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Lyon County hits jackpot in casino grants

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa — Lyon County schools, cities and the county government are cashing in with casino grants.

The Lyon County Riverboat Foundation is the non-profit license holder for the Grand Falls Casino near Larchwood, Iowa.

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“How Iowa law operates is that there needs to be a non-profit attached to that facility,” explained Jeff Gallagher, president of the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation (LCRF). “So, the Riverboat Foundation has been attached to the Grand Falls Casino since the casino opened in 2011. We are completely separate from the casino, but Iowa law states that these non-profit organizations distribute a percentage of the casino’s gaming take however they choose.” 

Monthly gambling wins at Grand Falls have averaged $3.8 million per month in 2013. 

The casino is obligated to shell out between 4.5 and 5 percent of its gaming revenue to the LCRF. 

The agreement states that of the first $20 million of gambling winnings in a year, the foundation receives 4.5 percent. When winnings reach the $20 million mark, the percentage goes up to 4.75 percent; it goes up to 5 percent at $30 million.

The foundation is set up to give half of the money in grants to county government subdivisions and schools, and half in a competitive grant process to non-profit projects.

“We distribute the competitive grant money twice a year.” Gallagher said. “We’ve done many things over the years to improve the community such as providing new fire trucks, emergency equipment and updating community centers to building a swimming pool.” 

Lyon County received $19,000 this quarter, bringing the yearly total to more than $74,500. Since 2011 the county has netted $180,000. 

The grand total given away to the government subdivisions by the foundation so far is more than $2.5 million. Another $2.5 million has been given to non-profit projects in competitive grants. 

Lyon County’s eight cities, schools and the county itself will receive ceremonial “big checks” during the halftime of three high school basketball games in January. The ceremony at Central Lyon will be Jan. 7 during halftime of the girls basketball game versus Sheldon. A George/Little Rock High School ceremony will be on Jan. 10, also at halftime of the girls hoops game against Sibley-Ocheyedan. A Jan. 11 ceremony at West Lyon will be at the halftime of the boys basketball game versus West Sioux. 

“I’ve seen all kinds of things that could have never been done before without this money,” Gallagher said. “We just help fund what Lyon County has been working on for years — we make things go a little faster.”

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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