The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission are considering granting Cedar Rapids approval for a new casino to be developed in the city. The move has been firmly opposed by numerous casinos in the state as they believe the Iowa casino industry is already saturated and adding a new casino to the market would negatively impact their business and cut down their revenues.
This is not the first time that gaming developers have considered building a new casino in Cedar Rapids. A push was made in 2014 and a number of proposals were sent in but in the end, the state gaming regulator decided against awarding Cedar Rapids a casino license on the basis that it would cannibalize revenue in the state. Casino developers have once again commenced a campaign to build a casino in Cedar Rapids and the gaming commission has decided to consider their proposals yet again.
There are two companies currently interested in developing a new casino in Cedar Rapids. The three operators have sent in proposals to the state gaming regulator confirming their interest in developing a casino in Cedar Rapids. The proposal also highlights which location the casino will be based in and how much money they plan to invest into the project. The commission travelled to all three of the proposed casino sites earlier this week and then held a public hearing to get the views of the local communities.
Cedar Rapids Casino Proposals
The first casino proposal comes in from Wild Rose Entertainment and is spearheaded by Gary Kirke. The company wants to develop a ‘boutique’ casino called Wild Rose Cedar Rapids and has chosen a site on First Avenue S.E. The total investment for this project is expected to be in the range of $40 million to $55 million.
The second casino proposal is from Peninsula Pacific led by Brent Stevens and the Cedar Rapids Development Group which is led by Steve Gray. The company has proposed to develop their Cedar Crossing Central casino on a skydeck that will linked to the U.S. Cellular Center and the DoubleTree Hotel. The total investment for this project is expected to be in the range of $105 million to $118 million.
The third casino proposal also comes in from Peninsula Pacific and Cedar Rapids Development Group. The proposal here is to develop a Cedar Crossing casino on the River on First Street S.W and an estimated $165 million to $187 million will be spent on the project. This casino proposal is very similar to the one that was rejected by the Gaming Commission in 2014. The Gaming Commission voted 4-1 against the proposal stating that it would negatively impact the gaming revenue of other casinos in the state.
Iowa Casinos Oppose Cedar Rapids License
Elite Casino Resorts chief executive Dan Kehl told the commission that the gaming market in Iowa has not changed during the last three years and the market continues to be flat. Elite Casino Resorts currently operates three casinos in the state. The company runs Grand Falls Casino & Golf Resort in Larchwood, Rhythm City Casino in Davenport and the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort. Kehl stated that if a new casino was developed in Cedar Rapids, a lot of staff would have to be made redundant at the Riverside Casino and urged the Commission to reject the Cedar Rapids casino license proposal.
Casinos in the Quad Cities, Waterloo and Tama also sent their representatives to meet with the Gaming Commission and voice their opposition to the Cedar Rapids casino license proposal. The casino representatives said that a new casino in Cedar Rapids would hurt the state’s gaming industry instead of helping it.
Cedar Rapids Residents Okay With Small Casino
However the majority of residents and small business owners in Cedar Rapids appear to be in favor of a small casino as they believe it will benefit their city by creating more jobs and boosting the local economy by bringing in more business and visitors.
Gaming Commissioner Jeff Lamberti said it was important for the Commission to visit all three sites as it helped with the decision making process. The Commission is expected to make a final decision before the end of November.

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