In May of 1983, the Iowa Legislature passed the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act allowing qualified sponsoring organizations to apply for a license to conduct pari-mutuel wagering on horse and dog racing. The Governor signed the bill and subsequently appointed the first Racing Commission on July 1, 1983. The Act provided for a Commission consisting of five members each serving a staggered three-year term. The Commission appoints an Administrator for a four-year term, responsible for the daily operations of the Commission.
July 18, 1984, the Commission:
August 28, 1984, a three-year conditional license was
granted to Iowa West Racing Association for
greyhound racing in Council Bluffs.
This facility opened on February 27, 1986 as Bluffs Run.
At the expiration of each initial three-year license, live racing dates were approved annually in June of each year.
December 20, 1984, Racing Association of Central Iowa's
petition to change the location of their proposed thoroughbred facility from
Bondurant to Altoona was approved. This facility opened on March 1, 1989 as
March 15, 1985, a three-year license was granted to the Iowa Horse Racing Association, Ltd., for pari-mutuel harness racing at various county fair locations throughout the state. (1985 locations in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Denison, Nashua, Humboldt, What Cheer and Monticello; 1986 locations-Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Humboldt, Keokuk, Denison, Spencer, and Monticello; 1987 locations in Des Moines, Humboldt and What Cheer and 1988 locations in Des Moines, Keokuk and What Cheer)
July 11, 1985, a conditional three-year license was granted to the Cedar Rapids Horse Racing, Inc. in Cedar Rapids. On January 14, 1986, the license was voluntarily surrendered.
July 14, 1987, a license was denied to the Heartland Association for a horse track in Hiawatha and a renewal license was granted to Racing Association of Central Iowa.
allowing pari-mutuel wagering on
simulcast races received by a licensed pari-mutuel facility conducting a minimum
number of live performances.
Simulcasting is the telecasting of live audio and visual signals of pari-mutuel
races received from an authorized racing facility for the purpose of pari-mutuel
July 1, 1989, legislation was enacted allowing the Commission to license qualified sponsoring organizations to conduct gambling games on excursion gambling boats in a county where the electorate approves a proposition by referendum.
Excursion boat gambling referendums held in 1989:
March 8, 1990, the Commission granted excursion boat gambling licenses to the following entities (Qualified Sponsoring Organization/Excursion Boat Operator):
November 27, 1990, an excursion boat gambling license was granted to the Missouri River Historical Development, Inc./Steamboat Sioux City Inc., who voluntarily surrendered their license on March 26, 1992.
January 17, 1991, an excursion boat gambling license was granted to the Clinton County Gaming Association/Mississippi Belle II, Inc., who began operation on June 12, 1991 as the Mississippi Belle II in Clinton.
November 27, 1991, Prairie Meadows filed for Chapter 11
The Final Order was
issued on May 17, 1993 bringing them out of Bankruptcy.
May of 1992, legislation was enacted removing the live
performance requirement for simulcast wagering at pari-mutuel facilities.
In 1994, that legislation was amended requiring at least sixty
performances of nine live races each day of the season in order for simulcasting
Excursion boat gambling referendums were approved on August 20, 1991 in Allamakee County and on October 15, 1991 in Clayton County.
During 1992, the Director of the Department of Inspections and Appeals negotiated three Native American Indian tribal gaming compacts for the Governor. The Commission has no regulatory or oversight responsibility for the compacts.
In July of 1992, the licensees serving Bettendorf and Burlington/Ft Madison/ Keokuk ceased operations leaving three operating excursion boat licensees in Iowa.
July 2, 1992, a three year license was granted to the
Missouri River Historical Development, Inc./Sioux City
Riverboat Corp., who began
operation as the Sioux City Sue
An excursion boat gambling referendum was approved on November 3, 1992 in Polk County.
In March of 1993, the licensee serving Dubuque ceased operation leaving three operating excursion boat licensees in: Clinton, Davenport and Sioux City. However, that same month a license was granted to the Dubuque Racing Association/Greater Dubuque Riverboat Entertainment Company, L.C., who began operation as the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque on May 18, 1994.
September 16, 1993, an excursion boat license was denied to Summit Riverboat Casinos Sioux City, Inc./Missouri River Historical Development, Inc.
December 10, 1993, National Cattle Congress, Inc. (Waterloo Greyhound Park) filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. The Final Order issued on June 26, 1996 brought them out of Bankruptcy.
January 20, 1994, an excursion gambling boat license was granted to the Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Corporation/Catfish Bend Casinos L.C., who began operation as Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington/Ft. Madison on November 16, 1994.
enacted in March of 1994:
Gambling game referendums were
in the following counties in 1994:
Excursion gambling boat licensees began unlimited gambling in June of 1994.
18, 1994, excursion gambling boat licenses were
granted to the Marquette Gaming Corporation/Gamblers Supply Management Company,
who began operation as the Miss Marquette on December 26, 1994 in Marquette and
to the Missouri River Historical Development Inc./Belle of Sioux City, L.P. ,
began operation as the Belle of Sioux City on December 1, 1994 in Sioux City.
The Sioux City Riverboat Corporation ceased operation at that time.
In 1996, Marquette Gaming Corporation changed its name to Upper
Mississippi Gaming Corporation.
January 18, 1995, an excursion gambling boat license was granted to Riverbend Regional Authority/Lady Luck Bettendorf, L.C., who began operation as Lady Luck on April 21, 1995 in Bettendorf. It had been approximately three years since Bettendorf was last served by a riverboat.
January 20, 1995, excursion gambling boat licenses were granted to Iowa West Racing Association/Harveys Iowa Management Company, Inc., who began operation as Harveys Casino Hotel on January 1, 1996 and Iowa West Racing Association/Ameristar Council Bluffs Inc., who began operation as Ameristar Casino on January 19, 1996, both located in Council Bluffs. Four licenses were denied in the Council Bluffs area: President Riverboat Casino-Carter Lake, Inc./Pottawattamie County Gaming Association; Boomtown Iowa, L.C./Iowa West Racing Association; Iowa Par-A-Dice, L.P./Iowa West Racing Association; and Abbott L.C.-MOM Inc./Pottawattamie County Gaming Association.
An excursion boat gambling referendum was approved on February 28, 1995 in Clarke County.
February 28, 1995, a gambling games racetrack enclosure license was granted to Iowa West Racing Association, who began operation as Bluffs Run Casino on March 15, 1995 in its Council Bluffs facility.
Also on February 28, 1995, a gambling games racetrack enclosure license was granted to Racing Association of Central Iowa, who began operation as Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino on April 1, 1995 in its Altoona facility.
In July of 1995, legislation was enacted requiring the Commission to cooperate with the gamblers assistance program and to incorporate information regarding the program and its toll-free telephone number in printed materials distributed by the Commission. It also provided that, as a condition of licensing, the Commission could require licensees to have the information available in a conspicuous place.
July 20, 1995, a gambling
games racetrack enclosure license was granted to Dubuque Racing Association, who
began operation as Dubuque Greyhound Park and Casino on November 22, 1995 in its
July 20, 1995, an
excursion gambling boat license was denied for Clarke County Development
Corporation/Argosy of Iowa, Inc. in Osceola.
November 16, 1995, the racing dates of February 25, 1995 April 21, 1996 were denied to the National Cattle Congress. On January 30, 1996, the racing dates of February 14 April 21, 1996 were denied and on March 7, 1996, a pari-mutuel wagering license was denied for the National Cattle Congress. Operations ceased at Waterloo Greyhound Park on July 13, 1996 in Waterloo.
April 18, 1996, an excursion gambling boat license was
denied for ILLIAMO/Midwest Gaming in Keokuk.
June 20, 1996, SODAK Gaming Inc. was approved to purchase the Gamblers Supply Management Company, the licensed excursion gambling boat operator at Marquette.
An excursion boat gambling
referendum failed on November 5, 1996 in Dallas
April 8, 1997, an
excursion gambling boat license was denied for Clarke County Development
Corporation/Argosy of Iowa, Inc. in Osceola.
A second excursion boat gambling referendum was approved on November 18, 1997, in Clarke County.
November 20,1997, an excursion gambling boat license was granted to Clarke County Development Corporation/Southern Iowa Gaming Company, who began operations on January 1, 2000 as Lakeside Casino Resort.
October 22, 1998, the Commission approved the change in ownership from Harveys Casino Resorts, parent company of Harveys Iowa Management Company, Inc., to Colony Investors III, L.P. and Colony HCR VoteCo, L.L.C.
January 21, 1999, the Commission approved the sale of assets from the Greater Dubuque Riverboat Entertainment Co. (Dubuque Diamond Jo) to AB Capital, L.L.C.
May 20, 1999, an excursion boat license was granted to the Dubuque Racing Association/Peninsula Gaming Company, L.L.C. (name changed from AB Capital, L.L.C.) to operate a riverboat in Dubuque. The change in ownership of the operation of the Diamond Jo was effective on July 15, 1999.
September 23, 1999, the Commission approved the purchase of Bluffs Run physical structure from Southwest Iowa Foundation by Iowa West Racing Association (IWRA); the purchase and sale agreement and joint escrow instructions by and between HBR Realty Company, Inc., and IWRA; Lease by and between HBR Realty Company, Inc., and IWRA; and the Management Agreement between Harveys BR Management Company, Inc. and IWRA.
October 21, 1999, an excursion gambling boat license was granted to the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corp./Lady Luck Marquette, Inc., to operate a riverboat in Marquette. The change in ownership of the operation was effective on October 30, 1999. Lady Luck Gaming Corporation purchased the stock of Gamblers Supply Management Company.
January 20, 2000, excursion gambling boat licenses were granted to the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corp./Isle of Capri Marquette, Inc. operating as the Miss Marquette which later changed to Isle of Capri Marquette; and the Scott County Regional Authority/Isle of Capri Bettendorf, L. C. operating as Lady Luck Bettendorf which later changed to Isle of Capri Bettendorf. Both operations changed ownership on March 2, 2000. This was a result of the Isle of Capri, Inc., merger with Lady Luck Gaming Corporation and BRDC, Inc.
September 15, 2000, an excursion gambling boat license was granted to the Riverboat Development Authority/IOC Davenport, L.C., operating as The President (operating as Rhythm City in March of 2001). The change in ownership of the operation occurred October 10, 2000.
June 21, 2001, sale of the
ownership interest in Harveys Casino Resorts, parent of wholly-subsidiaries:
Harveys Iowa Management Company and Harveys BR Management Co.,
Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. was approved and an excursion gambling boat
license was granted to Iowa West Racing Association/Harveys Iowa Management Company,
Inc., an indirect wholly-owned subsidiary of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.
15, 2001, merger of Mississippi Belle II, Inc., into Mississippi Belle II
Employees Ownership Company with the sale of a 51 percent interest to
Mississippi Belle II Ownership Company. Employee Stock Ownership Trust was
approved and an excursion gambling boat license was granted to Clinton County
Gaming Association, Ltd./Mississippi Belle II Employees Ownership Company.
November 5, 2002, gaming referenda* passed in Woodbury, Jackson, Lee, Des Moines, Polk (track only), Pottawattamie (boat and track), Clarke, Clinton, Clayton, Scott, and Dubuque (boat and track) counties. (*excursion boat gambling referenda only unless otherwise noted)
June 2003, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the State's differential tax rate did not violate the Federal Equal Protection clause. The Iowa Supreme Court's judgment to the contrary was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
Gambling game referendums were held in the following counties in 2003:
Gambling game referendums were held in the following counties in 2004:
February 2004, the Supreme Court of Iowa upheld its
earlier decision to declare the differential tax invalid under the Iowa
Constitution because they were convinced that the classifications made in
the Code lacked a rational basis for a differing tax rate in the
At the June 10, 2004 Commission
Meeting, the Commission established November 10, 2004, as the date that all
applications for new riverboat gambling facilities be filed with the Commission
provided the Commission takes the necessary steps to final adopt the rule to
lift the moratorium.
At the September 2, 2004 Commission Meeting, the Commission final adopt the rule to lift the moratorium.
On November 10, 2004, the Commission received ten applications for new excursion gambling boat licenses and at the November 19 Commission meeting, a timetable for a review and evaluation process was announced.
2004, an excursion boat license was granted to the
Clarke County Development Company/Herbst Gaming, Inc.
to operate a riverboat in
The change in ownership of the operation of the
Lakeside Casino Resort will be effective on
The Commission granted a license to the following applicants:
The Commission denied without prejudice a license to the following applicants:
On June 9, 2005, the Commission approved the acquisition of Argosy Gaming by Penn National Gaming, Inc.
On July 14, 2005, the Commission discussed the possibility of reinstating the moratorium rule on additional excursion gambling boat licenses and racetrack enclosure licenses. It was the feeling of the Commission that they did not want to reinstate a moratorium rule, however, each Commissioner expressed their opinion that while not wanting to reinstate a moratorium rule, they were not inclined to issue any additional licenses until the four new licensees were built and operating results could be evaluated. (Complete history of moratorium rule)
June 8, 2006, the Commission approved the sale of the Mississippi Belle II assets to Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C. and then an excursion gambling boat license was issued to Wild Rose Clinton, L.L.C./Clinton County Community Development Association.
June 8, 2006, the Commission approved an excursion gambling boat license to Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC/Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission to facilitate the division of the existing Catfish Bend Casinos, LLC into two separate entities: Catfish Bend Casinos II, LLC which will own and operate the existing casino operations in Des Moines and Lee Counties and Catfish Bend Riverside, LLC which will continue to own an interest in, and perform existing management agreements for Washington County Casino Resort.
July 13, 2006, the Commission approved an expansion plan for the Diamond Jo Worth facility in Northwood.
Excursion boat gambling referendums held on November 7, 2006 was approved in Tama County and failed in Buena Vista County.
Legislation enacted during the 2007 Legislative Session:
On November 8, 2007, the Commission approved Catfish Bend Casino to cease operation of their facility in Fort Madison on November 15, 2007. The facility in Burlington will continue to operate as a moored barge.
An excursion boat gambling referendum failed on December 4, 2007 in Cherokee County.
On March 6, 2008, the Commission approved licenses for
Dubuque Racing Association/Peninsula Gaming Company, LLC and Clinton County
Community Development Association/Wild Rose Clinton, LLC; to operate a
Gambling Structures upon completion of their new facilities.
13, 2008, the Commission retained the services of two nationally
recognized companies in the gaming industry to conduct studies for the
Commission (The Innovation Group and GVA Marquette).
The studies are to identify any unserved or underserved markets in Iowa.
The studies will then provide projections as to the potential revenue which
could be generated by those markets given varying levels of investment and
the projected impact on existing licensed facilities in Iowa. In addition,
the studies will provide the same projections for casinos in those counties
which have passed referenda and expressed a desire to seek a license for a
casino in their county, whether or not they are deemed unserved . Those
counties are Franklin, Lyon, Tama, Wapello and Webster.
The studies are scheduled for completion in May or early June.
During the July 16, 2009, Commission Meeting, the Commission discussed the granting of additional gaming licensees. Following a lengthy discussion, the Commission determined they would open up the process and would accept applications until October 1, 2009.
On March 4, 2010, the Commission did not renew the license of Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission/Catfish Bend Casinos II license to operate in Fort Madison due to inactivity.
On May 13, 2010, the Commission took action on new excursion gambling boat applications.
The Commission granted a license to the following applicant:
The Commission denied a license to the following applicants:
Legislation enacted during 2011 Legislative Session:
On March 8, 2012, the Commission issues a license to Missouri River Historical Development/Belle of Sioux City, L.P. d/b/a Argosy Casino Sioux City conditioned upon the parties negotiating and submitting a new operating agreement by June 7, 2012. As there was no operating agreement by June 7, the license was not renewed. However, the facility continues doing business by operation of the law.
On June 7, 2012, the Commission opened up the licensing process in Woodbury County to any potential operators and potential non-profits to apply for a license.
On September 27, 2012, the
approved the stock purchase of Peninsula Gaming, LLC
by Boyd Gaming Corporation.
On June 6, 2013, the Commission approved the stock purchase of Ameristar by Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.
An excursion boat gambling referendum was approved on August 6, 2013 for Greene County.
On October 10, 2013, the Commission retained the services of Marquette Advisors and Union Gaming Analytics to conduct a market analysis on gaming in the state of Iowa. The analysis will focus on identifying underserved and currently serviced, but underperforming, markets statewide; and also include an assessment of any applications from Linn County or Greene county that may be submitted.
On January 9, 2014, the Commission approved the asset purchase of IOC Davenport, Inc. by Scott County Casino, LLC.
On April 16, 2014, the Commission denied the 2013-2014 license renewal application submitted by Belle of Sioux City, L.P., for the Argosy Casino. This action set in motion an end to operation of the Argosy Casino by operation of law. The conduct of gambling games at the Argosy Casino-Sioux City shall case on or before July 1, 2014. After all remedies had been exhausted, the facility closed on July 31, 2014.
Legislation enacted during the 2014 Legislative Session:
On June 12, 2014, the Commission approved a license for Grow Greene County Gaming to conduct gambling games and Wild Rose Jefferson, LLC to operate the gambling structure.
On October 9, 2014, the Commission retained Spectrum Gaming
Group pursuant to Iowa Code 99D.9B to assist the Commission in determining how
the monies in the Iowa Greyhound Pari-Mutuel Racing Fund will be distributed.
On November 12, 2014, the Commission approved the request by the Dubuque Racing Association d/b/a as Mystique Casino to conduct gambling games at a gambling structure instead of a racetrack enclosure, effective January 1, 2015.
On March 5, 2015, the Commission distributed the purse escrow fund created in an arbitration decision issued in December 1995. The Commission divided the escrow fund one half for purses at Bluffs Run, distributed on a prorated basis based on past purse earning for the years 2011-2015 and one half to the Iowa Greyhound Association for purses.
Currently, there are seventeen excursion gambling boats or gambling structures, two racetrack enclosures, one pari-mutuel track and three Native American Indian Casinos operating in Iowa.