries

2013-09-17 22:28:55

Local developer Rodney Blackwell clearly got the Davenport City Council’s attention with a $250-million casino-development proposal on September 7. But from the outset it didn’t appear there was any path forward for it.

The Isle of Capri (IOC) has, through October 15, an exclusive negotiating agreement with Dan Kehl’s Scott County Casino company to sell its Rhythm City property. And, as Blackwell readily admits, even if it didn’t, the Isle wouldn’t want to negotiate with him and his partner, the Canadian company Clairvest Group.

So the city council’s 9-1 vote on September 11 to table a development agreement with Kehl appeared to be little more than a delay. Kehl has said he’ll complete the sale by the October 15 deadline. And the Riverboat Development Authority (RDA) – which holds the Rhythm City gaming license – on September 16 approved an operating agreement with Kehl’s company. (All these agreements are steps toward actually building the casino, and beyond them is approval from the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.)

The message of Kehl’s comments and the RDA’s action is that the train has left the station, and Blackwell isn’t on it. As RDA Chair Gary Mohr told the Quad-City Times: “The RDA will keep its commitments. I don’t know if people don’t understand it or they just don’t like it.”

But Blackwell thinks he has a play. He said in an interview last week that he believes the city council can kill the Kehl deal, and that it further has the leverage to force the Isle of Capri to negotiate with him and Clairvest. Alternatively, the city could use its power to push Kehl to make a larger investment than the $110 million he has pledged to spend on a new casino and hotel complex. (Kehl said the three-phase development will total $200 million.)


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Not Ready for the Rocking Chair: Comedienne Grandma Lee, February 27 & 28 at the Rhythm City Casino
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: News/Features

Category: Comedy

2009-02-18 14:02:44

Grandma LeeAt one point during my recent (and rather terse) phone interview with comedienne Grandma Lee, the performer explains her interest in stand-up by saying, “You gotta do somethin’ you love. I’m 74 years old, but I’m not ready for the rocking chair.”

It would be understandable if you responded to those statements with, “Aw-w-w, how cute!” But with her voice pitched just a tad higher than Bea Arthur’s, and with her Web-site introduction providing a memorable image of the comic with a beer and a don’t-piss-me-off deadpan, this 74-year-old is hardly your everyday, adorable, cookie-baking granny. (On Lee’s MySpace profile, “Drink/Smoke” is followed by “Yes/Yes.”)


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