Campaign team looks to bring casino to Linn County ballot - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Campaign team looks to bring casino to Linn County ballot

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

The stakes are already high and there isn't even an issue yet to rally around.

"I believe this is a very attainable effort," said Marcia Rogers, communication director for the "Vote Yes Linn County" campaign.

That campaign has now taken to the streets promoting the value of bringing a casino to Linn County and looking to gather some 12,000 signatures necessary to bring the issue up for vote.

"It's really a democratically appropriate place to say let's bring this forward for vote and discussion," Rogers said.

An investment group led by businessman Steve Gray announced its plans to bring a privately-funded $80 million entertainment venue and casino to Linn County in early October.

Supporters say the facility would be an economic boost for an area now in rebuilding mode after 2008's flood.

"This might be the right time to bring in a casino and provide a lively form of entertainment to create all kinds of new jobs," Rogers said.

The Cedar Rapids Area Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors also voted to support the licensing of a casino in Cedar Rapids during its Nov. 30 meeting.

"The CVBBoard of Directors views a potential casino as an attractive addition forvisitors to our area," said board chairman Roy Nowers in a written statement. "This is anotherimportant step in our community becoming an even more attractive location tolive and visit."

Already some have begun to voice opposition.

University of Iowa health professor David Osterberg opposed a Cedar Rapids casino in 2003.

"Whether it's here in Cedar Rapids or in Riverside.  I'm always an opponent because it's not economic development," he said.

Osterberg says casinos create problems with addiction and force the cities that house them to invest further to police the area.

He expects an organized opposition should the issue reach the ballot.

A referendum could come about as soon as March if the necessary signatures are obtained and the Linn County Board of Supervisors gives the go ahead.

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