Don Hoth, chairman of the Black Hawk County Gaming Association, had been working on getting a casino for four six years.
On Saturday, Hoth will participate in the ceremonial first slot pull at a VIP reception for the opening of the Isle Casino and Hotel at Waterloo, Iowa.
"I think when June 30 comes, I will be on an emotional high. It will be a very emotional day for me, and I hope I don’t cry," he said. "It’s like having a six-year gestation period."
The Isle opens at 7 p.m. Saturday. Isle of Capri Chairman and CEO Bernard Goldstein will participate, and a former Iowa sports personality not yet disclosed will cast the ceremonial first dice throw.
The casino is a sight the likes of which the Cedar Valley hasn’t seen. Nor has Isle of Capri Casinos, the operator.
"With all of the casinos that we have on our portfolio, there’s not a property that compares with it," casino general manager Kim Hardy said.
"I don’t think there’s anything really in the state that compares. It’s exciting. It is just gorgeous," Hardy added. "This just gives us a great competitive edge. We’ll be able to compete with any other casino in the state."
"Adventures in Parrotdice," a Jimmy Buffet tribute band, will perform opening night. Visitors will be greeted at the entrance with a spectacular two-story water feature and other visual effects, giving the casino its tropical ambiance. The frame for the water feature was put together by Fusion Glass Designs, a company in England.
Officials anticipate the gaming floor, hotel and restaurants will be open with the exception of Farradays Signature Steakhouse, expected to open in late July. Also open will be Tradewinds Marketplace, which includes a Pizza Hut, KFC, Iowa Scoops Ice Cream shop and an Any ”˜Wich Way sandwich shop.
The project was a massive task, requiring a $175 million investment and about 335,000 square feet. About 1,110 slot machines, including more than 70 video poker machines, will light up the four corners of the casino floor, while 35 table games will fill out the middle. Those games include craps, fortune blackjack, rapid roulette, fortune pai gow and poker.
Floors three through nine hold 195 hotel rooms, including 27 suites.
A special promotional event will run July 15 through Aug. 12. The last day culminates in a grand prize drawing and fireworks display.
Those promoting the project believe the wait will be worth it.
Hoth first proposed the idea in 2001 as a mayoral candidate.
"I think it’s going to be fantastic," he added. "People are really going to be surprised once it’s open and they get in there. This is a very nice hotel and casino."