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Gaming Commission Rejects Bids for Cedar Rapids Casino

Joyce Russell, IPR

Iowa’s Racing and Gaming Commission, voting 3-2, Thursday rejected three applications for establishing casino gambling in downtown Cedar Rapids.

The action mirrors a similar rejection of a single application in 2014. That vote was 4-1.

Commissioners again cited the damaging effect that market studies predict a Cedar Rapids casino would have on existing Eastern Iowa casinos. The commissioners said Iowa’s casino gambling market is saturated and revenues are not increasing.

Commissioner Kris Kramer from New Hampton said, “Iowa’s second largest city had its chance and turned it down.”  She was recalling two Linn County referendums some thirty years ago that failed to authorize riverboat casinos, which were then authorized in the state.

Kramer also said rural Iowa is benefiting from casino revenue being distributed in communities. “If we change that to the larger city,” she said, “income would substantially decrease.”

Kramer continued, “They’re getting fire stations, they’re getting things for schools, libraries, ambulances, sports facilities. They wouldn’t have this advantage if they didn’t have the money from the non-profits (which hold the gambling licenses)."   

Kramer said one of the rejected Cedar Rapids proposals was, “real great, and would benefit Linn County, but would be devastating for what is already in place.”