Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 23, 2018

Commission discusses C.R. casino

Sep 26, 2017

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


CEDAR RAPIDS — Washington Economic Development Group director Ed Raber is on the agenda this afternoon to give input to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on a proposal to grant a gaming license to a Cedar Rapids developer.

This morning, Racing and Gaming Commission members planned to tour three proposed sites that two developing companies say casinos could be built. At 1 p.m. the commission will hold a formal hearing at the Grand Ballroom BC in the Hilton Cedar Rapids Convention Complex to gather input on the proposals. Raber said the decision would not be made until the commission’s meeting on Nov. 16 in the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque.

“It is not a decision day,” Raber said. “They will receive public comment. I am here and have already signed up to speak to encourage the commission to deny the gaming license for Linn County.”

Raber said the Washington County Riverboat Foundation has requested people who have received grants in the past correspond with the commission about their feelings on Linn County license. While he hasn’t seen anyone else from Washington County at the event yet, Raber is not sure if anyone else will give input at the meeting.

He said the order of events is different that when the commission voted on a Linn County casino three years ago. He said the public tour and listening session is being held today. During the racing and gaming commission’s next meeting, which will be held Oct. 123 at the Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg, the commission will receive two analyses of the economic impact of the casino. The decision is expected in November.

“Back in 2014, those studies came first, then we had public comment,” Raber said.

On April 17, 2014, the commission voted 4-1 against granting a casino license to the Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC. The group is proposing two of the three sites the commission is touring today.

Raber previously said the results of the studies were that if the Cedar Rapids casino were constructed, the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort could lose up to 40 percent of its revenue and would have to lay off 250 employees.

The Washington Evening Journal will speak with Raber Wednesday morning regarding how the meeting went.

Both Washington County and the individual cities share 0.5 percent revenue from the casino — about $400,000 each annually — which is used to offset property taxes.

The Washington County Riverboat Foundation also annually grants about $3 million to nonprofits.

The commission can be contacted through an online form on its website or by writing: Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, DMACC Capitol Center, 1300 Des Moines Street, Suite 100, Des Moines, IA 50309.

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