Casino confusion: Cedar Rapids reacts to IRGC's newest decision - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Casino confusion: Cedar Rapids reacts to IRGC's newest decision

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Small flags mark the spot where many hoped a casino would one day stand in Cedar Rapids. The dreams of many in Linn County seemed to come to an end in April when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission found a Cedar Rapids casino would do more harm to existing casinos than it would help the state.

"They were so strong, the racing and gaming commission, as far cannibalization and the industry -- it was saturated. they used their own studies. The studies haven't changed," said Ron Corbett, Cedar Rapids Mayor.

Those studies showed a Cedar Rapids casino would take millions of dollars away from others in eastern Iowa. Those same studies show a Greene County casino would also hurt the existing market, yet commissioners said yes to that proposal.

"The net economic impact to the state, to the local area outweighed the impact to existing facilities," said Jeff Lamberti, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Chairman. Lamberti was one of two commissioners to vote against a Linn County casino but for a Greene County casino.

Cedar Crossing would have brought in millions more than Wild Rose Jefferson will -- $20-25 million of new gaming money versus $6 million.

"Revenues to the state in that kind of scenario is only one factor, but, historically, the impact on existing facilities has carried much more weight," said Lamberti.

Still, the commission's vote shows they are willing to issue new licenses and officials in Cedar Rapids say they're going to continue to fight for one.

"I think we should still continue to try," said Corbett. "This just gives me more resolve to try for a license on behalf of our community and I hope the citizens feel that way, too."

Lamberti also told KWWL the commission is considering taking a break from issuing new casino licenses while they decide if the state has enough. They'll discuss the topic more at the meeting next month.
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