The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission confirmed the city of Davenport would be on its June 6 meeting agenda as the Riverboat Development Authority's secretive process to determine the future of the Rhythm City casino moves forward this week.
Commission administrator Brian Ohorilko confirmed the city's request to be on the agenda to discuss the Isle of Capri-owned Rhythm City. The June 6 meeting will be at Lakeside Hotel Casino in Osceola, Iowa.
"They would like to give us an update on their perspective of the events as they see it," Ohorilko said. "That is all I know right now."
Davenport officials announced last week they have come up with a plan that abandons a previous attempt to put the city in the gambling business. Under the new proposal, Quad-City developer Rodney Blackwell would own the casino and neighboring hotel, and taxpayers would supply $33 million for construction near the Interstate 80/280 interchange.
In exchange for its investment, the city would get a considerable increase in the percentage of adjusted gross revenue it receives annually — from 1.65 percent to 11.4 percent. The increase would give Davenport an estimated $11 million annually in gaming proceeds, versus the current yearly take of $825,000. The new casino operator also would pay property taxes, which are not required of Rhythm City's floating casino.
The city could submit documents or other materials for racing and gaming commissioners to review until 10 days before the meeting, Ohorilko said.
Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba said it is premature to comment on what the city might present at the Racing and Gaming Commission considering the RDA is meeting to consider proposals.
"We'll wait and see if they have a recommendation," he said of the RDA. "We'll play it by ear. We want to keep the process moving."
That process includes what RDA president Mary Ellen Chamberlin said were "several" meetings of a task force to discuss the three to five proposals.
Members of the task force weren't publicly announced, but at a March 4 meeting of the RDA, board members Chad Lewis and Chris Frederick announced their interest in participating, and board chairman Gary Mohr also said he would be a part of it. Chamberlin said she and RDA attorney Bob Gallagher also were reviewing the proposals.
Chamberlin wouldn't disclose the meeting locations or times but said they weren't at Isle of Capri properties. At least one representative of the Isle of Capri will be in attendance at the meeting. Proposals received by the RDA were submitted to The Innovation Group at the request of the Isle of Capri.
"We are working very closely with them," she said of the Isle of Capri and the Racing and Gaming Commission.
The full board will meet next Monday for its grant announcements, but a decision on a potential casino developer likely won't be ready to be voted on at that time, Chamberlin said.
"We are very well aware the city wants the ball back in their court and thinks we’re too slow," Chamberlin said. "I think we’ve gone pretty far since it bounced back to us.
"If we feel we are close, we’ll have a meeting of our board and anyone else who wants to attend."
The board's next scheduled meeting is June 25, but that is the group's annual meeting to elect new board members and officers, so a special meeting would likely be called for any vote on a new casino partner.
Also, Chamberlin said a committee of local business leaders independent of the RDA has been asked to review the proposals. She declined to identify the committee members, saying they asked for anonymity in return for their involvement.
Local business leaders said they hadn't heard of the independent committee but favored it.
"Getting some independent expert advice is probably a good idea," said Hap Volz, a retired bank executive who was one of the more vocal opponents of a city-owned casino. "The RDA after the license is issued isn’t set up to oversee the operation of the casino."
City Administrator Craig Malin said the city was aware of the independent committee.