No dice: IRGC members explain reasons, casino operators glad - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

No dice: IRGC members explain reasons, casino operators glad

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COUNCIL BLUFFS (KWWL) - A large group of people traveled from Cedar Rapids to Council Bluffs for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission meeting Thursday.

In the morning, they were optimistic. They had reason to be, as commissioners said the proposal was strong -- one even calling it the strongest she's seen.

It just wasn't enough, and the commission denied the application.

"Obviously we're disappointed," said Steve Gray, Chairman of the Cedar Rapids Development Group. "I think as we look back on all that we've worked for over the last three years, the thing to keep in mind is we were doing this for Cedar Rapids and eastern Iowa. And I think as we look back at that we've done, or should have done, I think we've executed perfectly."

To date, the group has spent $7 million on the push for a Cedar Rapids casino.

There was anticipation, and a nervous feeling in the air as both supporters and opponents filled the room for the decision.

Each commissioner explained their vote.

"In terms of total operation, it is not positive enough to add a new license at this time," said Carl Heinrich, commissioner.

It continued that way with four commissioners voting no and just one saying yes.

While the Cedar Rapids group lowered their heads, others were relaxing, knowing Iowa's casinos would not have a new competitor.

"When you look at the impact on all the other communities in Iowa, it just didn't make sense," said Dan Kehl, Riverside Casino CEO.

Commissioners said granting a Linn County license would have set a new precedent.

"In granting a license here, we would have been making a significant policy shift in how gaming is regulated in Iowa," said Jeff Lamberti, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Chairman.

They weren't willing to make that change.

And now, with no license, the Cedar Rapids Development Group has to decide what's next.

"We need to take a step back, talk to our board, talk to our advisors and determine where we go from here," said Gray.

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