Linn County Gaming Assn. Incorporates; Estimates Bringing Millions to Charitable Causes

By Rick Smith, Reporter

Casino industry professionals browse through the newest slot machines on display at the Global Gaming Expo, Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in Las Vegas. Casino revenues have increased this year in 18 of the 21 states that allow commercial gambling and, new casinos are opening in several jurisdictions. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

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By Liz Blood

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - The new non-profit Linn County Gaming Association Inc. has formally incorporated and says a Cedar Rapids area casino could steer $2.4 million to $4 million a year to local charitable causes.

The non-profit association has come to be alongside a group of investors called Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC who announced last week that they will try to open a casino in the Cedar Rapids area by 2016.

State law requires a non-profit entity to hold the state gaming license should the investors succeed in convincing Linn County voters to approve gaming in the county and then succeed in convincing the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to provide a gaming license in Linn County.

The Linn County Gaming Association was created in discussions between Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC, the Cedar Rapids City Council and the Linn County Board of Supervisors.

The association’s five initial members are Keith Rippy, executive director of the Area Ambulance Service; City Council member Justin Shields; Linn Supervisor Brent Oleson; Linda Seger, president of the Northwest Neighbors Neighborhood Association; and Leah Rodenberg, who works in the field of corporate philanthropy. Rippy is the association’s president.

In a news release, the gaming association states that Cedar Rapids Development LLC, led by Cedar Rapids businessman and investor Steve Gray, will operate the casino for 10 years with options to extend the agreement with the non-profit for up to 50 years.

Gray and Drew Skogman, vice president of Skogman Homes and another of the 22 investors in the casino venture, have said they will begin a petition drive in the near future in an effort to obtain some 12,000 signatures to prompt a Linn County vote on a casino. They said they expect the vote to take place next May or August. The investor group will approach the state Racing and Gaming Commission if the Linn County referendum succeeds.

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