Iowa Casino’s Charitable Donations Go A Long Way To Help Local Communities

Written By Marian Rosin on August 26, 2022 - Last Updated on September 29, 2022
Iowa casinos mandated charitable contributions aid local charities

Greene County’s Wild Rose Casino & Hotel recently donated $5,000 to the Greene County Christian Action Center Food Bank. The donation came as a welcomed boost during a summer that was expected to present more need than usual.

Once a month, 130 area families can receive one week of food from the Jefferson ARC food bank. Shirley Haupert, Executive Director of the food bank, spoke appreciatively of the casino’s philanthropic action.

“Without great partners like the casino, our mission would be much more challenging.”

Travis Dvorak, Wild Rose’s General Manager, noted that the entire casino team was enthusiastically behind the donation. He also praised Haupert and the Jefferson ARC food bank for providing “a great service to families throughout Greene County.”

Wild Rose gives 5% of its adjusted gross gaming revenues to Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, a nonprofit that holds Wild Rose’s gaming license.

Cumulatively between 2015 and 2021, the Greene County Community Foundation received  $873,565 from Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, according to Greene County News Online.

On Apr. 5, Wild Rose Jefferson hosted Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation’s 7th Annual Awards Night for the first time since the pandemic started. Nearly $1.5 million in grants were distributed.  

Out of this year’s total based on 2021 revenues,  4.1% went to Greene County projects.

Grant recipients included:

  • Greene County and Paton-Churdon school districts
  • Greene County Community Foundation ($150,000)
  • $201,000 over three years to the Greene County Animal Shelter
  • $500,000 over four years to the Greene County Early Learning Center

As of 2018, Wild Rose’s charitable contributions totaled $1.4 million.

More Iowa casino philanthropy

Another Iowa casino to note for philanthropy over the years is Rhythm City Casino.

This July, Rhythm City Casino succeeded once more with its Donate and Play promotion. The casino raised $32,500 for Birdies for Charity.

According to Mo Hyder, the casino’s Regional VP and GM, Rhythm City has raised $82,755 for Birdies for Charity since 2019. John Deere covers the administrative costs.

Birdies for Charity gives 100% of any monies raised through donations to local charities and has done so since 1993.

In May, again through its Donate and Play promotion, Rhythm City donated $36,500 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Rhythm City praised Make-a-Wish for its “steadfast devotion to its incredible mission “of granting wishes to critically ill children.

Yet another casino, the Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort is partnered with a non-profit foundation that helps fund various local projects.

Iowa mandates casinos make charitable donations

Some states, including Iowa, mandate that casinos donate some of their revenues to local charities. Some states even have the requirement built into their licensing requirements.

And some have charitable plans in which employees donate a portion of their paychecks to charities of their choosing; the employer matches that amount.

Some sites note as blueadvocado.org did a decade ago, that charitable giving may serve a public relations function.

At the time, a University of Nevada casino industry expert maintained that:

“Most giving is done for pragmatic reasons, such as community support in areas where they have casinos [that are] trying to overcome the negative stigma associated with gambling by making . . . targeted contributions.”

Casino contributions aid Iowa’s food insecurity

Feeding America, a nonprofit, defines food insecurity as “a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life.”

The Wild Rose Casino food bank donation was very welcome at a time when food insecurity in Iowa seems to be rising. This May, according to KTVO, the Food Bank of Iowa “surpassed the amount of food it handed out in the beginning of the pandemic.”

Wild Rose recipient Jefferson ARC’s Haupert told Iowa Select Farms, referring to Iowans needing food help:

“Our numbers have definitely been going up. Of course, it’s the economy, but even people working good jobs are struggling right now. People don’t always want to come here, it’s a pride thing, but sometimes they just don’t have a choice. They can’t make it alone.”

Publication Corp.’s Iowa Stops Hunger initiative convened a panel of experts to speak on food insecurity in Iowa. Some of the info that came out is that:

  • 37% of Iowa households could be food insecure
  • Food insecurity is found in every county in Iowa
  • Some food insecure people land in a “doughnut hole”. Having an income that’s above the Federal Poverty Level renders them ineligible for the help that they need.
  • The pandemic pushed Iowa’s 10% insecurity rate to a projected 14.9% rate.

Panelist Linda Gorkow, Executive Director of the Iowa Food Bank Association, echoed Jefferson ARC’s Haupert, saying that Iowans are:

“Very prideful people. It’s hard sometimes to ask for food. We don’t want people to think there is shame in that.”

Where to get or give food bank help in Iowa

The Greene County Resource Action Center Food Bank is located at 1006 North Vine Street in Jefferson. They welcome monetary and nonperishable food donations, as well as volunteers.

The Food Bank of Iowa is located at 2220 E 17th St, Des Moines. Call them at (515) 564-0330 or visit foodbankiowa.org to find a local food bank.

Monetary and nonperishable food donations are welcome here, too, as are volunteers.

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