Riverboat Gambling Pioneer, Dubuque Native Kehl Dies

The Mississippi Belle II in Clinton, one of Bob Kehl's riverboats. (file photo)

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By Richard Pratt

DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — A former Dubuque cafe owner who was granted the nation's first riverboat gambling license has died.

The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald reports that 78-year-old Bob Kehl died at home on Wednesday morning shortly after being released from a hospital after a long stay.

Kehl and his wife, Ruth, were restaurateurs and caterers who began operating riverboats in 1973. The Kehls made headlines in 1990 when were granted an historic riverboat gambling license. They launched the Casino Belle, a 2,000-passenger boat from the port of Dubuque, a year later.

Kehl was also founder and president of Kehl Riverboats, which built and renovated 13 floating casinos.

The Egelhof, Siegert and Casper Westview funeral home says a visitation for Kehl will be held Friday at the Kehl Center at Clarke University.

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