Bernie Goldstein, one of the founders of Isle of Capri Casinos and a pioneer in riverboat gambling, passed away from cancer on July 12. Goldstein was known as a consummate businessman in any venture he was involved in. Gambling was the industry he chose as his second career after coming out of retirement.
He had spent 40 years turning his father’s small scrap-recycling business into a huge interstate enterprise. Along the way, he created several more businesses related to that including Alter Barge Line, Rock Island River Terminal and Blackhawk Fleet. He retired to Boca Raton, Florida but that didn’t last long.
His post-retirement passion was riverboat gambling and Goldstein lead the fight to get riverboat gambling legalized in Iowa. He started with his first gambling boat, the Diamond Lady, out of Bettendorf and another, the Emerald Lady, in Keokuk. The gambling limits in the state made it difficult to compete with the lower limits in nearby Illinois and in 1992, Goldstein relocated both gambling boats to Biloxi, Mississippi.
Once the limits were finally lifted, Goldstein did bring riverboat gambling back to Iowa. He continued to build up the business that was to become the Isle of Capri Casinos to include 14 casinos across five states. The Isle of Capri currently operates 17 casinos.