Wild Rose Entertainment shows a generous use of glass in its conceptual design for a planned $40 million casino in Jefferson.
Wild Rose Entertainment shows a generous use of glass in its conceptual design for a planned $40 million casino in Jefferson.
September 19, 2013



Jefferson

Wild Rose Entertainment President and CEO Tom Timmons has released a conceptual drawing for a proposed casino in Jefferson, a modern structure that would be located to the northwest of the U.S. Highway 30 and Highway 4 intersection.

The gaming-and-entertainment complex - with a preliminary cost figure of $40 million - is expected to provide more than 250 jobs, an annual payroll of $6.5 million to $7 million and over $2 million each year to county non-profit organizations and local tax coffers.

An artist's rendering shows generous use of glass in the front portion with a hotel and events center on the northeast side. A restaurant and sports bar are featured on the west side of the design. The complex would face to the southeast with a parking area located between the entertainment venue and highway intersection.

During a Greene County Development Corp. dinner and program at the fairgrounds last Wednesday, Timmons said the West Des Moines-based casino developer is about 50 percent finished with an application license for submission to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

"We are working diligently on that," Timmons said.

The Racing and Gaming Commission this fall could set a date for review of an application for a casino in Greene County. A final vote from the five-member commission could come in the spring.

On Tuesday, the Carroll Area Development Corp. voted unanimously to approve a letter of support for the Jefferson casino. Wild Rose, and its associated Greene County not-for-profit, expect to receive similar endorsements from other regional organizations and individuals. Greene County development officials have been active in Western Iowa Advantage in promoting area economic activity.

Timmons said he believes Greene County is well-positioned for a casino as it is located in an under-served stretch of Iowa for legalized gaming.

Iowa currently has 18 state-regulated casinos. The closest casino to Jefferson - Prairie Meadows in Altoona, east of Des Moines - is about 75 miles. Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Emmetsburg is 90 miles from Jefferson.

"I honestly don't think Des Moines will jump in and protest anything here in Greene County," Timmons said. "I'm looking at this and I'm thinking, 'Who are we going to affect?'"

Motioning to his staff at the Greene County dinner, Timmons said, "I feel real good about this. These guys can tell you, I don't just say that."

Greene County voters gave the first-time casino vote in Greene County the largest margin of victory in the history of such referendums in Iowa with 75 percent approval on Aug. 6.

At its Oct. 10 meeting in Dubuque, the Racing and Gaming Commission is expected to hire a firm to analyze how new casinos in Cedar Rapids (Linn County voters approved gaming this year as well) and Greene County would affect the existing network of gaming facilities. The study also is expected to cover the Des Moines area, where casino interests have long talked about prospects of developing a second facility. Council Bluffs has three casinos.

Timmons said any efforts to site a casino in Fort Dodge will run up against cannibalization concerns with Wild Rose's Emmetsburg casino. If a casino were to be constructed in Fort Dodge, it would deliver a 25 percent hit to Wild Rose's bottom line in Emmetsburg, Timmons said.

Big picture, Greene County Development Corp. executive director Ken Paxton said the casino-and-entertainment complex In Jefferson will make the county more attractive for businesses and new residents.

"It makes us a lot more interesting when we go out to new businesses," Paxton said.