Iowa gaming regulators approve Hard Rock licensing deal

From the Sioux City Journal, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has approved a licensing agreement that permits developers of a downtown Sioux City casino to use the Hard Rock name.

Under the deal, SCE Partners, which is building the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, will pay at least $1.5 million per year in franchise fees to HRHH IP LLC.

HRHH IP, an affiliate of real estate management firm Brookfield Asset Management, holds rights to license Hard Rock casinos and hotels west of the Mississippi River.

The deal would protect the Sioux City property by preventing any other Hard Rock casino or hotel from opening within a 100-mile radius of the downtown site, or a 20-mile radius of the Old Market area in Omaha.

Terms of the licensing deal were first disclosed as part of SCE's application for a state gaming license. In April, the IRGC voted 3-1-1 to award the license to SCE and its local nonprofit sponsor, Missouri River Historical Development.

The licensing agreement, which covers 20 years, with two, five-year renewals that could be exercised by either party, calls for a graduated licensing fee, starting at 2 percent for the first $75 million in annual gross casino revenues, or a minimum of $1.5 million.

The Hard Rock venue has a 30,000-square-foot casino, a 60-room Hard Rock-branded hotel, a live entertainment venue and multiple food and beverage options. The $128.5 million project is projected for completion next summer.