DES MOINES –Iowa’s commercial casinos are collectively the largest tourist attraction in the state continuing to draw more than 20 million visitors per year. That number is expected to increase this year with the opening of new casinos in Iowa.
The Iowa Tourism Division defines a tourist as someone who travels at least 50 miles one way. Conservative estimates indicate that the overall reinvestment in the Iowa economy due to these millions of visits is significant, since more than half of the people who play at Iowa’s casinos are from other states; primarily Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin, as noted in an Analysis of Casino Gaming conducted by Cummings Associates, prepared for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC).
“The commercial casino industry salutes May as Tourism Month and challenges everyone to help promote the many reasons and sites there are to visit in the state,” said Wes Ehrecke, President of the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) that represents 17 members. “As premier entertainment destinations, Iowa’s commercially licensed casinos continue to boost the local and statewide tourism economy. It’s a positive partnership that is helping to attract people here to spend their travel and vacation dollars and also visit other great Iowa attractions, dine at local restaurants, stay at hotels and more,” said Ehrecke.
The IRGC recently released its annual report on casino gaming showing a statewide economic impact of $1.15 billion dollars for 2006; that took into account the collective total of employee wages, charitable contributions, gaming taxes, and Iowa-based purchases. “These are seventeen viable businesses that are at the forefront of promoting Iowa tourism,” added Ehrecke. “That’s a win-win for the state during May tourism awareness, and every month of the year.”
The IGA is an advocate for its members acting as a viable part of the state’s economy and adding value to the entertainment and tourism industry. The IGA’s members are: Ameristar Casino Hotel - Council Bluffs; Argosy Casino - Sioux City; Catfish Bend Casino - Burlington/Ft. Madison; Diamond Jo Casino - Dubuque; Diamond Jo Worth Casino - Northwood; Dubuque Greyhound Park and Casino - Dubuque; Harrah’s Casino Hotel - Council Bluffs; Horseshoe Casino & Bluffs Run Greyhound Park - Council Bluffs; Isle of Capri Casino - Bettendorf; Isle of Capri Casino - Marquette; the isle.casino & hotel at waterloo; Mississippi Belle II/Wild Rose - Clinton; Prairie Meadows - Altoona; Riverside Casino and Golf Resort - Riverside; Rhythm City Casino - Davenport.; Terrible’s Lakeside Casino - Osceola; and the Wild Rose Casino and Resort – Emmetsburg.