More than $14 million in nonprofit donations and tax benefits tied to Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Jefferson has flowed to Greene County and its surrounding six counties in the six-plus years of operations, casino officials and local leaders told the Greene County Development Corporation during its annual dinner last week at the casino.
“This ongoing and growing amount has served Jefferson and Greene County and surrounding counties,” Wild Rose Jefferson General Manager Travis Dvorak said.
“We hope that you all approve of us again,” Dvorak said of the Nov. 2 election to re-up legalized gaming in Greene County.
The vote is required after the successful passage of gaming in 2013 by a record first-time “yes” vote of 75.1 percent. No counties in which Iowa’s state-regulated casinos operate have rejected a vote tied to an existing gaming facility. A simple majority is needed to pass the second and final referendum.
“When you vote in November, not only are you voting on black jack and slots and betting on your favorite sports teams — you are not voting on just a sports bar, cafe or restaurant, you’re not just voting on if you want to see big entertainment or if you want to have weddings or meetings,” Dvorak said. “When you vote, you vote for both short-term and long-term economic-development opportunities. You vote for funding that goes to cities and schools. You vote for tourism, as people from every county in Iowa and several countries visit our community.”
Iowa now has 19 state-regulated casinos, including three operated by Wild Rose in Jefferson, Emmetsburg and Clinton.
Peg Raney, a member of the Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, the nonprofit license holder for legalized gaming at the casino, and a pivotal leader in the effort to develop the casino in the last decade, noted that the board has strong representation from across the county.
Raney, secretary of Grow Greene, said it is a privilege for the organization to be part of impactful projects.
“Our organization’s vision statement is ‘Positively Growing Greene County For Families and Businesses to Thrive,’ ” she said. “We hope that you have seen this happen since Wild Rose opened in 2015.”
The nonprofit receives about $1.5 million each year from Wild Rose Casino, 5 percent of adjusted gross gaming revenues.
The money distributed to the contiguous counties has been extraordinary for public relations for Greene County, Raney said.
Many of the projects are designed to attract young people, notably the educational facilities in the county, Raney said.
“If (the referendum) doesn’t pass, all bets are off, so to speak,” Raney said.
Also keep in mind: Wild Rose has been paying taxes from Day 1, she said.
The casino has paid more than $3 million in property taxes during its existence. Greene County and the City of Jefferson also each receive 0.5 percent of the casino’s gaming revenue annually, amounting to more than $800,000 each since the casino opened in 2015.