Greene County Casino Project Granted Gaming License

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BURLINGTON, Iowa -- After months of meetings, studies, and visits to Greene County the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted to grant a gaming license to Wild Rose Entertainment for a new $40 million casino complex in Jefferson.

The commission met Thursday morning in Burlington and the vote was the last item on the agenda for the meeting. Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the application for a gaming license. Richard Arnold, Dolores Mertz, and Jeff Lamberti voted in favor. Carl Heinrich and Kristine Kramer voted against.

Before Lamberti cast the deciding vote, he talked about the advantages Polk County has due the casino revenue from Prairie Meadows and said Polk County would be just fine if a new casino license were granted. He also said he was confident in his decision.

casino planThe crowd of Greene County casino supporters at the meeting erupted in cheers when Lamberti voted to support the gaming license application.

Tom Timmons, President and CEO of Wild Rose Entertainment released the following statement Thursday:

"We are very appreciative of the vote today. We know that the commissioners take great care and effort in making these decisions, and we thank each of them for their commitment to the process. Our application was as compelling as any I have ever seen in my 25-plus years in the Iowa gaming industry. We offered the commission all of the things they look for in a license applicant: the integrity of our existing operations, overwhelming local support, regional support from contiguous counties and the preservation of stability in the industry.”

The plan for the casino from Wild Rose Entertainment features a three-story hotel, events center, and 325 new jobs; making the area's second largest employer.

While a majority of residents voted in favor of the new casino, not everyone is ready to roll the dice on this proposal. Iowans can already try their luck at 18 other casinos.

Greene County residents say new casino in Jefferson is what the town has lacked for years. Small business owner, Lori Smith, says without the casino the town would have continued to suffer economically.

"The money from casino will add to our community. It help some of the small town businesses get back on their feet again and improve."

The commission hired two analysts to see if the casino was sustainable. According to that study the casino would generate around $30 million annually but most of that money would be old revenue, meaning other casinos in the area like Prairie Meadows would suffer.

Developers could start construction on the project as early as next week and hope to complete it July 2015.


  • Erica Crenshaw

    I’m not opposed to a casino in Jefferson. In fact, I think it’s a good location. But this license was approved after Cedar Rapids was denied a casino due to saturation in Iowa. Now all the sudden this casino plan is approved? Knowing Gary Crook is the driving force behind Wild Rose should have been a red flag from the beginning.

  • The Phantom

    I think the casinos in council bluffs and sioux city are going to the one the lose business from this new casinio. People from Des Moines will not travel an hour to the middle of nowhere to gamble.

  • CDH

    I am for a small town getting ti rather than a big city. I know everyone needs jobs and gambling is addictive for some. But anymore we need these to subsidize the economy in a rural area its sad but true. I am happy for the people in Jefferson.

  • Dean

    Get ready for more lonely senior citizens to toss away their savings, and more personal bankruptcies among people under 60. Lotteries and gambling, what proud businesses to support. Sad that we’re not smart enough to stimulate our economy any other way.

  • Jefferson resident

    Finally small town Iowa has won. The metros cannabalize our youth, our jobs, our money and our business and give nothing back. And they squawk. With this decision the area now has another employer and will be a great asset to the the economy in the area

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