Will Cedar Rapids get a casino? Commission to decide in April - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Will Cedar Rapids get a casino? Commission to decide in April

Cedar Rapids Development Group Cedar Rapids Development Group

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission says it will vote on April 17 whether to give the Cedar Rapids Development Group a license for its proposed Linn County casino.

That announcement came Thursday morning at a commission meeting at Dubuque's Mystique Casino, along with a structured countdown to the casino's approval or rejection.

On Jan. 9, the Cedar Rapids Development Group will formally present its case for a casino license to the commission.

In early March, the results of two socioeconomic studies will be presented, looking at the possible positive and negative impacts -- both locally and statewide -- that a new Cedar Rapids casino might have.

This spring, commissioners will conduct a site visit and there will be an opportunity for public input.

Finally, on April 17, the commissioners will vote. Three of the five commissioners must say yes in order for the casino to become a reality.

The Cedar Rapids Development Group, headed up by Steve Gray, wants to build the new Cedar Crossing Casino near the downtown Cedar Rapids area, along the riverfront and I-380.

The group of more than 150 local investors has been seeking support for their project since last year. They say the casino would be a $165 million project that would bring more than 450 jobs in to Linn County.

On the other hand, operators and owners of existing area casinos have expressed concerns a new casino would oversaturate the market.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission hasn't handed out a casino license since 2009. That's when it conducted two studies on the feasibility of adding more casinos to the state's gaming market.

At that time, the studies found Iowa was fully served, and commission members elected to not consider any new licenses for three to five years.

In March, Linn County voters had a record special election turnout, where they voted some 60 to 40 percent in favor of the new casino.

Investors say if all goes well, a commission-approved casino could open in 2016.

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