Vote Yes wins easily in Linn County Casino vote - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Vote Yes wins easily in Linn County Casino referendum


Linn County voters have spoken: The majority of them want a casino in the county. 

Vote Yes received 61 percent of the votes cast in Tuesday's referendum. Vote No garnered just 39 percent in the expensive special election.

The finals numbers show Vote Yes with 36,876 votes. Vote No received 23,391.

"This is not necessarily as much as a vote for the casino as it is a vote forward for Cedar Rapids and Linn County," said Steve Gray, casino investor. "There's an incredible amount of momentum. We've got a lot of great things going on in the community and this is another good step."

Despite snow in the early hours Tuesday voters still went to the polls. More than 19,000 early ballots were also cast.

"I was going to come in pretty much after the polls opened so I kind of thought I'd see how things went," said Lawrence Duenas, of Cedar Rapids.

"The community's important to me and I wanted to voice my opinion," said Andrew Hayward, of Cedar Rapids.

Almost 40 percent of the county's voters cast a ballot in the election, believed to be a record for a special election.

Investors in a Linn County casino say the project will be an $80-100 million investment that will bring 600 jobs to the county. They want to build it on the west side of the Cedar River near downtown Cedar Rapids.

During the campaign, a group called "Just Say No Casino" voiced opposition to the idea, citing a lack of a plan. They worked around the clock, trying to get voters to the polls. Ultimately it just wasn't enough.

"There's more to it than just the popular vote," said Scott Stines, "Just Say No Casino." "We'll do anything we can to prevent it because we know, we believe that it's not right for Linn County."

A casino is not a done deal. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission still has to approve a casino. Investors say it will take them four to six months to prepare their application..

Then it will take the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission several months to review that application. Investors say if all goes well they hope to open the casino in 2016.

On Friday, Riverside Casino & Golf resort Dan Kehl said if Linn County voters said no to a casino he would build a water park instead. If the commission does not approve a casino, Kehl may still build a water park.

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