Iowa International Airport Des Moines could become more than just a major hub for flights. With traffic flow through the airport continuing to rise, the Des Moines Airport Authority (DMAA) needs to expand the property to ease the congestion, but as of yet has not been able to determine who would fund a new terminal.
The DMAA was presented with a novel solution, possibly from seeing the popularity and interest given to the gambling industry lately. A casino resort at the airport would help to cover the expansion costs.
According to the Des Moines Register, the airport plans to spend $500 million on the new terminal, an investment that would help the city tremendously economically, but that requires another $194 million to reach the goal.
This led to the Highview Development Group (HDG), an organisation that includes Wild Rose Entertainment, sending in a proposal to the DMAA for an airport casino and hotel worth $225million. According to HDG president Reggie Sinha, the resort is expected to bring in as much as $85 million a year if constructed.
Wild Rose’s presence is notable because it already operates three gambling facilities in the state, and this is not the first time someone has tried to get the company to partner on a casino. It would appear, though, that Sinha could be closer to finding success where others have failed. A statement from Wild Rose states,“It should be noted that Wild Rose is not the first nor the only casino organisation approached by Mr. Sinah [sic] and his Highview consortium.
“The company supports and is part of his efforts to put forth a creative solution to generate a long-term, continuous funding stream for the airport’s much-needed improvements.”
Iowa already has several gaming facilities-23, to be exact. 17 The casinos are private, two are racinos and four are tribal lands. Nevertheless, Des Moines has only one of these, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, which is located about 20 minutes away in neighbouring Altoona.
HDG has already sent its plan to the DMAA, meeting last Tuesday with its Commission. The venue would include a 350-room hotel linked to the airport via a skywalk, a restaurant a rock garden, and wedding, banquet, and conference facilities. Nonetheless, the subject wasn’t having enough facetime, and will be discussed again when the board meets tomorrow.
Even though the DMAA is persuaded the proposal has merit, it will not make the final decision. Gambling licences in Iowa are provided by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which in recent years has not been pleasant about the idea of new gambling houses in the State. It shot down plans for a new casino in Cedar Rapids in 2014 and 2017, claiming that the market was already saturated, but one casino in Des Moines, with only one, could find a better solution.
It might, but there’s no guarantee it will generate the revenue that HDG hopes it will. Real casinos in the U.S. are becoming less common as the younger generations continue to use more smartphones and tablets, and a new gaming facility could be counterproductive to that.
Tom Coates, who manages Des Moines Consumer Credit counselling service, acknowledges this in a statement, saying, “Brick-and-mortar casinos are on their way out. Older people may want to sit at slot machines all day, but younger people want to gamble from their phones. The casino is not going to be the draw they think it is long term.”