In Iowa, a proposal for a $225 million casino and hotel complex at the Des Moines International Airport (DSM) has been presented by a development group that says the project would be “for its size, an unparalleled architectural masterpiece reflecting the ‘highest and best use’ of airport facilities.”

The Des Moines Airport Authority board heard the plan presented on Monday by the Highview Development Group, which is reportedly led by Reggie Sinha, president of business and development consultant firm, Sinha Strategies LLC, and also includes Wild Rose Entertainment, which would operate the casino.

Wild Rose Entertainment statement:

Founded by Des Moines entrepreneur, Gary Kirke, Wild Rose released an unsigned statement on Wednesday…

“Wild Rose Entertainment supports the Des Moines Airport Authority in its goal of making the Des Moines airport a world-class destination venue that better serves the air travel needs of the community and its visitors as well as acts as an agent for economic development,” as reported by the Des Moines Register.

“It should be noted that Wild Rose is not the first nor the only casino organization approached by Mr. Sinah and his Highview consortium. The company supports and is part of his efforts to put forth a creative solution to generate a long-term, continuous funding stream for the airport’s much needed improvements.”

Based in Des Moines, Wild Rose Entertainment currently owns/operates casinos in Clinton, Emmetsburg and Jefferson, Iowa.

Bellagio-style fountain:

The proposed development would reportedly include a 350-room hotel that would be connected to the airport and parking by skywalks and would feature a “dancing fountain,” a rock garden, restaurants and meeting and event facilities.

The airport board tabled the discussion until its meeting in February and invited Sinha to return to repeat his presentation for the full board. One board member was absent and another attended via teleconference. To date, Monday’s presentation has reportedly been the only formal response to a 2019 board issued request for proposals for projects to develop non-avaition areas of the Iowa airport.

After the meeting, airport manager Kevin Foley said…

“I know there’s a lot of controversy around [proposing a casino] and there are still some issues to be resolved by the proposers. Our position is that the board has an obligation to consider any proposal that would help close the funding gap for the new terminal project,” according to the Business Record.

Funding shortage:

Airport officials are looking to build a $500 million terminal, but are reportedly $194 million short, which the proposed casino could help mitigate. According to the Highview proposal, the proposed development is expected to generate $85 million annually and create 1,000 jobs.

This isn’t Wild Rose Entertainment’s first attempt to crack the Des Moines casino market, with Kirke’s $145 million Norwalk proposal in 2013 rejected by voters.

Prairie Meadows:

Located in Altoona, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, owned by Polk County and operated by a local, non-profit, 13-member board of directors, has, since it opened as a horse track on March 1, 1989, been the only legal gambling house in metro Des Moines. The venue added slot machines in 1995 after Polk County voters approved a referendum and in December 2004, Prairie Meadows added table gaming after receiving state approval.

In anticipation of the proposed legalization of sports betting in the Midwestern U.S. state, on January 16, 2019, Prairie Meadows announced a partnership agreement with bookmaker, William Hill. The sportsbook operation is up and running at the casino as is the mobile app.