UI Economic expert weighs in on proposed casino - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UI Economic expert weighs in on proposed casino

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

A flurry of activity Thursday at the polls as voters in Linn County weighed in on a proposed casino on the first day of early voting.  Voters from both sides showed up at the polls.

Both campaigns have been circulating TV ads debating the economic impact of a casino on the area.

"[There's] probably a little bit of truth from both sides," said University of Iowa Finance professor Dr. John Gallo.

Gallo knows about the economics of gambling from when he worked at the University of Nevada.

We asked him to shed light on some of the campaigns' claims.

The Yes campaign touts job creation.

Gallo agrees.  He says a casino would be an economic boost for the area by creating jobs and generating revenue for Linn County and Cedar Rapids.  In turn it could fund public services like schools.

"You're going to be brining in money to Linn County so this is from my standpoint a very positive for Linn County," said Gallo.

Meanwhile the No campaign's TV ad says a casino would hurt some local businesses. .

Gallo agrees.

Gallo believes some local businesses will be hurt by the new casino because some consumers will spend their money at the casino rather than at existing businesses.

 "You're going to be drawing people away from mostly bars and restaurants." Gallo said. 

Gallo also says numerous studies show the Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin gaming markets are saturated, meaning there's no more room in the market for additional gaming.

 A Linn County casino would take away business from neighboring facilities like The Isle in Waterloo. 

 "You're going to see a fight for market share and there's going to be a cost felt mostly by the existing casinos," Gallo said.

Early voting began Thursday ahead of the March 5th special election. If the vote passes in Linn County, then the proposed $80-$100 million venue would have to be approved by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.

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