Washington Evening Journal
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Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 20, 2017

New casino would impact area casinos

Oct 13, 2017

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL

 

Ed Raber, director of the Washington Economic Development Group, said this morning that two impact studies that were presented to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Thursday both showed a new casino in Cedar Rapids would “cannabalize” other area casinos, with about half the revenues coming from the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort.

He said the presentations from Marquette Advisors WhiteSand Gaming of Atlantic City, which both studied the potential market impact, showed Riverside would be “devastated” by a new casino in the area. Raber also said the studies showed the market was saturated in the area and that a new casino would gain much of its revenue at the expense of other casinos, rather than generating a new market.

‘With the price of corn and soybeans down, the last three or so years have seen casinos become more local in nature, meaning people are probably not traveling the longer distances to gamble,” Raber said. “They might not be traveling longer distances to do much of anything.”

The commission received the reports during its regular meeting at the Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg. The decision on whether to grant a new casino license is expected Nov. 15.

Raber also said the studies showed a reduction in revenue to the Riverside Casino would probably result in cuts in employment. He said the reports, which actually stated the impact on the Riverside Casino would be less than projected when similar studies were done in 2013, would result in a “slippery slope.” He said loss of revenue would result in cuts inamenities, which in turn would result in the loss of more revenue.

He said in listening to some casino operators after the meeting, Raber said growth in Eastern Iowa casinos may have been less than one percent. The reports also showed the individual revenues over the last few years. He said Riverside’s revenues were shown to be “flat.”

“Riverside seems to be hanging on, I think because of the amenities they have, and the performance that people experience there,” Raber said. “They have managed to keep their revenues stronger than many casinos around the state.”

The proposals under consideration are:

 

• Cedar Crossing, a $106 million skydeck casino over the Fourth Street NE railroad tracks and attached to the Double Tree 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.

The reports are available on the commission’s website.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Oct 15, 2017 06:22
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