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Argosy casino boat a success

20 November 2006

ALTON, Illinois – As reported by the Telegraph: " After a long process of obtaining permits and financing, a business unique to the Midwest opened 15 years ago on the city's riverfront.

"To say the then-Alton Belle Casino was a gamble would be an understatement. The operation was launched amid skepticism from city officials over its financing, public doubts about bringing gambling to Alton and, in general, questions about its potential for success.

"'No one knew how big it would be," said Don Retzlaff, an original hire and now director of casino operations for what is today known as Argosy Casino.

"…The riverboat casino launched a Midwest gambling era, the first of what would become five casinos in the St. Louis metroplitan area. Today, it faces competition in East St. Louis, St. Louis and St. Charles County.

"Despite that competition, the boat has remained a success, making millionaires of its founders and serving as financial savior of its host city. Millions of dollars are returned to Alton each year to pay for capital expenses and operations.

"Argosy's first 4 1/2 years were spent as a development company, pursuing gaming licenses andadditional locations and competing to expand, as more states passed referendums allowing gaming.

"…Of the 680 people who work at the boat, 63 of them are among those who started 15 years ago. Many of those who have moved on still work in the gaming industry…"

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