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Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close this summer; hopes court challenge will save it

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa — A Sioux City riverboat casino is preparing to close its doors this summer, but is hoping a court fight will save it.

The Argosy Sioux City officially notified the Iowa Workforce Development agency on Friday that the 300-employee floating casino likely will close by July 1, the Sioux City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1gUJBWV) Saturday. That notice followed a vote Thursday by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for the casino to close down by July 1.

The notice allows Argosy to comply with the federal law that requires employers with more than 100 workers to provide at least 60 days' notice of a workplace closing or mass layoff, Iowa Workforce Development spokeswoman Kerry Koonce said.

But Argosy parent company Penn National Gaming has vowed to ask a judge to suspend the commission's order, which would allow the boat to remain open while the company pursues a series of legal challenges against the state gambling commission.

The Argosy's pending closure stems from the commission's decision to allow a land-based casino in downtown Sioux City to replace the Argosy. Penn National lost its bid to operate the land-based casino to Sioux City Entertainment, which is building and will operate a Hard Rock Casino.

Koonce encouraged Argosy workers, even if they expect to land a job at the Hard Rock Casino, to file for unemployment benefits. To be eligible, Argosy workers would need to stay at the boat until the closing date. If they quit, she said, they're not eligible for benefits.

Because it would involve a shuttered facility, the Argosy workers would be eligible for up to 39 weeks of benefits, beyond the normal 26 weeks, she said.


Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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