First, Davenport aldermen took on the Riverboat Development Authority to force new, more profitable results for the city’s gaming license.
Then, some Riverboat Development Authority board members ripped into the Davenport City Council for soliciting better operators than the Isle of Capri.
This month, some aldermen challenged the RDA’s attempt to wrest control of the process away from elected officials and leave it in the hands of an RDA board that allowed the gaming revenue to languish for years.
Davenport needs leveler heads in charge of this important process, and they seem in short supply on either the authority board or the council. Too much history. Too much volume. Not enough listening.
On Thursday, Sioux City’s even more convoluted casino conundrum was resolved by a 3-2 vote of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Despite pending litigation, the commission led a public process that vetted four proposals from three vendors, including two that would create brand new authorities to oversee the gaming license.
Now, the Racing and Gaming Commission must step in to lead Davenport through the same process. Unlike the RDA, the Racing and Gaming Commission has acted to protect and increase casino revenue by assuring solid operators actually follow through on their signed agreements.
Twice, the Isle announced, then reneged on Rhythm City makeovers without consequence from the RDA. Credit Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba’s resolve to put the city on the hunt for a new operator. After two years of looking, the city signed one failed deal, then emerged with controversial plans for municipal ownership. Those hopelessly complicated plans ignited a fury of dissent that stopped the city dead in its tracks.
We’ve encountered few folks outside of the council eager to see city government in the gambling business.
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So that leaves Davenport pretty much where it was in 2009.
In less time, the Racing and Gaming Commission resolved an even thornier dispute in Sioux City. The commission has the experience and staffing to help Davenport reach the same goal Gluba outlined in 2009 when he boldly cold-called a national gaming conference in Las Vegas. The goal is simply improving the public revenue share from the city’s gaming license. That goal remains whether or not city government owns a casino.
Iowa’s Racing and Gaming Commission has focused on that goal all along. If there’s one thing we need in Davenport, it’s focus.
Let the commission’s Sioux City experience benefit another Iowa city struggling to improve its gaming share.