Bettendorf casino reverses decade long decline; new land-based facility ups admissions, revenues

The move to a new land-based casino in June of last year has reversed a decade long decline in gamblers and gambling revenue at Bettendorf's Isle of Capri.

For the fiscal year ended June 30, the Isle (now owned by Eldorado Resorts, Inc. of Reno, NV) attracted more than 1 million gamblers, up more than 30 percent from fiscal 2016. With more admissions, the Isle's adjusted gross revenue climbed to $77.5 million, up more than 11 percent compared with the previous fiscal year.

Both numbers are still far below the heyday for casino gambling. Admissions at the Isle of Capri peaked at more than 2 million in 2000, while adjusted gross revenues reached a high of $105 million in 2004.

A similar rebound also was seen at Davenport's Rhythm City Casino with the opening of a new land-based facility in June of 2016.

Admissions at the new I-74 and I-80 location boosted admissions to 1,274,000 in fiscal 2017, surpassing Bettendorf's casino for the first time in well over a decade.

Despite more gamblers at Rhythm City, the Davenport casino's adjusted gross revenues still lag Bettendorf. However, adjusted gross revenues at Rhythm City were up 41 percent compared with fiscal 2016, and the increased admissions were a 70 percent jump from the previous fiscal 12-months.

Both casinos previously had been operating on "riverboats" anchored to the Mississippi River shoreline. The arrangement was a remnant from the original gambling legislation in Iowa which only allowed casinos to be operated on riverboats, which were required to provide cruises and limit losses for each gambler to a total of $250 per cruise. The betting limits and cruise requirements were later stripped from gambling statutes.

The Isle invested some $40 million in its new facility, located between its two riverfront hotels. The cost of Rhythm City's new casino was $110 million.

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