A member of the Riverboat Development Authority board claims Davenport’s process for developing a land-based casino is skewed toward downtown rather than the city’s interstate corridor.

The email, written by RDA board member Chad Lewis with the support of board treasurer Don Decker, went out to board members Friday. In it, Lewis is critical of the scoring process for proposals, saying it favors a downtown casino.

Although the RDA and its president, Mary Ellen Chamberlin, will be involved in evaluating proposals, the email questioned the outcome based on the scoring system.

Lewis confirmed he wrote the email but declined to comment on Tuesday. Decker, who also is concerned about the project’s finances, said he favors a casino located along the interstate.

“The point system laid out by (Davenport City Administrator) Craig Malin is tilted in the favor of a downtown location,” the email states. “Mary Ellen stated we would be allowed to participate in the review process.

“Our participation won’t matter if the scoring template is already skewed in favor of downtown,” the email states. “This serves two purposes from the city side of the equation. They can claim fair play and look innocent when all the selected RFP’s (request for proposals) are downtown locations.”

Decker points out that the process allows points for not just “proximity to Quad-City population center” and “walkable access to existing attractions,” but also cost efficiency and time efficiency. That, he said, favors existing venues such as the downtown Radisson Quad-City Plaza and Hotel Blackhawk.

An addendum to the request for proposals lists 18 city-owned properties. Seven of those are located downtown, but four properties are located south of River Drive. The largest city-owned parcel downtown is the 3.6-acre Florian Kean parking lot.

City officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday, although Malin confirmed a response to the email is being drafted.

RDA board president Gary Mohr said the email is from one voice, and the board hasn’t taken a position. Chamberlin said the email shows a difference of opinion among board members.

“Everyone on the board has an opinion, but the board itself hasn’t issued an opinion,” she said. “Some favor an interstate location, and others favor a downtown location.

“There is some lobbying going on in there. Until the board acts on this, it is one person’s opinion.”

She admits that when the city worked with developer Steve Edelson on a proposed casino project, it was more willing to provide incentives for a downtown location.

Decker doesn’t think everyone involved is aware of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission’s support of an interstate casino and is suspicious that requests didn’t go out to all parties that requested them.

“I think some light needs to be shed on this,” Decker said. “I think it needs more transparency and honesty. I don’t think all the facts were given to aldermen.”

The RDA board is seeking more information from the city, and members are to submit questions to RDA attorney Bob Gallagher Sr. by Friday so they can be given to the city to respond. A board meeting where those questions are to be answered is scheduled for Dec. 14.


(13) comments


The Casino Rock Island probably wouldn't have passed this suitability test when the chose to leave downtown and build out by the interstate. And what has made this Davenport band of casino neophytes so much smarter than their Illinois competitors?


Maybe they could put it out at Rita Crudwells Horse Ranch. It would be fitting..


Does all of this smoke screen and deception surprise anyone?


Another blunder by the Davenport City Council to go wtih such great moves as letting the race track go elsewhere, the bridge to nowhere and scenic road construction. Way to go!!!

Comment deleted.

Sheri please seek help for your mental health issues.


.Either the times reporters are totally clueless or just they don’t care to understand this story. The casino is only going two places. It will either end up in the River Center or on Second Street where JA and the QC Chamber are located. The second is probably the forerunner. The Chamber is moving to Illinois….DONE DEAL…and the rest of the block long building is virtually empty. The real requirement however is where Restoration St. Louis wants it. They have the Black Hawk Hotel already so a River center casino (promised to them years ago) is fine but they also have the second street location under contract. A city owned downtown casino was and is the only goal. The oversight board is stacked in favor of the cities recommendation and to think this hasn’t been decided months ago is foolish. If this paper truly cared to dissect the Black Hawk hotel agreement between Restoration St. Louis and the City they could have seen this coming. Pay close attention to what the Hotel actually owns and what it gets to use for a nominal fee…The City owns the Gold Room, the Black Hawk rents it and the River Center runs it. All of this is public information and common knowledge to those of us who run downtown businesses. The City thought this was a pretty smooth process then Blackwell upset the apple cart by stating the obvious…5 million dollars extra is nothing to pay for an Interstate location if profits are the cities only motive. Then Bloomberg chimes in and basically says the city is crazy to saddle tax payers with this huge liability. Just ask yourself why the 5 million dollar clause is in the contract. The Isle was denied the ability to move to the highway in the first place; thus the penalty for the guy who does. I don’t think this can be stopped. The Chamber is in the tank for it. The City has skewed the requirements. I’m hopeful this will help my business but I’m thinking the wrong element that already plagues downtown will just multiply


KJ, this is the most honest assessment of the casino deal I've seen, thanks. I have to note that its not coming from my Alderman or city administrator. It seems to me that downtown is coming along pretty well without an on shore casino, I'd like to see it become a vibrant marketplace like it used to be, but a casino in the old Parker block or else where in the downtown will just make a huge abyss where money disappears, not where it gets circulated. I want to defend the Times reporter a little bit, he is the only mediatype that is willing to ask even blunted questions about the deal. TV and Radio have all apparently drunk the koolaid, with what you've said about the Chamber I understand why.


The city is the entity that will be taking the financial risk, the RDA will only - as usual - have its hand out. If the city has reasons for locating the casino where IT wants, it should be allowed to set the criteria how it wants. Period.


According to the term letter approved by the council the city must give the Isle of Capri $5million more if the casino moves out side "downtown" Davenport. Does that skew it some?


Of course it is a skewed approach... was from the start duh....


There are some good points to having it downtown. During summer weekend festivities, many tourists go to the current boat for dinner or to get out of the heat.
The Mississippi River is a big draw to out-of-towners when they visit downtown.
The downtown area has some nice restaurants and hotels already, which could use extra business.
A lot of older Davenporters, which make up a good part of the current casino visitors, don't like to go out to the interstate. It's much more convenient downtown.


Parking is a huge issue for all downtown. Not sure how it's get better with a landlock Casino?


Of course they're skewed. Gluba wants it downtown, and he won't hear otherwise. Gluba thinks Davenport ends at 4th Street.

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