Proponents say Cedar Rapids casino would bring in money - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Proponents say Cedar Rapids casino would bring in money

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    Area casinos are some of the biggest opponents to the proposed new casino in Cedar Rapids. The Black Hawk County Gaming Association worries the competition would fill investors' pockets rather than pump funding into local communities.More >>
    Area casinos are some of the biggest opponents to the proposed new casino in Cedar Rapids. The Black Hawk County Gaming Association worries the competition would fill investors' pockets rather than pump funding into local communities.More >>
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Cedar Rapids casino backers believe building the casino here would serve an under-served market and help rebuild a flood-damaged neighborhood.

"If you look at everything that is going on in Cedar Rapids and the opportunity to show the commission the west side of the river and what we can do for the entire Kingston Village area, it could be pretty exciting," said Steve Gray with the Cedar Rapids Development Group. 

However, two statewide market studies show there are no under-served markets when it comes to casinos in Iowa.

In fact, Marquette Advisors and Union Gaming Analytics found a Cedar Rapids casino would turn existing casinos into under-performing venues by taking away millions of dollars each year.

"The reality is, from the market studies, the only way a Cedar Rapids casino succeeds is if Riverside fails," said Dan Kehl, Riverside Casino CEO. 

"The issue of cannibalization is a big factor in our making a determination," said Jeff Lamberti, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commissioner. "It's not the only factor, but it's an important factor."

Now backers hope the commission will agree that the good outweighs the bad. The casino is expected to create hundreds of new jobs. Money would go to area charities.

And while the casino would likely take away a big chunk of funds from other counties, it would also lead to new gaming money -- more than $15 million per year.

"One big benefit for the rest of the state is that (a new casino) brings in more revenue to the state," said Ron Corbett, Cedar Rapids Mayor. 

The Cedar Rapids Development Group will get a chance to show the commission those benefits when they make a site visit on April 3.

The commission makes its final decision on April 17.
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