|By Matt Milner, Ottumwa Courier,
IowaMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
October 14, 2009--OTTUMWA -- The Rippling Waters Casino will begin operations in 2011 if Ottumwa receives a casino license next spring.
Ingenus president Ken Mimmack announced the name of the casino at a meet-and-greet reception Tuesday evening at Bridge View Center. The reception served to flesh out some of the basic elements of Ottumwa's bid for a casino license, though many details remain.
"It's your turn," Mimmack told an audience of several hundred people. He said Ottumwa's experience in 2005 gives it an edge in the competing locations for casino expansion.
River Hills Riverboat Authority chairman Steve Siegel agreed.
"This has been an interesting trip trying to get this casino up and running here in Ottumwa," Siegel said. "We're convinced this time we're going to make it."
The casino itself will be between 40,000-50,000 square feet with 500 slot machines. Plans include an additional 10 table games and two food vendors. The hotel will have 100-plus hotel rooms with space for future expansion.
One of the major issues for the state is the amount of money new casinos can bring in. Ingenus believes the Ottumwa casino can bring in $32-$35 million per year. That kind of traffic generates over $7 million in state tax revenue annually and at least $1.2 million in local taxes.
A new casino also creates one of the hardest commodities to find over the past year: new jobs. Over 300 full-time positions are needed to run the casino and any future expansion would increase that figure.
The new casino will play off Bridge View Center and the established assets in the immediate area. The proposal is not going to be the largest before the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, but Mimmack said it fits what the community and Iowa need.
"We believe it's very important to know your market. To not over-promise," he said. "Right now the people who were winning in the past ... that's not going to happen. I believe the commission will see through that."
Tuesday also brought the first glimpse of what the casino might look like. Architects from Simonson & Associates brought conceptual art for people to look at. Company officials emphasized the drawings are very preliminary. Mimmack said the company has developed around 20 different scenarios that could become the casino.
While confidence from Ingenus and the RHRA is high, no one is suggesting Ottumwa can sit back and wait for the commission to grant a license. Keith Caviness, the city's delegate to the RHRA, warned that there is a lot of work ahead.
"This is not going to be a walk in the park," he said. "We are being challenged to bring something that is outside the box."
The IRGC will receive proposals for new casinos next month. Evidence of financing for the projects must be in place by January. The commissioners will tour the sites for proposed casinos before making a decision late next spring or early next summer.
Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at email@example.com
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