Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2013, 10:20 pm

Jumer's dominates Q-C gaming scene

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By Stephen Elliott,

Jumer's Casino Rock Island dominated the Quad-Cities gaming scene again in 2012, gaining in adjusted gross revenue for the fourth year in a row and easily outdrawing the two Iowa-based casinos.

The Rock Island casino at Interstate 280 and Illinois 92 recorded $87.871 million in adjusted gross revenue for calendar year 2012, according to the Illinois Gaming Board.

The Isle of Capri-Bettendorf took in $75,115,172 and Rhythm City Casino in Davenport -- which the city is attempting to buy -- took in $50,484,125, according to figures compiled by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Both Iowa casinos are owned by the Isle of Capri Corp.

The numbers represent a considerable change of fortune for the three Quad-Cities casinos since 2008, when Jumer's moved from downtown Rock Island to its interstate location.

In its last year downtown, the Rock Island casino recorded $34.3 million in adjusted gross revenue, while Isle of Capri-Bettendorf recorded $95.6 million in 2008 and Rhythm City reported $56.6 million in adjusted gross revenue.

Jumer's 42,000-square-foot, $151 million facility opened in December 2008. In April 2011, Delaware North Companies bought it for $180 million from the Jumer family.

"Over the years, since we've come out here, certainly one would expect some growth," said Jumer's spokesman Bill Renk. "I do think, going into a fifth year of operation out here, it's good to know we're continuing to do better despite what might be happening with our competition, despite what might be happening with the economy."

Meanwhile, Davenport officials are in the midst of trying to buy Rhythm City Casino. A proposed purchase agreement calls for the city to buy the casino for $46 million.

Three potential developers have submitted plans to build and operate a land-based casino if Davenport does indeed purchase Rhythm City. Approvals are needed from the Riverboat Development Authority,which holds the license, and the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which issues the license.

Besides the three casinos, Illinois residents can now gamble in many bars. Video gaming machines are spreading rapidly. In addition to the 16 licenses awarded in Rock Island County so far, a further 79 county businesses have pending applications.

"Competition, it's just a fact of life," Mr. Renk said. "It just continues, in many respects. And it has gotten more intense."

One of the points of contention in Davenport is a casino location. Some favor a downtown location while others favor one on the interstate. Mr. Renk said he thinks every situation is different, but doesn't believe Jumer's move to the interstate took away from Rock Island's downtown.

"Jumer's and the casino played a very integral part of the renaissance of the downtown (Rock Island) in bringing it to what it is today," Mr. Renk said.

"We attended town hall meetings with merchant groups, and they supported our move to come out here.Certainly, we didn't feel it was a negative impact on them."

As talks continue in Davenport for the purchase of Rhythm City Casino, Mr. Renk said there isn't a lot Jumer's can do.

"We don't have a voice in the process," Mr. Renk said. "That's Iowa, and we're over here in Illinois. We can't worry about what happens across the river.

"Competition will come," he said. "It's probably inevitable there will be new competition, or shall we say, a new look at what's going to happen across the river sometime.

"Is it a year from now? Two years from now? Does the Isle of Capri do something? In the meantime, things can change within the state of Illinois as far as competition," he said."We've held our market share, our lead on that. I think, for Deleware North, they saw the opportunity and believed growth was still possible."