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Schedule set for new casino license applicants

Tama, Three Others In The Running

March 5, 2010
By John Speer, Editor
TAMA NEWS-HERALD Events over the next couple of months may well be the determining factor in whether a second casino-resort is located at Tama.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is conducting a drawing today among the four applicants to determine the order they will make presentations to the commission on March 23.

Those will be made at a meeting at the Stoney Creek Inn at Johnston.

On April 6 the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation will provide background checks in a closed session.

On April 7 the commission will tour Tama and two other proposed casino sites. The group is expected to arrive here at 12:30 p.m.

On May 13, the commission is expect to make a final licensing decision.

Financing for the $42 million Tama project is in place according to a letter from Barry J. Brautman, president of Sunway Hotel Group, Inc. to Jack Ketterer, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

The Feb. 8 letter says, in part, “We have a debt commitment of $25,2000,000 leaving an equity balance of $16,800 for this project. Sunway intends on contributing this equity to the project.”

The letter goes on to state, “The equity shall be provided by a core group of investors that routinely contribute to Sunway projects, as well as by the owners of Sunway.

A commission member earlier raised questions about the Tama financing plan before the letter was sent to Ketterer.

The planned Prairie Hills Resort Casino at Tama would feature 500 slot machines, 18 table games, a poker room, convention center and 80-room hotel.

There would be a 90-acre all-terrain vehicle and dirt bike park.

Tama County Community Enrichment, led by Tama Mayor Chris Bearden, would be the non-profit group holding the license. In Iowa, casino licenses must be held by non-profit groups.

Other locations seeking casino licenses include Ottumwa, Lyon County and Ft. Dodge.

Iowa presently has a total of 20 casinos with three being Native American-owned. The Native American casinos including Meskwaki Bingo • Casino west of Tama-Toledo operate under separate charters negotiated with the state as provided by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

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