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May 25, 2005

Fast shuffle, fast deal, equals plucked innocents

The Isle of Capri's ace in the hole, in its riverfront game with Davenport, is that it's ugly.

Yup, a lot of folks are willing to go along with moving the boat a block upstream and building a hotel-parking ramp next to it just so they don't have to look at the current mess any more. Understand, they don't like being told it's this or that, but given the choice...

Empathy for that viewpoint is easy. Rhythm City is a garish barge surrounded by parking lots, and the picture being painted is a hotel that architecturally reflects the Figge and the skywalk, all connected by green space. Pretty picture, actually, if you can get past the fact a hotel/parking ramp doesn't belong there.

Course, though, the hotel/parking ramp HAS to be there, 'cause gamblers are lazy. Walking a block is way too much work, and three blocks -- what? Are you crazy?

If gamblers weren't so danged lazy we could tear up the parking lots now, and the displaced cars could land in those fine new and empty-looking ramps we already have just a short block from the boat.

If gamblers weren't so danged lazy, the IOC could spend its $25 million fixing up the Black Hawk Hotel, which it already owns and which is barely three blocks from the boat.

Yup, if gamblers weren't so danged lazy, parkin' and sleepin' could easily be provided, no riverfront hotel needed. Slap a new coat of paint on the Rhythm City, maybe even move it a block, and, hey, life'd be good.

We could try marketing to the the un-lazy gamblers; must be at least some who don't mind walking a block. In a region increasingly full of the same old boat-and-a-hotel offerings, it could be a differentiation thing for the promotion department to work with.

IOC's convinced that wouldn't work, though. They know gamblers and gamblers don't want to walk.

So here we are, stuck with a proposal to give lazy gamblers a prettier casino, and our partner in the deal is busy creating competition elsewhere for our joint enterprise. Oh, and flashing that hole card, kinda yellin' at us to hurry up and say OK by next week, or face life with ugly on the riverfront for the next 90 years.

I'm smelling bluff, and I hope the city council does, too.The alderpeople asked a lot of good questions when they first saw that 111-page agreement a week ago, and a revision is to be presented to a council committee Thursday. Given all the convoluted twists and turns spotted in the first version, the new one needs to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb, too, and maybe further revised after a new round of question-and-answer.

There's city money involved, for all the protestions otherwise, and the alderpeople need to make sure they understand exactly what's in the pot before they throw in their hand. They've got a couple of aces in the hole as well, public ownership of the gambling license being one.

So far, we've seen a fast shuffle and a fast deal. In riverboat gambling, that's often a prelude to the pluckin' of the innocents.

John Beydler is news editor at Quad-Cities Online. Email johnbeyd@qconline.com.

Posted by jcb at May 25, 2005 03:40 PM


I agree the financing needs some real scrutinty. Why the casino needs any breaks at all is a mystery to me... Why it needs to be on the riverfront at all is a mystery, too. I predict Jumer's will end up doing better than the Davenport boat, once they move away from the river and next to the interstate!

Posted by: Anonymous at May 25, 2005 04:27 PM

Cars and parking lots will be replaced with green park space.

The casino will forego their property tax abatement and Davenport will
get an extra $1 million per year in tax revenue even after all
improvements have been paid for.

Davenport will get about 5 acres out from under the lease and back in
our control.

It will keep tourists coming to our downtown and infusing dollars into
our local businesses.

Posted by: Don't Blow It at May 25, 2005 11:54 PM

You make a very good point that gamblers are lazy -- perhaps that's why they gamble. They are trying to get rich quick --without working for it. I doubt that very many people really feel deep down that throwing money away is fun and recreational. They always hold out the hope that they could be the next one to hit the jackpot. Think how much better off they would be if they actually invested or even just saved that money.

Posted by: Guest at May 26, 2005 09:40 AM

So you are saying everyone who gambles is lazy? Have you ever played lotto? Have you ever bought a raffle ticket. Have you ever participated in a 50/50 drawing. Played bingo? All are forms of gambling. Gambling is entertainment. Do you ever go out and have a drink? Do you think throwing your money away on alcohol is fun and recreational? Maybe you should save your money.

Gambling is a form of recreation, a very popular form. Look at Vegas, AC, Mississipi, Iowa. People enjoy gambling.

Posted by: Anonymous at May 26, 2005 12:32 PM