Developer of proposed casino offers Ankeny officials an out

Nov 19, 2012 10:32 AM

The developer behind a proposed $150 million casino at Ankeny is giving the city the option of bowing out of an earlier deal to support the casino.

Wild Rose Entertainment said Friday it will give Ankeny officials an opportunity to opt out of a contract the city and developer signed on Oct. 29. The contract says the city will support efforts by Wild Rose Entertainment to acquire a state license from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission necessary to open and operate the casino, which the developer plans to build near a new interchange on Interstate 35 in the Des Moines suburb.

The offer doesn’t mean an end to the proposed casino, Wild Rose spokeswoman Jamie Buelt told the Des Moines Register.

“We’re still going forward,” Buelt said. “Nothing has changed. ... (The agreement) just seemed to be generating controversy that didn’t need to be there.”

She said the company remains focused on Ankeny and is not pursuing another location.

But Wild Rose seems to be facing mounting opposition to the casino.

Within days of the agreement between the city and casino developer, several Ankeny residents began a petition drive against construction of the casino. And the public blowback led Ankeny City Councilman Mark Holm to renounce his support of the casino.

And the city’s Plan and Zoning Commission will not discuss the issue at its Dec. 4 meeting. Friday was the deadline to place items on the agenda.

The next deadline will be Nov. 30 for the Dec. 18 meeting.

Wild Rose says the casino would create about 600 jobs for the area and provide Ankeny with $500,000 to $800,000 in new revenue.

Iowa has 21 casinos in an industry that employs about 10,000 people with gross gambling revenues of more than $1.4 billion.

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