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Large Crowds of Minnesota Gamblers Flocking to Iowa

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Minnesota gamblers has been so brisk betting at the Diamond Jo Worth Casino in north-central Iowa that state casino gambling regulators approved plans Thursday for a major expansion project costing more than $20 million. During the 3 months since its opening, the casino has drawn 335,000 customers who have left behind nearly $17 million. Those figures are more than twice as much as industry researchers had projected, Diamond Jo General Manager Jesus Aviles told the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

"They all underestimated the revenue potential from Minnesota," Aviles said.

The casino is located along Interstate Highway 35, near Northwood, about four miles south of the Minnesota state line. More than 70 percent of the customers are coming from Minnesota, Aviles said. Aviles said other factors are also helping the Diamond Jo, especially a lack of nearby competition. The closest gambling casino to the north is Mystic Lake Casino, a tribal-owned gambling operation about 90 miles away near Minneapolis. In addition, Iowa casinos have certain table games, such as craps and roulette, that aren't offered at Minnesota's American Indian casinos.

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