Now that voters have provided a resounding yes to gambling in Linn County, all focus shifts to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission.
"What's the strength of Linn County support? I think we sent a pretty strong message," casino investor Steve Gray said Tuesday night after the vote went final.
Hours after the polls showed 61 percent in support of Linn County gaming, KWWL sat down with current IRGC member Greg Seyfer.
"I think it sends a strong signal that Linn County supports a casino," Seyfer said.
Community support is one of 17 criteria the IRGC will look at- some factors like the local impact and financial support a proposed casino would have on a community are weighted more than others.
"The economics. The job creation. The amenities are all factors that are being considered," Seyfer said.
Then there's the overall impact on existing casinos and the net gain for the gaming industry .
"The commission's goal and mission is statewide," Seyfer said.
Area casino operators have voiced concern that the market is already fully saturated.
Last Friday Riverside CEO Dan Kehl said his business stands to lose more than 30 percent in revenue with the addition of a Cedar Rapids operation.
In 2009, the IRGC conducted two studies on the market feasibility of adding additional state casinos. One of the reports, while focused on Northwest and Central Iowa, found the Eastern Iowa market to be fully-served. At that time, IRGC members elected not to consider any additional licenses for three to five years after.
Now that it's been four years since, it is likely the commission will conduct additional in-depth studies through an independent firm on the market feasibility of Eastern Iowa.
The economic climate has since improved and casino investor Steve Gray has commissioned a market study since 2009. Seyfer believes it is possible a new study could show market growth.
"I believe there has been. I know that's one of the things that Steve Gray and Drew Skogman did early on is do their own impact study, and those showed them numbers that gave them enough belief to proceed," Seyfer said.
Investors have said it will be anywhere from four to six months before they submit an application to the gaming commission.
It is likely to take at least another six months before the IRGC makes a decision.
Meanwhile, a gambling referendum is scheduled in Warren County for May 7.
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