On May 23, 2016, the Supreme Court of Iowa denied further review of the Iowa Court of Appeals’ ruling in Belle of Sioux City, L.P., v. Iowa Racing and Gaming Com’n. The Supreme Court’s decision follows the Iowa Court of Appeals’ March 23, 2016, affirmation of the district court decision upholding the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission’s award of a gambling license to SCE Partners, LLC and its non-profit partner, Missouri River Historical District (MHRD), to operate the Hard Rock Casino in Sioux City, Iowa. On appeal, Belle of Sioux City (who operated the former Argosy Casino riverboat) argued the IRGC violated an Iowa gaming statute (Iowa Code 99F.7(2)(c)), an administrative rule (Iowa Admin. Code 17A.18(2)), and Belle’s constitutional due process rights, when it granted a gambling license to SCE and MRHD to operate a land-based casino. The Grefe & Sidney team of Guy Cook, Patrick McNulty, and Joseph Moser successfully defeated Belle’s arguments on appeal, arguing that because Belle was no longer licensed to operate the Argosy Casino at the time of the new award, the IRGC correctly interpreted Iowa Code 99F.7(2)(c) to allow the new licensee to operate at a different site. The Court of Appeals also agreed Belle’s due process rights were not violated because Belle did not have a right to have its license renewed and it had been afforded numerous opportunities to be heard, including participation in a contested case hearing before the agency regarding the renewal of its license. Belle had not requested a contested case hearing with regard to the award of the new license itself. The Supreme Court’s decision to deny further review ended the three-year litigation.
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Belle of Sioux City, L.P. v. Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, No. 14-1158 (Iowa Ct. App. Mar. 23, 2016), reh’g denied, No. 14-1158 (Iowa May 23, 2016).