DRA pledges $410,000 in additional funds, bringing total nonprofit support to $1 million in 2020

The board overseeing Dubuque’s two casinos on Tuesday approved the allocation of an additional $410,000 for area nonprofits, a decision that brings its overall charitable contribution to $1 million in a year defined by economic woes and an ongoing pandemic.

The Dubuque Racing Association Board of Directors unanimously approved the allocation during its monthly meeting, which was held virtually on Tuesday afternoon.

The decision comes about one month after the same entity pledged $590,000 to local organizations directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

DRA Board Chairman Gary Dolphin noted that the latest allocation means the organization will be able to follow through on its promise to set aside $1 million for charitable organizations in 2020.

“This gets us to that coveted number that we look to reach at a minimum ever year,” he said. “Not only are we able to help out those impacted directly by COVID-19, but we are able to help other nonprofits and civic-minded groups.”

The DRA is the nonprofit license holder for both Dubuque casinos.

Utilizing profits from both casinos, the board allocates dollars to charities on an annual basis. In May 2019, for instance, the DRA awarded $1.1 million to 129 local nonprofits.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forced the DRA to delay this year’s grants, however.

The additional $410,000 in funding was initially ticketed for capital improvement projects in 2020. However, in a year marked by economic slowdowns, such projects diminished considerably and the money was able to be reallocated, according to Q Finance Director Bill Eichhorn.

“It is a great pleasure that we are able to do this at this time,” said Eichhorn.

While the previous $590,000 was set aside specifically for organizations impacted by the pandemic, the allocation of the $410,000 will be distributed in a manner that more closely mirrors the traditional, annual allocations from the DRA.

DRA Director of Grants Kathy Young said the funds will be distributed at some point this winter, but noted a precise timetable has not yet been established.

The DRA’s commitment of additional funds came on the heels of a rough performance in the month of October.

Q Casino reported just under $3.80 million in gaming revenue last month, compared to $3.97 million in October 2019. At Diamond Jo Casino, gaming revenue was $5.40 million in October 2020, down from $5.94 million in the same month the prior year.

Casino officials attributed the continued gaming decline to the ongoing pandemic.

“It is of no surprise that just about all of our numbers are down,” Q Casino CEO Jesus Aviles said.

Q Casino General Manager Brian Rakestraw was realistic about how the property would fare as it geared up for the winter months.

“We don’t see it getting any better in the coming months, although we do try to stay optimistic,” he said.