September 18, 2015 by Douglas Burns
Wild Rose Jefferson’s initial monthly state filing shows that the casino pulled in $1.4 million in gaming revenue during its first half month of operations as 29,524 customers hit the gambling floor.
The casino opened July 13 so the monthly revenue filing accounts for an incomplete month. Wild Rose Emmetsburg posted $2.8 million in revenue for July, according to the state filing.
During July, Wild Rose Jefferson patrons gambled $16.3 million on 519 slot machines and $533,000 on 12 table games. The casino’s take of the slot-machine gambling stood at 8.22 percent (Horseshoe casino in Council Bluffs takes 10.96 percent and Prairie Meadows casino in Altoona takes 8.11 percent), according to Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission filings.
Wild Rose Jefferson paid $14,400 in city and county taxes in July.
And then there is the income associated with food and hospitality, the factors that lifted the casino to state approval last year, said Brian J. Ohorilko, administrator of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
“That was the thing I really took out of it,” he said.
Wild Rose employees Friday were busy preparing for a full weekend of weddings and events as state officials toured the gaming-and-entertainment complex.
“It’s a great additional space for the community,” said Terry Rich, president and CEO of the Iowa Lottery — and a 1970 Jefferson High School alum.
The lottery is considering some joint marketing ventures with the casino.
Rich visited the casino with Ohorilko and former Greene County state Rep. Rod Roberts of Carroll, now director of the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals. Roberts wanted an up-close look at the state’s newest casino. His department oversees gambling in Iowa through the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, and Roberts negotiates the gaming compacts with the Native American tribes that run casinos in Iowa.
Mike Couch, general manager of Wild Rose Jefferson, led the tour.
Couch said the focal point of the casino floor is the circular bar. The games are set up to flow around in fan-like fashion around the bar area to make them more inviting — a different set-up than other casinos with long, straight banks of slot machines.
Couch said about 50 percent of the employees at Wild Rose are from Greene County. He also showed the state officials the ventilation system, one that uses a false floor in the casino to push air up and circulate it more rapidly.
The back area of the casino, not open to visitors, houses, among other things, three officials from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and one from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, who help casino security oversee operations.
Roberts said he expects gaming to evolve with technology and predicts Iowa lawmakers will approve “fantasy” sports gambling, an increasingly popular form of gaming in which participants select rosters from a variety of sports, but don’t bet on just one team, one game or one player.
It’s possible that such gaming could be confined to casinos in Iowa through limiting Internet access to it to casinos in Iowa, and creating fantasy sports-betting cafes or areas.
Wild Rose Jefferson officials also are eyeing the introduction of off-track betting — OTB — on horse and dog races from around the nation in the Jefferson casino. The OTB would be located in part of what is now the Coaches Corner restaurant and bar, Couch said.
Courtesy of Douglas Burns, the Daily Times Herald 9/18/15, Guthrie Center Times 9/9/15.