Another Iowa casino is planning multi-million dollar renovations this year.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) approved remodeling plans during its meeting Thursday for Grand Falls Casino near Sioux Falls, SD.
Developers expect Phase 1 of the Larchwood, IA, project to cost about $2 million. Construction will likely begin in September and be completed by the end of November.
Phase 2 will focus on the restaurants and the front of the casino. Construction will likely begin early next year.
The total budget for this project is about $8 million.
IRGC administrator Brian Ohoriko said the Grand Falls changes reflect a “significant capital investment back into their property.”
“That’s right on the heels of them putting in another hotel tower and doing some work with their RV park. It’s always nice to see Iowa facilities reinvesting into their properties and doesn’t matter where that’s located. That’s a good thing for for our state. It was something that we were happy to see (Thursday).”
Larchwood is in the far northwest corner of Iowa near the state line.
The IRGC approved an estimated $2.2 million upgrade for Lakeside Hotel and Casino in Osceola just a month ago. The casino plans to convert a gift shop into a coffee shop. Ohoriko said customers could expect some refreshed restaurant areas as well.
Do casino expansions help Iowans?
When Iowa authorized the Pari-mutuel Wagering Act in 1983, it opened the door for the first legal wagers in the state. Starting in May 2004, Iowa lawmakers asked regulators to keep an eye on the social and economic impact of gambling.
Iowa Code requires the IRGC to conduct a survey to measure the socio-economic impact of wagering in Iowa every eight years. Thursday, commission members selected a pair of vendors to conduct the analysis. Previous studies were conducted in 2005 and 2013.
Spectrum Gaming Group and The Innovation Group won bids to conduct the 2021 study.
“The socio-economic impact study is important. It does two things: It really looks into the socio-economic factors for Iowans — just trying to better understand gambling in communities and how it impacts people who live and work in those communities.
“There’s also a second component that looks at the economic factors and just the general overall health of the Iowa casino industry. Right now, that’s kind of important. We’ve had some ups and downs with COVID. And then kind of coming out, having really, really good numbers — for a good period of time right now. And then we’re also looking at new gaming in Nebraska. So, people are curious to see how that may impact Iowa gaming purely from an economic standpoint. So it will look at both things.”
Ohorilko said the study should wrap up by the end of the calendar year. The public record will be available for anyone to review.