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Mayor Tiffany O'Donnell sends letter asking Gov. Reynolds to veto casino moratorium

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O'Donnell web 5.23

Mayor Tiffany O'Donnell

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) -- Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O'Donnell has sent a letter to Governor Kim Reynolds asking her to veto a bill that would stop new gaming licenses until 2024.

This comes as local organizations officially unveiled their plans for a new casino in Cedar Rapids after nearly a decade of planning.

An amended bill passed both the Iowa House and the Senate earlier in May, and if signed by Reynolds, it would create a 2-year moratorium on new gaming licenses. This would keep the number of licensed casinos in Iowa at 19 until 2024, and provide a major setback for the proposed Cedar Rapids casino.

O'Donnell has previously said that she and the project investors felt blind-sided by the vote.

In the letter, O'Donnell states that almost 80 local investors have been involved in two gaming referendums that Linn County voters have passed. She says that they had been disappointed when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission denied a handful of requests for a casino since 2013, but "respected the process."

O'Donnell says that because of how quick it was passed, lawmakers likely did not consider the growth of Linn County or the findings of recent studies that show a casino would significantly increase Iowa gaming revenue.

"It was incredibly frustrating to learn of the lack of dialogue or consideration involved in the moratorium amendment," O'Donnell wrote. "On Senator Jack Whitver's Iowa Press appearance, he stated the Senate Republican caucus discussed tis issue for 'probably 20 seconds'"

O'Donnell feels as though there has not been an opportunity for information to be presented to lawmakers.

You can read the full letter here: