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Update: Gaming commission approves Larchwood casino

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9:35 p.m. Update

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa -- Construction will begin next month on a resort and casino near Larchwood following the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's approval of a casino license application on Thursday.

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The commission unanimously approved the Lyon County casino, noting it wouldn't cut into the business of Iowa's 17 other state-licensed casinos and would draw gamblers from nearby Sioux Falls, S.D.

"We're excited about that. It's two years, or maybe even more, of hard work that paid off," said Gerry Stai, vice president of the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, the nonprofit group that submitted the application.

The panel unanimously turned down requests from groups in Fort Dodge, Ottumwa and Tama County.

Commissioner Paul Hayes said he supports the Lyon County casino because it's expected to draw 80 percent of its revenue from out-of-state gamblers. Estimates were that the other three would get less than 10 percent of their revenue from outside Iowa.

Riverside, Iowa-based Kehl Management will build the 100-room resort and casino, which is expected to open in June of 2011.

Sharon Haselhoff, the public relations director for Kehl Management, said the complex will include a 1,200-square-foot event center; 900 slot machines; eight poker tables; a show lounge; full-service spa; indoor and outdoor pool, gift shop; wellness center; and three dining options: a buffet, combination café and deli, and a fine-dining restaurant serving steak and seafood. An 18-hole golf course is expected to open in 2013.

The project cost has increased from $90 million to $120 million since the construction of a casino was approved by Lyon County voters in September 2008. Haselhoff said market studies of the area indicated the possibility for a larger project scope -- including the addition of 100 slot machines to the original 800.

"This is what we wanted: to build a resort that the Sioux Empire residents will be able to enjoy for years to come," Haselhoff said.

The complex will be financed with $70 million in debt and $50 million in equity, supplied by the Kehl family and 450 Iowan investors.

Supporters of the project have said it would create 400 jobs that pay an average of $27,000 a year plus benefits. They've also said the resort portion will bring outside jobs into the community, with an estimated $1.5 million in revenue to be redistributed to community organizations and schools each year.

"The impact isn't limited to any one town," said John Hulshof, director of the Rock Rapids Development Corporation. "On a county level it's a benefit for property taxes and sales tax."

"It could give current property owners the opportunity to build a larger home. ... It creates some opportunities with existing housing coming open, additional new apartments will be built and it'll have a ripple effect all along the housing in the county," he said.

Lyon County Citizens for Casino Truth and other opponents had cited skewed numbers on salaries and benefits, as well as the potential for an increased number of problem gamblers in the region, in fighting the proposal.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

2:30 p.m. Update

ROCK RAPIDS, Iowa -- Construction will begin next month on a resort and casino near Larchwood following the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission's approval of a casino license application on Thursday.

The commission unanimously approved the Lyon County casino, noting it wouldn't cut into the business of Iowa's 17 other state-licensed casinos and would draw gamblers from nearby Sioux Falls, S.D.

"We're excited about that. It's two years, or maybe even more, of hard work that paid off," said Gerry Stai, vice president of the Lyon County Riverboat Foundation, the nonprofit group that submitted the application.

The panel unanimously turned down requests from groups in Fort Dodge, Ottumwa and Tama County.

Commissioner Paul Hayes said he supports the Lyon County casino because it's expected to draw 80 percent of its revenue from out-of-state gamblers. Estimates were that the other three would get less than 10 percent of their revenue from outside Iowa.

Riverside, Iowa-based Kehl Management will build the 100-room resort and casino, which is expected to open in June of 2011.

Sharon Haselhoff, the public relations director for Kehl Management, said the complex will include a 1,200-square-foot event center; 900 slot machines; eight poker tables; a show lounge; full-service spa; indoor and outdoor pool, gift shop; wellness center; and three dining options: a buffet, combination café and deli, and a fine-dining restaurant serving steak and seafood. An 18-hole golf course is expected to open in 2013.

The project cost has increased from $90 million to $120 million since the construction of a casino was approved by Lyon County voters in September 2008. Haselhoff said market studies of the area indicated the possibility for a larger project scope -- including the addition of 100 slot machines to the original 800.

For the rest of the story, read tomorrow's Daily Globe.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Iowa panel OKs Lyon County casino

By the Associated Press

11:10 a.m. Update

JOHNSTON, Iowa (AP) -- The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has approved on applications for a casino license in Lyon County in northwest Iowa but rejected requests from three others.

The commission on Thursday unanimously approved the Lyon County casino, noting it wouldn't cut into the business of Iowa's 17 other state-licensed casinos and would draw gamblers from nearby Sioux Falls, S.D.

The panel unanimously turned down requests from groups in Fort Dodge, Ottumwa and Tama County.

Commissioner Paul Hayes says he support the Lyon County casino because it's expected to draw 80 percent of its revenue from out-of-state gamblers. Estimates were that the other three would get less than 10 percent of their revenue from outside Iowa.

Click here to read the Des Moines Register's live blog of the vote: http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/category/news/iowapolit...

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