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Central United States' Quad City Gaming Landscape is Changing

Published on October 25, 2014, 4:32 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

In the heart of the United States lie the Quad Cities, a five-city conglomerate stretching across Iowa and Illinois. The conglomerate exists along the Mississippi River and began as a group of only three towns, the Tri Cities. As the mecca evolved into four areas, then five, the people discussed re-naming the area the Quint Cities. The name "Quad Cities" resonated better with natives, however, and remains so today. Gambling in this area is legal, but up until now has taken place primarily on riverboats. With recent new developments, that trend is changing.

The Quad Cities on the map
The Quad Cities on the map

The conglomerate cities in the "Quad" are:

  • Bettendorf, Iowa
  • Davenport, Iowa
  • Rock Island, Illinois
  • Moline, Illinois
  • East Moline, Illinois

Even though citizens of the region hail from two different states, they share many resources and services. One of these services is the riverboat gaming industry. For the past 22 years, three major riverboat casinos have operated in the metropolis. These riverboat casinos are: Jumer's Casino and Hotel of Rock Island, the Isle Casino Hotel of Bettendorf, and the Rhythm City Casino of Davenport. For a taste of something different, East Moline also offers thoroughbred off-track betting at Trackside Quad City Downs.

Because these five cities partner together in so many ways, they form what is called a "combined statistical area," or CSA. With a population of nearly 500,000 people, statistics dictate that the Quad Cities region is the 90th largest CSA in the U.S.

Changes to the Quad City Gambling Landscape

For several years, the Isle of Capri Casinos corporation has been trying to sell its Davenport riverboat, the Rhythm City Casino. As of early December 2013, the company finally has an approved buyer. The Rhythm City riverboat is to be purchased by Scott County Casino LLC and moved to a new location along Interstate 80. Scott County is part of the Quad City metropolitan area, so although ownership of the riverboat is shifting, the casino will not have to travel very far to reach its new home. The close move will hopefully ease the transition for the Rhythm City's many employees.

The Rhythm City Casino riverboat in Davenport
The Rhythm City Casino riverboat in Davenport

About Rhythm City Riverboat

The current Rhythm City Casino website advertises over 800 electronic games and 14 table games within 30,000 feet of gaming space. It also advertises a buffet, the Hit Parade, with a capacity to seat 200 guests. While the casino does not host overnight guests, its website gives links to several area hotels, including the Isle Casino Hotel Bettendorf, the Clarion Hotel Davenport, and the Radisson Quad City Plaza.

Interstate 80, Rhythm City's New Home

This transcontinental interstate highway is the second largest in the nation, beginning in San Francisco and concluding in New Jersey. The highway is historically significant, closely tracing the route of the first official road across America, the Lincoln Highway. In the Quad Cities region, I-80 bridges across the great Mississippi River.

Land Based Gambling: New Plans for the Old Rhythm City Address

Dan Kehl is a lead developer for Scott County Casino LLC. According to WQAD Channel 8 of the Quad Cities, he is hoping to build a $110 million dollar land-based casino and hotel in the region where the old Rhythm City now stands.

After a tussle with city officials about how much money Kehl should shell out for the riverboat purchase, a price tag of $51 million was finally agreed upon. Davenport mayor Bill Gluba had wanted more cash for the facility, which would have been applied toward the funding of homeless shelters and museums. Gluba quipped to the press, "It's always about the money."

More Gaming Choices for the Quad Cities

At the end of the day, Quad City residents will end up with more gambling choices because of this business deal. In addition to their three riverboats and thoroughbred racing venue, they will also have the option of visiting Kehl's new land-based facility. If this new facility results in additional revenue for the area, as it very well may, Mayor Gluba could still get some of the funding he's hoping for.

About Isle of Capri Casinos

Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.
Isle of Capri Casinos Inc.

The Isle of Capri Casinos corporation will soon relinquish its ownership of its Davenport riverboat casino, but the 1990-founded company still owns 14 other gambling facilities in the U.S. The publicly traded company, under the Nasdaq ticker symbol ISLE, sees approximately two million visitors per year. Many guests enjoy the corporation's 15,000 slot machines, 370 table games, and 3,000 hotel rooms throughout Colorado, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Iowa, and Florida.

In 2012, Isle of Capri Casinos sold a Biloxi property to the Golden Nugget Biloxi corporation. In spite of these recent sales, however, the company is not slowing down. President Virginia McDowell recently told reporters that the corporation is in the process of finding an architect for a new land-based casino in Bettendorf, one of the five Quad Cities. No other specific information has been released to the public at this time, but McDowell's hint suggests that even more gaming choices may be soon coming to the citizens of the region.

About Riverboat Casinos

Today in the states, riverboat casinos are a bit of a novelty. Once upon a time, however, Nevada was the only state where people could legally gamble on land. In 1991, Iowa was one of the first states to find a way around this law and capitalize on consumers' gambling money. They did this by opening riverboat casinos.

A riverboat casino is technically not a land-based facility. Because the boat "floats" for the duration of a "cruise," Iowa and other states were able to offer legal gambling to people by running riverboat gambling cruises.

Today, with the legalization of land-based casinos in most of America's states and the new trend of legalized online gambling in three states, riverboat casinos are more of a departure from the norm. Like the historical trek called "I-80," they hint at the sentimental way America used to be, not the way it truly is now.


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