New deal with Casino Queen bringing in more money for non-profits in Clayton County

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CLAYTON COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -- A new deal at a northeast Iowa casino will bring in more money to help non-profits.

The Casino Queen in Marquette on Friday, November 8, 2019. (Charlie Grant, KCRG)

The Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation's 25-year deal with the Casino Queen, formerly called Lady Luck, in Marquette, ended this year. With the previous deal, the UMGC received 50 cents per person that walked through the casino's doors. Sindee Gohde, Executive Director for the UGMC, said in the new deal, the Casino Queen gives 3.25 percent of is adjusted gross revenue.

It may not seem like much, but Gohde said it will make a huge difference.

When the casino only gave 50 cents per head, the UMGC would average about $140,000 each year. That's money that it grants out to non-profits in Clayton County. With the 3.25 percent, however, Gohde expects its annual revenue to be more than $700,000.

"This is going to mean so much for our county," Gohde said. "You can’t even imagine the good things that we'll be able to do.”

The UMGC has granted money to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, St. Olaf Fire Department, and other organizations, but Gohde envisions this extra money helping out tourism efforts.

"You get more people into the county, this benefits everybody. They’re spending their money in the county, so this profits everybody," she said. "You get people going through, especially in Marquette and McGregor, if they will stop at the boat and spend a few dollars going through here, that means more money for us.”

Darla Kelchen, Executive Director of the Clayton County Development Group, said she could use extra money to improve her advertising strategy.

"There’s always goals and things that we can expand on. There’s a lot of activities here, and with the extra dollars it’s really going to help us," she said.

Kelchen said the chamber organizations in each community pool their resources to advertise all Clayton County has to offer. She hopes extra money will help attract more people.

“We’re excited and we’re always pleased to work with the Upper Mississippi Gaming Corporation," Kelchen said.

Gohde is excited for the future, too, and she encourages people in Clayton County to reach out to her to fill out grant applications. She can be reached via email at umgcgrants@alpinecom.net.