Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 18, 2018

Commission to meet Thursday on C.R. casino

Nov 15, 2017

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is expected to reach a decision regarding allowing the construction of one of three proposed casinos in Cedar Rapids which Riverside Casino & Golf Resort officials are concerned would steal business from Riverside.

The commission will meet 8:30 a.m. Thursday in the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque. Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) director Ed Raber is planning to attend the meeting and said he would inform The Washington Evening Journal as soon as a decision is reached on the Cedar Rapids casino. The information will be posted on the Washington Evening Journal website as soon as it becomes available.

After attending the Commission’s October meeting at the Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg, Raber doesn’t feel the commission will grant a license for a proposed Cedar Rapids casino. Raber said the consultants the commission hired to study the impact of the proposal had reported casinos are more “localized” than they have been in the past. He said the two consulting groups — Marquette Advisors and WhiteSand Gaming of Atlantic City — which each did reports on the projected impact of a Cedar Rapids casino on existing casinos, said people in the state seem to be traveling less to gamble. The appearance, which is different from previous studies done in 2014, is that casino revenue comes from a shorter distance.

“Riverside is local to Cedar Rapids,” Raber said. “It may take 30 minutes to get there, but it is just not that far.”

The reports showed that much of the revenue for a Cedar Rapids casino would come from the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort.

Raber also said the studies showed casinos in Iowa, since 2012, have seen a downward trend in revenue.

He said the Riverside Casino’s revenue is stable. The only casinos that are shown to be up are two land-based casinos that recently replaced riverboats in Sioux City and Davenport.

Raber said that in addition to the casinos, Riverside was also built on amenities such as the golf course and the hotel, that would be impacted by a new casino.

The proposals under consideration are:

• Cedar Crossing, a $106 million skydeck casino over the Fourth Street NE railroad tracks and attached to the DoubleTree Hotel, U.S. Cellular Center and a new parking ramp;

• A larger $169 million Cedar Crossing on the River would go just west of downtown, at First Street and First Avenue SW. This is the same casino proposal the commission rejected 4-1 in 2014;

• a $42 million “boutique” casino being proposed by local developers and executives from Wild Rose Entertainment, which has casinos in Emmetsburg, Clinton and Jefferson.

On April 17, 2014, the commission voted 4-1 against granting a casino license to the Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC.

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.

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