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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Six Facts I Learned about the Diamond Jo Casino

Traveling is an educational experience and I learn from each new destination. On my recent visit to Northwood, Iowa, I had the opportunity to ask questions about gambling operations at the Diamond Jo Casino.

I thought I knew enough about gambling to stay away from it except for the occasional short visit. Even then, I play the slots with a set amount of money and when that’s gone, so am I. I never liked making the casino richer and me poorer.

However, Scott Smith, the assistant general manager at the Diamond Jo Casino, shared some interesting facts and information.

First, I learned there’s a significant difference between privately owned casinos and those owned by Native American operations, which are tax-exempt. In contrast, the Diamond Jo sends almost a third of its revenue to Worth County Development Authority (5.7%) or taxes to the state of Iowa.

After learning how the Worth County Development Authority (WCDA) spends the funds, I could even feel good about losing some of my money in the casino.

For example, each graduating senior throughout the county receives approximately $6,700 for further education or training. The organization helps fund back-to-school expenses for children and school district projects. For example, each student has received either an iPad or Mac computer.

Other grants are awarded in community development, tourism, culture, arts and recreation. Since the casino opened in 2006, WCDA has awarded more than $35 million.

Second, the average length of each customer visit is approximately an hour and a half. Most customers come to “entertain themselves” and go home when they’ve spent their allotted funds.

Third, the Diamond Jo has an event center with a portable dance floor. They can host private events and corporate meetings. They offer free music events on an outdoor stage throughout the summer.

Fourth, the casino offers restaurants in varying price ranges to suit all customers. The Country Inn and Suites is connected to the casino. A Holiday Inn Express is located across the highway.

They also operate Pheasant Links, where guests can hunt or play golf.

Fifth, the casino is an excellent job source for local communities. The Diamond Jo is almost always hiring.  Their ideal staff size is 460 and they typically are short of that.

 Sixth, the casino is small enough that the staff gets to know their repeat customers.

Whenever I travel I-35 through northern Iowa, I plan to make a short stop. Who knows? I may even win some travel money!

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