Gaming commission decides fate of future casinos - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Gaming commission decides fate of future casinos

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by John Wilmer

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission will meet Thursday to decide whether to grant additional gaming licenses. Five rural communities will offer proposals during the meeting, including Tama and Franklin counties.

Waterloo opened the Isle Casino just over two years ago and it has become a very profitable business in Black Hawk County. Those connected to the casino don't want to see those profits disappear.

According to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission the Isle casino had a gross adjusted revenue of almost $80 million this past fiscal year, up four percent from 2008 when the casino raked in $76.6 million.

Now whether rural casinos will work may depend on several items and could influence whether the commission approves licenses for casinos proposed in Franklin, Lyon, Tama, Wapello and Webster counties.

Members of the Black Hawk County Gaming Association say they believe the racing and gaming commission will do what's best for the state.

"We trust they will make the best decision for the state of Iowa. Personally we don't want there to be too many licenses because we recognize how important the revenue has been in Black Hawk County and we would hate to see that revenue pie sliced even thinner," said Beth Knipp of the Black Hawk County Gaming Association.

Supporters in all five counties argue casinos would give their communities a quick boost in employment and tax revenue.

Wes Ehrecke, President of the Iowa gaming association, wouldn't comment on the latest proposals, but he did point to annual revenues of about $1.4 billion at the 17 state-licensed casinos as proof of their success.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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