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Former Las Vegan eyes new Iowa casino

Oct 7, 2003 6:50 AM

Long-time Las Vegas casino executive Dual Cooper is a member of a gaming development group that has expressed an interest in putting a riverboat casino in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Cooper and his partners, Tom Stewart and Gary Armentrout, are doing business as Progressive Gaming International out of Shreveport, La. They recently visited the Linn County city to check out potential sites for a gaming property.

However, nothing can happen in the community until the voters of Linn County decide on Nov. 4 whether to permit a casino operation in their community. Also, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission must vote to lift a moratorium on new gambling licenses.

So far, only one proposal has been submitted for a riverboat casino in Cedar Rapids. That was from Grace Entertainment Inc. of St. Joseph, Mo., which identified the former Farmstead Foods site, south of the downtown area, as their preferred location.

Progressive Gaming said a better site would be right on city property along the river between Eight and 12th Avenue, S.E. The experienced gaming executives said the site would work for a casino because they believe the legislature will do away with the requirement that a riverboat casino has to cruise 100 days a year. Also, the location would allow the city to collect an annual lease payment.

Stewart was part of the executive team that opened the Casino Belle riverboat casino in Dubuque in 1991. His partner, Gary Armentrout, was vice president of gaming for The President riverboat casino in Davenport in the early 1992.

Cooper is a former executive at several properties in Las Vegas.