Waterloo Casino Joins Group Opposing New Casino

By Rick Smith, Reporter

Ron Garris (right) of Waterloo reacts after he beat the house as he plays blackjack with Jim Scheppele (center) also of Waterloo during the grand opening of the Isle Casino & Hotel at Waterloo on Saturday, June 30, 2007, in Waterloo. Dealer Angie Schemmel is at left.

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By Aaron Hepker

WATERLOO, Iowa — The Isle of Capri Casino Hotel Waterloo has joined the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort in contributing to Just Say No Casino in an effort to defeat the March 5 referendum in Linn County on casino gaming.

On Monday, the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission made public a document that shows the Waterloo casino has informed the commission it has signed a contract with Just Say No Casino to provide up to $150,000 to the anti-casino group's campaign in Linn County.

This report follows one released by the state commission on Friday that shows the Riv erside casino intends to spend up to $1.5 million to defeat the Linn County casino ballot measure.

Steve Gray, a leading investor in the Cedar Rapids casino proposal, said Monday he wouldn't be surprised if the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel also contributes funds to beat back a Cedar Rapids casino.

State-licensed casinos such as Riverside and Waterloo must report expenditures of more than $100,000 to the state commission, though the Meskwaki casino is an Indian casino that does not need a state license and has no such reporting requirements.

The Waterloo and Riverside casinos, which opened in 2007 and 2006 respectively, are funding the anti-casino campaign in Linn County because they believe their business will be harmed if a Cedar Rapids casino is built.

Those concerns are shared by members of Black Hawk County Gaming Association, the nonprofit organization that holds the Isle's license and distributes a portion of casino funds for community projects. However, association members have said they aren't involving themselves in the referendum campaign but will take their case to the Racing & Gaming Commission if the Linn County measure passes and casino backers there apply for a license.

Investors in the proposed Cedar Rapids casino said Monday the best place for a casino is an area across the Cedar River from either downtown or the Quaker Oats plant, with easy access to and great visibility from Interstate 380.
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