Commission votes no on Linn County gambling license, again

For the second time in three years, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted no on a Linn County, Iowa gambling license, citing similar market studies as in 2014 that reportedly determined that a casino in Cedar Rapids would cannibalize other nearby casinos.

While the 3-2 vote was still a defeat, it was, however, closer than the one three years ago when the commission voted 4-1 against the license.

According to TV news station CBS2/Fox 28, after the vote, the following statement was issued by Wild Rose Casino and Resort: “We believe that our proposal struck a delicate balance in terms of offering long-term benefits to Cedar Rapids and Linn County—entertainment; support for downtown hotels, restaurants, theaters, concerts and shops; and nonprofit funding—while also addressing the concerns articulated by the commission back in 2014.”

Meanwhile, The Courier reports officials with the Black Hawk County Gaming Association were elated to hear that the casino license was denied by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission for any of the three proposals for a Cedar Rapids casino.

The Waterloo-based gaming association, which is the nonprofit holder of the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo’s gaming license, had reportedly argued that the gaming market in eastern Iowa is saturated and that any one of the trio of casino proposals for Cedar Rapids would have an adverse effect on nearby existing casinos.

The Courier reports that for the Waterloo casino, which is located some 60 miles away, the cost to them, estimated by Black Hawk Gaming officials, would have meant a 17 to 20 percent or $1 million, drop in potential grant revenues annually.

In July this year, the Racing and Gaming Commission heard proposals for a casino in downtown Cedar Rapids. During the meeting, two applicants including the Cedar Rapids Development Group and Wild Rose Entertainment pitched three proposals to state 7BALL CC regulators for one gambling license.

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Two came from the former, one, the $196 million Cedar Crossing located along the Cedar River on 8 acres of vacant city-owned land. The larger of the two is similar to a bid from the Cedar Rapids Development Group that in a 4-1 vote was rejected by the commission in 2014 after an investigation found that any new gambling venue in Linn County would likely cannibalize business from nearby casinos including the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort.

The other, smaller plan, from Cedar Rapids Development Group, the $106 million Cedar Crossing Central, would replace the Five Season Parking Ramp on First Avenue E near the U-S Cellular Center and DoubleTree Hotel. While the third option from Wild Rose Entertainment, plans for a smaller “boutique” casino on First Avenue Southeast, next to the Skogman building and comes with an approximate $42 million construction price tag.