About Elite Casino Resorts

Gaming License

Washington County Riverboat Foundation

The Washington County Riverboat Foundation is the non-profit license holder for Riverside Casino & Golf Resort®. The Washington County Riverboat Foundation provides significant financial resources to non-profit organizations and local government to complete important projects to make Washington County, Iowa a better place to live and work.

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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 steamwheeler, “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 Virginian 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.

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

The Kehl’s 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.

Today, the Kehl’s have 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, and Rhythm City Casino Resort®, which reopened in 2016. 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.

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

Joel Westra

Joel Westra

Chief Technology Officer

Donyelle Devore-Kemp

Donyelle Devore-Kemp

Chief Marketing Officer

Dan Franz

Dan Franz

General Manager

2017 State & Local Tax Fee Revenue


State and Local Tax Revenue

Total Taxes Paid: $20,223,333