The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Business & Technology

September 18, 2013

Iowa court asked to stop Sioux City casino work

DES MOINES (AP) — The owner of the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino has asked a state judge to stop construction on a Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in downtown Sioux City.

Attorneys for Argosy’s parent company, Penn National Gaming Co., filed the motion in Polk County District Court in Des Moines on Monday, the Sioux City Journal reported. Penn National is seeking to stop the construction until its lawsuit against the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission over the commission’s selection process for the new casino is resolved.

Work began in July on the $128.5 million Hard Rock casino.

The commission in April selected the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Sioux City for a new land-based casino over three others proposals, including two offered by Penn National. Penn National immediately filed a petition for judicial review, claiming the commission violated Penn’s constitutional protections, state and federal laws, and the agency’s own rules, as well as ignored a series of deficiencies and improprieties in the Hard Rock group’s license application.

The commission last month also denied the Argosy’s request to renew its state gambling license, though it did not set a closing date for the floating casino.

In its latest filing to stop construction of the Hard Rock casino, Penn National argued that it was likely to prevail in its lawsuit.

“If the (commission) is going to truly provide a fair hearing and process regarding the illegal revocation of Argosy’s license, then it should be a logical step to temporarily stop the Hard Rock Casino project from moving forward,” Penn National said in a written statement. “Any other action would result in a sham of a proceeding for the Argosy.”

An Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission administrator declined to comment on Penn National’s latest request.

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