In May of 1983, the Iowa Legislature passed the Pari-Mutuel Wagering Act allowing qualified sponsoring organizations (QSO) to apply for a license to conduct Pari-Mutuel Wagering on horse and dog racing.

On July 1, 1989 Legislation was enacted allowing the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) to license QSOs to conduct gambling games on excursion boats in a county where the voters approve a proposition by referendum. 

Lee and Des Moines County voters approved such a referendum on August 22, 1989. The first QSO was the Southeast Iowa Regional Authority which partnered with Steamboat Southeast to operate the Emerald Lady which served the communities of Burlington, Fort Madison, and Keokuk.  Excursion gaming began on May 10, 1991.  In July of 1992, the Emerald Lady ceased operations. 

But a subsequent QSO, Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission (SIRRC) partnering with Catfish Bend Casino, received a license from the IRGC on January 20th, 1994.  That spring, the Legislature approved changes in the gaming law that removed certain restrictions on gambling boats; however it also required that if a majority of the county electorate approved the gambling proposition then that proposition would have to be approved each subsequent 8 years.   

SIRRC was formed as a 9 member commission with 3 representatives appointed by each of the 3 sponsoring organizations: The Keokuk Convention and Visitors Bureau, Fort Madison SIRRC, and Burlington Area Development Commission (now known as Grow Greater Burlington). The purpose of SIRRC is to act as a ‘pass through’ agent for the gaming revenues from Catfish Bend Casino to the 3 sponsoring organizations. Each receives 32% of these monies, with the Counties of Lee and Des Moines each receiving 2% per month.  By agreement, Catfish Bend Casino pays 3.157% of its monthly gross revenue to SIRRC.

SIRRC’s regular meetings are on the 4th Tuesday of January, April, July, and October.


Letters of Appointments
Fort Madison SIRRC

Grow Greater Burlington

Keokuk Convention and Tourism

About Us

The Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission is formed by 9 board members that meet quarterly. 

Our Vision

Southeast Iowa Regional Riverboat Commission