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Penn National Gaming and it's non-profit partner, the Greater Siouxland Improvement Association is the only group in the running for a land-based casino in Woodbury County that is vowing to foot the entire bill for one of their two proposed casinos.
One near Salix, Iowa, the other, right off Gordon Drive in downtown Sioux City.
Penn Representative, Carl Sottosonti, says, "We're not asking for one cent of municipal incentives from anybody. Not from the state, not the city, not anyone."
Not the case for the other two operators and their partnering non-profits, though.
Winnebago owned, Ho Chunk, Inc. and Siouxland Strong say they have agreements with the Shakopee Tribe, Dougherty Funding LLC and the city of Sioux City to make up $152 million for their $122 million project. That's the Warrior Casino and Hotel, proposed to be located at the old Warrior Hotel in downtown Sioux City.
The only question the commission had for Ho Chunk was the lack of quote-unquote "due diligence." Which, according to Ho Chunk's CEO, Lance Morgan, simply means tangible, signed paperwork from the involved parties.
Morgan says, "Anytime you have a commitment to borrow $50 million, there's a little bit of paperwork involved and the fact that the license hasn't been awarded yet, means nothing. It's sort of final until it's final."
And just like Ho Chunk has, Sioux City Entertainment and the Missouri River Historical Development has a Tax Increment Financing agreement or TIF with the city of Sioux City. Not to mention a loan with Summit Partners LLC, as well as agreements with Sioux City's, Stoney Creek Inn and various gaming manufacturers.
It all adds up to roughly $138 million for their $100 million Hard Rock-themed casino project, slated to built onto the old Battery Building in downtown Sioux City.
As far as Sioux City Entertainment is concerned, doing business with the city is a great idea.
Representative of Sioux City Entertainment, Bill Warner, says, "We're not only increasing their tax base, we're guaranteeing them $2.1 million a year for 10 years. So to sit down and strike a deal with the developer is something they do in the normal course of business and it's just something as the developer, we should try to do with the city. It creates a much more cooperative working environment."
It's this kind of mind-set and that of Warrior Entertainment, though, that Penn refuses to agree with.
Sottosonti says, "You'll note no discussion of diligence. We didn't mention equipment leases, TIFS, we didn't say that the lawyers have to work on agreements, dot their "i's" and cross their "t's." We're here to tell you we can write the check and we want to do it."
The next Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will be held in Altoona on January 10th. This is when each casino partnership will give the public a broader scope of their proposed projects.