Investors push for Linn County casino - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Investors push for Linn County casino


Local businessman and investor Steve Gray announced he is leading a group of local investors who are actively pursuing bringing a casino to Linn County.

In 2003, Linn County voters said no to a riverboat casino. 

Now more than eight years later, a group of 22 investors led by Gray think now is the time to bring a casino to the area.

"We are the second largest market in the state.  We have a lot of money that leaves this county every day every week somewhere else, and I think it could be very beneficial to the community to and redevelopment efforts to create those jobs here." Gray said.

Third party analysis that surveyed voters projects the group does have enough support to push the casino forward.

Extensive analysis also finds the $80-$100 million project will add more than 350 jobs, and bring in an extra $200 million to the area over the first ten years of operation.

With the project being completely privately funded, it's something county officials initially like the sound of.

"This would be a major employer within Linn County and would also distribute quite a bit of money into the community through non-profits as well as to the city and counties so that we could do more with less tax payer dollars," said Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers.

But with so many casinos already established close by, like Riverside to the south and the Isle to the north in Waterloo, some believe there's no room in the market for a new casino.

"When you take 20 to 25 percent of our revenue away, that's basically our profit. So yeah, it's definitely going to have a major impact on quality of our operation and the services that we offer here," said Dan Kehl, CEO of Riverside Casino and Resort.

The project still has many obstacles to overcome, including getting approval from the state's gaming commission and Linn County voters.

"I think it would be a great opportunity.  My concern is, is the area already saturated with gambling casinos?" said Tom Erceg of Cedar Rapids.

Linn County and Cedar Rapids city officials will sit down with the investment group early next week to potentially pledge support for the project in writing.

The project could be operational by 2016.


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