Casino supporters and opponents prepare for license decision - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Casino supporters and opponents prepare for license decision

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Cedar Crossing investors announced their plans a year and a half ago and ever since there's been one big sticking point: the impact a Cedar Rapids casino could have on the existing market. That one factor will heavily influence the commission Thursday.

The west side of the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids continues to recover from the floods of 2008. A casino there would put now empty plots of land back on the property tax rolls and city leaders believe it would inspire more to build nearby.

"It's going to be very important from a jobs standpoint, construction jobs from the casino itself, the ongoing jobs, and really what it's going to do is it's going to help redevelop the whole west side," said Ron Corbett, Cedar Rapids Mayor.

Money from the casino would go the area's not-for-profits, many of which are seeing a higher need but getting less funding.

"This is a grand opportunity for us now to have much more at our ability to see and meet the needs of the people of our area," said Linda Seger, Linn County Gaming Association.

But the millions of dollars the casino would bring in would come, in large part, at the expense of others.

Riverside Casino would have less money to give to its community. Its CEO says as many as 300 of the resort's 750 employees could lose their jobs.

"It would be a step backwards and it would be very difficult for us to maintain this beautiful facility and turn us into more of a grind operation," said
Dan Kehl, Riverside Casino CEO.

Statewide studies show Riverside could lose as much as 42%of its revenue to Cedar Crossing.

"The commission has our facts. their studies agree with our facts," said Kehl. "If they follow precedent we're hopeful that they'll turn it down."

But in Cedar Rapids, leaders are hoping the commission will say yes. Developers are set to buy several plots of city owned land.

So if the commission says no....

"I suppose we're going to be back to square one," said Corbett.

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