Issue 248
June 13 - June 19, 2005
Volume 5
page 1

This Issue

Gaming News

Diamond Jo Casino Ground Breaking

Ground is broken for Chester harness track and casino

Hotel planned at I-5 exit Project for the Stanwood offramp depends on county zoning changes

New, bigger Blue Chip nears completion

Groundbreaking set for Emmetsburg casino resort  

Show Time Kelly Clarkson performs at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood.

Column A Death in the Family By Barney Vinson.

Check out our entertainment highlights & upcoming tournaments

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Diamond Jo Casino Ground Breaking

As Reported by

NORTHWOOD, Iowa - A historic day in our area has most feeling excitement, and others wanting more.
For two years we've been covering the push to get a casino in our area.

Not quite a month after Worth County was granted a casino license...reality really hit home.
Today, Diamond Jo Casino broke ground.

Everyone at the ground-breaking ceremony has gotten what they've wished for.

But others, namely area businesses, still want more.

Shade Tree Liquors owner, Theresa George, is hoping for more business, but not just from casino patrons.

She tells KIMT NewsChannel 3, "I would sure hope they'd buy their liquor from me. I'm the only liquor store in Worth County."

Because from the start, that was the plan.

Kim Miller), with the Worth County Development Authority, tells KIMT NewsChannel 3, "When we chose Diamond Jo, that's one of the things that we talked to them about, that we wanted as many businesses in Worth County to benefit from this."

That's because they can't bet on business from patrons alone.

"I think out there you're gonna get the people traveling through and they're gonna stay out there but I'm still gonna have the locals," says George.

It's the locals that keep her business up and running, but it's the casino that could provide a little something extra.

She says, "I would be extremely disappointed if it didn't happen. I would certainly hope that they would help the county out and help businesses in the county."

And they certainly need it.

"We had the second highest retail leakage in the state because people would either shop at Albert Lea or Mason City and so we were really hurting that way," says Miller.

But Theresa George, and many others, hope the new kid on the block can take that hurt away.

The Diamond Jo Casino will open in early 2006.

The 60,000 square foot facility will have over 500 slot machines, table games and a poker room, as well as an entertainment lounge, a restaurant, a fast food court and a gift shop.

A nearby hotel will have 100 rooms.

Ground is broken for Chester harness track and casino
As reported by

CHESTER, Pennsylvania - State Sen. Dominic Pileggi was getting a haircut recently in Chester when his barber asked what has been a lingering question there: "Is that track really going to happen?"

Pileggi related the story to a crowd of about 100 people, including state and local politicians and officials, yesterday seeking to answer that query once and for all.

"All those hurdles have been overcome, and we're here today to mark this important point in time in Chester's economic development," Pileggi said at a formal groundbreaking ceremony for Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack. Pileggi was formerly the city's Republican mayor.

Plans for the complex call for a harness racetrack, a 1,500-seat grandstand and simulcast facility, a 2,500-slot casino, and a variety of food and beverage outlets. There are also plans for a buffet, 24-hour restaurant, lounge, and 300-seat clubhouse dining area, according to Harrah's.

Promising everything but gold-lined sidewalks, Harrah's Entertainment, which is putting up $250 million for half-interest in the project, also presented a $500,000 check to the Delaware County Workforce Investment Board. The money is to be used in part to prepare Chester residents to fill hundreds of jobs at the track and other businesses expected to follow.

"Gaming has proven to be a powerful catalyst for economic growth for communities that need it most," said Gary Loveman, Harrah's chief executive officer. "We look forward to becoming an active member of the Chester community."

Harrah's officials said the track in Chester would create about 400 construction jobs and 900 full-time positions. The figures are less than initial estimates in part because of computerized gaming cards that would reduce the number of workers needed to make change for gamblers, track officials said.

The state's new gaming law, enacted in July, legalized up to 61,000 slot machines at 14 locations, including racetracks, potentially making Pennsylvania the nation's biggest slot-machine market outside of Nevada. The state Supreme Court still has to decide, however, whether it agrees with a pending challenge that says the law's passage was unconstitutional.

The Chester project, where land is cleared for construction to start, has been granted a license to operate a harness track, but its gaming license is still pending. Harrah's officials said they expect a temporary license to be approved later this year or early in 2006. Racing is scheduled to begin at the track in June 2006.

The three businessmen who formed Chester Downs and Marina and presented the initial plan for a track at the old Sun Shipbuilding site along the Delaware River are 50 percent partners with Harrah's. The plan was met with skepticism that the poverty-stricken city could draw the crowds needed to make the venue viable.
In Chester, 25 percent of households were living in poverty in 2000, compared with 11 percent across the state, according to the U.S. Census.

"Nobody believed this could happen here," Gov. Rendell told the crowd. "But the three partners of Chester Downs, they believed."

About 15 miles north, various outlets are vying for the two slots parlors that were authorized for Philadelphia. Rendell has promised job creation across the state.

"It's going to be job creation for the right people," Rendell said yesterday.

In the crowd, Chester native Tina Johnson asked Rendell what he meant by "the right people."

Rendell did not answer her directly. He instead suggested she contact the state's Gaming Control Board.

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