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IRGC Once Again Turns Down Cedar Rapids Casino Projects

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) rejected the Cedar Rapids casino proposals for the second time. State regulatory body shared it was a difficult decision, especially considering the fact that it took in account that a casino project would probably be beneficial for Cedar Rapids.

So, despite the possible benefits such a project could bring to the region and the participation of qualitative applicants, the IRGC decided to make the same thing it did three and a half years ago – turned down the casino proposal.

The governor-appointed Commission, which consists of five members, voted 3 to 2 to deny all three applications for a downtown casino in Cedar Rapids. The commissioners who backed the proposal were the IRGC Chairman Richard Arnold and Dolores Mertz, of Algona. The rest of them – Kristine Kramer of New Hampton, Carl Heinrich of Council Bluffs and Jeff Lamberty of Ankeny voted against the proposal.

The same members of the Commission voted 4-1 against a casino back in 2014, with Dolores Mertz being the only supporter of the proposal at the time.

Cedar Rapids Downtown Casino Gets Rejected Twice

The local regulatory watchdog found the market too saturated, with one of the Council Bluffs’ commissioners, Carl Heinrich, saying he was not sure that a license application’s approval would be helpful for the state in any way. According to Mr. Heinrich, this was not the most appropriate time for changing the industry landscape, provided the fact that it was working well for the time being.

As mentioned above, all three applications for the casino, including a Wild Rose Cedar Rapids boutique casino and two Cedar Crossing projects got rejected by the Commission. The Mayor of Cedar Rapids Ron Corbett shared that the decision of the regulatory body was a big disappointment for the community, especially considering how much money and time was spent on the applications.

Although there has been some interest in another try for a Cedar Rapids downtown casino, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission actually did not indicated in any way if it was ready to grant such a license to one of the applicants. The current decision would mean that local residents would need to vote to continue the Linn County gambling referendum that is to expire in 2021.

Three Casino Proposals Were Considered

One of the proposals – the Wild Rose Cedar Rapids – was rolled out in September 2016. The casino project, estimated to $40 million, was to be built next to the Skogman Building and urged the IRGC to invite applications for a Linn County casino license.

As previously reported by CasinoGamesPro, the other two proposals were made by the Cedar Rapids Development Group in collaboration with Peninsula Pacific. The joint venture made a proposal for a $105-million Cedar Crossing Central which would have to be attached to the DoubleTree Hotel. The other casino project, called Cedar Crossing on the River, was estimated to $165 million and was pretty much identical to the proposal that was first rejected by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission back in 2017.

At the time when the watchdog rejected the proposal three and a half years ago, it pointed out that approving such a casino project would have unfavourable financial impact on rival casino operators in the region, and more specifically on the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.