SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) — The owner of the Argosy Casino Sioux City riverboat says Iowa gambling regulators violated rules and ignored improprieties when they awarded another company a license to build a land-based casino.
Penn National Gaming said in a letter Wednesday that it is exercising its right under Iowa law to ask a state regulatory body to reconsider the decision made last month by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
Penn contends that the commission violated state law and Argosy's rights to due process. It also said the commission ignored deficiencies and improprieties in Sioux City Entertainment's application to build a Hard Rock-branded casino.
Penn said the commission selected a proposal that burdens local and state taxpayers. They said Sioux City Entertainment's application includes a request for $22 million in tax-increment financing from the city, while Penn is fully funded.
The commission selected the Hard Rock casino in a 3-2 vote on April 18. Penn submitted proposals for a Hollywood-themed casino either downtown or at a rural site. Ho-Chunk Inc. put in a bid to build the proposed Warrior Casino & Hotel.
In the letter, Penn attorney Mark Weinhardt described the commission's decision as unprecedented in the history of U.S. gambling and a “de facto revocation” of the Argosy's license.
“There is no other rational conclusion to draw from these circumstances other than that the commission's action is arbitrary and capricious, not supported by the facts, and contrary to Iowa law and the U.S. and Iowa Constitutions,” he wrote in the letter.
Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko said gambling officials are reviewing Penn's letter.
“We'll take a look at the letter and review the applicable rules and laws and try to make a determination as to what the next step should be,” he said.
The Argosy riverboat casino will keep operating until the completion of the Hard Rock casino, which is expected to open in July 2014.
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