Cedar Rapids casino opponents speak out - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids casino opponents speak out

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    Cedar Rapids casino supporters speak up

    Thursday, April 3 2014 6:50 PM EDT2014-04-03 22:50:16 GMT
    During a public forum Thursday one thing was clear: people on both sides are of the Cedar Rapids casino proposal are passionate. There's really a divide. Those who came from out of town are against the casino, those who live in Cedar Rapids overwhelmingly support the project.More >>
    During a public forum Thursday one thing was clear: people on both sides are of the Cedar Rapids casino proposal are passionate. There's really a divide. Those who came from out of town are against the casino, those who live in Cedar Rapids overwhelmingly support the project.More >>
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - We're getting down to the wire and people are running out of chances to tell the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission how they feel about a Cedar Rapids casino.

The supporters in the crowd at Thursday's public event were mostly from Cedar Rapids. Those from out of town are against the proposal.

A large group of Riverside Casino employees showed up for the event. According the casino's CEO, some of them will be out of a job if Cedar Crossing opens.

"Cutting jobs from Riverside and surrounding casinos will cause great damage to the families involved," said Dan Kehl, Riverside Casino CEO. 

It's not just riverside that would feel a pinch. Statewide studies show all of eastern Iowa's existing casinos would lose money to a Cedar Rapids casino.

Officials in Waterloo say the Isle has helped re-build a once struggling downtown.

"Gaming was a major contributor to those improvements to our downtown, either in part or in whole," said Buck Clark, Waterloo Mayor. 

Speakers from several cities say the loss in revenue caused by a new casino would hurt nonprofits in their areas.

"This is not just an issue for us of market saturation and cannibalization," said Jesus Aviles, Dubuque Racing Association. "It is an issue of survival."

Even the Sac and Fox Tribe is worried about a new casino competing with them, though they don't report to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Meskwaki is a large employer for the area.

"We would like to be able to add more employees," said Judith Bender, Meskwaki Tribal Council Chairwoman. "Not eliminate more casino jobs. We want to invest in central Iowa businesses, not cut back on plans."

Leaders in each of the cities with a casino already say Cedar Crossing would do more harm than good.

But Cedar Rapids leaders say a casino would be beneficial to the city and several resident voiced their support at the forum, too.
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