About Elite Casino Resorts Walker's Bluff Casino Resort - Carterville, Illinois - Walker's Bluff Casino Resort

About Elite Casino Resorts

The Kehl family business started in the 1960's when Bob and Ruth Kehl bought and ran a café in downtown Dubuque, Iowa. By the 1970's they were also in the catering business and had purchased a 150-passenger steam wheeler, "River Rogue" for dinner cruises.

In 1977, the Kehls commissioned a 377-passenger "Spirit of Dubuque." The Mississippi Belle and Mississippi Belle II followed in the 80's. In 1986, the business expanded to West Virginia with the West Virginia Belle, a 1000-passenger boat.

Hard work creates success. Bob and Ruth Kehl received the National Small Business of the Year Award from President Reagan in 1986, beating out Microsoft for the honor.

It's no secret the Kehls were opposed to the idea of gambling on the rivers when the idea was floated in the Iowa Legislature in the late 1980's because of the threat to their riverboat business. They soon figured out gambling was likely coming. No one was in a better position to be part of this new industry.

The Kehl family has been involved in gaming since its inception in the state of Iowa. On March 8, 1990, the Dubuque Casino Belle, Inc. owned and operated by Robert and Ruth Kehl, was granted the first riverboat gaming operator's license in Iowa and the license was issued on April 1, 1990. The Dubuque Casino Belle became the first American-flagged vessel to offer gambling cruises in the United States.

The Kehls received their second license in 1991 for the Mississippi Belle II, which started riverboat gaming operation on June 1 in Clinton, Iowa.

The Kehls had interest in and operated a total of four riverboat casinos in the Midwest; Dubuque Casino Belle, the Mississippi Belle II, Catfish Bend Casino, Fort Madison/Burlington, Iowa and Saint Joe Frontier Casino, St. Joe, Missouri. When land-based casinos were licensed in 2004, the Kehls led the Iowa gaming industry forward, opening Riverside Casino & Golf Resort in 2006 and Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in 2011.

The Kehl family maintains majority ownership in Elite Casino Resorts, LLC, which owns and operates Riverside Casino and Golf Resort® in Washington County which opened in 2006, Grand Falls Casino Resort® in Lyon County, Iowa, which opened in 2011, Rhythm City Casino Resort®, which reopened in 2016, Grand Island Casino Resort, which opened in 2022, and Walker's Bluff Casino Resort which will open in 2023. Riverside received one of only four new Iowa gaming licenses awarded by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission out of ten applications in 2005. Grand Falls was the only license awarded by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission of four applications in 2010. In 2014, the Kehl's became owners of the existing Rhythm City Casino in Davenport and opened a land-based casino resort to replace the existing riverboat in June 2016.

Robert Kehl passed away in 2013, but his impact on Dubuque, the state of Iowa, and the modern gaming and tourism industry will be remembered for generations to come. Today, Ruth along with sons Bobby and Dan, keep the Elite Casino Resorts legacy going and built it into the leading regional gaming operator in the Midwest.

In 2022, the Kehls took their casino footprint outside of Iowa with two new casino projects in Nebraska and Illinois.

Grand Island, Nebraska at Fonner Park, Nebraska's Springtime Tradition is the Kehls first casino in Nebraska and opened as a temporary casino December 27, 2022, with the full resort to be completed in 2024. Walker's Bluff Casino Resort, their first Illinois casino, is located at the Walker's Bluff winery and will open in 2023.

The fruits of Robert and Ruth's labors have always been generously shared with others. As philanthropists, they have helped open the Kehl Diabetes Center of Unity Point Health-Finley, as well as the Robert and Ruth Kehl Center at Clarke University. Their legacy of philanthropy lives on in the company today.

Executive Leadership

Dan Kehl

Dan Kehl

Chief Executive Officer

Bobby Kehl

Bobby Kehl

Executive Director of Golf

Dan White

Dan White

Chief Financial Officer

Karlyn Ollendick

Karlyn Ollendick

Chief Operating Officer

Donyelle Devore-Kemp

Donyelle Devore-Kemp

Chief Marketing Officer

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777 Walkers Bluff Way, Carterville, IL 62918

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