Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 20, 2018

WEDG director believes CR casino will be denied

Oct 19, 2017

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


After attending the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission last week at the Wild Rose Casino in Emmetsburg, Washington Economic Development Group (WEDG) director Ed Raber doesn’t feel the commission will grant a license for a proposed Cedar Rapids casino when it meets next month.

Raber said the consultants had reported casinos are more “localized” than they have been in the past. He said the two consulting groups, 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.

“The point is do you want to throw to the wolves properties that you like and encouraged to developed that way to get another $30 million in revenue?” raber said.

The presentations were from Marquette Advisors and WhiteSand Gaming of Atlantic City.

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 next commission meeting is at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 in the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque.

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.

The reports are available on the commission’s website.

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