For the first time in 21 years, Bettendorf will not have a casino during a five-day period in June while the Isle of Capri moves its gaming facility from the riverfront to land.
The St. Louis-based company announced Tuesday it will close its riverboat operation June 19 and open its new $60 million land-based gaming and entertainment site June 24. The move comes almost 25 years and three months after riverboat gambling first arrived in the Quad-Cities.
"We are excited about our big little move of just 223 feet,” said Arnold Block, Isle's president and chief operating officer.
Bettendorf actually became home to the first gambling boat in Iowa on April 1, 1991, when the Diamond Lady launched from the city’s shore about 30 minutes before the President launched from Davenport.
On May 27, 1992, however, the Diamond Lady ownership announced the boat would leave Bettendorf. After an almost three-year absence, the Lady Luck Casino brought riverboat gambling back to Bettendorf on April 21, 1995.
During the five-day window this June, crews will transfer games, equipment and employee offices to the 82,000-square-foot structure located in the courtyard between the resort’s two hotel towers.
Last week, workers began pouring concrete for the resort’s curved porte-cochère, or circular turnaround, Isle spokeswoman Jill Alexander said.
The interior, meanwhile, still needs carpet and wallpaper on and around the single-level, 35,000-square-foot gaming floor, which will hold the casino's 975 machines and 20 table games, she said. Its design, influenced by Iowa industries, will incorporate themes of manufacturing, production, machinery and farming.
Casino-goers also will have access to three new restaurant options, including the Farmer's Pick Buffet, Keller's American Grill Restaurant and Keller's Express.
In addition, the project will add the Lone Wolf Bar, a new fitness center and VIP lounge.
The new casino, which will be open 24 hours per day, will host celebrations throughout the first week of the grand opening, including a River to Rock concert featuring Wynonna and the Big Noise on July 1.
Jeff Reiter, Bettendorf’s economic development director, said he hopes the opening “drums up tourism and interest leading into the Fourth of July holiday.”
“With the riverboat going away, we’ll have great views of the new (Interstate 74) bridge and the riverfront,” Reiter said. “There could be a tremendous opportunity for riverfront redevelopment and growth.”
The Isle's boat, Alexander said, will vacate Bettendorf's riverfront "at some point after the new casino opens."
In northeast Davenport, the Rhythm City Casino is set to reopen as a land-based gaming and hotel facility on June 16, company representatives announced in March.
The boat has been sold to an unidentified group of buyers out of Memphis, while the barge, which has served all of Davenport's gambling boats since the 1990s, is on the market.