Gaming revenue from Iowa’s 18 state-licensed casinos increased 2 percent and admissions rose 3.5 percent to 730,000 in the fiscal year ending June 30, and recently ended fiscal year. Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko said credit is due to the 9 million Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, which opened August 2014 and generated million in gaming revenues and attracted 2 million visitors through the end of the fiscal year, second to Prairie Meadows Track & Casino in Altoona which had 3 million visitors.
Ohorilko said thanks to Hard Rock, the Sioux City market rose $21 million compared to fiscal 2014. Hard Rock posted $7 million in revenue in May, slightly less than the $7.165 million it collected in its opening month of August 2014. Revenues dropped to $5.8 million in June. Moyer said that was expected due to numerous competing events.
Located at Third and Pearl streets, Hard Rock Sioux City has 839 slot machines and 25 table games. Despite falling more than $20 million short of the $90.5 million the casino’s Las Vegas-based developers originally forecast, Hard Rock General Manager Todd Moyer said, “It just takes a little bit of time to ramp up. Sioux City was a declining market the last couple of years. We’re getting people to come back to Sioux City. I think you’ll see our numbers continue to increase.”
Overall, in fiscal 2015, the state took in $1.42 billion in gaming revenue, an increase of more than $27 million. Revenues dropped by 4 percent, or $55 million, from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2014, after a peak of $1.46 billion in fiscal 2012. “If you look at the individual markets, most are within 5 percent, up or down, of where they were last year, which demonstrates some stabilization of the market,” Ohorilko said.
Added Wes Ehrecke, president of the Iowa Gaming Association, “It’s encouraging to see a rebound in the numbers from a year previous.” He said upgrades at the Sioux City and Davenport casinos helped boost revenues, as well as the mild winter. Ehrecke also noted casinos are working to offer entertainment options besides gaming. “We have premier entertainment destinations. It’s not just a casino gaming floor experience. It’s the dining, concerts, meeting rooms, conventions, weddings, hotels. I’m encouraged that customers enjoy coming to the casino not only for gaming but for other entertainment experiences.”
Adding to those numbers next year will be the $40 million Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Jefferson in Greene County, which recently had a soft opening and officially will open August 1.The venue includes an 18,000 square foot casino with 536 slot machines and 14 table games. Construction is continuing on the adjacent, separately owned, $5 million, 73-room Cobblestone Hotel & Suites.
Greene County voters approved the casino by a margin of 75 percent to 25 percent in August 2013. The IRGC granted Wild Rose Jefferson a gaming license on June 12, 2014. The facility will add more than 250 jobs to the region with an estimated annual payroll of $7 million.
Greene County Supervisor Guy Richardson, said, “I am very happy. This is a beautiful facility and it is certainly first class. I think this is something Greene County can be very proud of.”
Also in the future, Iowa gamblers may have the option to play on smartphones and tablets. IRGC Chairman Jeff Lamberti said the panel has
heard presentations from a company that could offer horserace betting, online poker and casino games. Lamberti noted the move to online would be up to legislators.