TAMA COUNTY, Iowa - Leaders of the Tama County Sac and Fox Tribe, which operates the Meskwaki Casino, are speaking out against the proposed Linn County Casino. Frank Blackcloud, the Tribal Chairman, told TV9 on Monday that if a casino pops up in Linn County, it would take away jobs and business not just from their tribe but also the community.
"Some of those businesses are dependent on the income derived from the casino here," said Blackcloud. He said Meskwaki employs about 872 people, 102 of the are tribal members. "All you're going to be doing is taking jobs away from us and putting those same jobs in Cedar Rapids," he added.
Unlike state-licensed casinos, Meskwaki has control over all of their revenue. Blackcloud said they use the money to build vital things like houses, their school, and their health clinic. These are all things Blackcloud said was promised by the government, but that the government failed to provide. "I just wish people would see the good that we are doing with proceeds from our casino," he said.
But Marica Rogers, the Communications Director with the Vote Yes Linn County Campaign, is surprised that Blackcloud and others feel a new casino would hurt their business. "Early on, they approached people in Cedar Rapids about starting a casino here. If they were really concerned about taking away business in Tama County, I don't think they would have come here with a strong interest in starting a casino," she said.
However, BlackCloud said that investors approached them in the summer and together they discussed putting a tribal casino in Cedar Rapids. "After their consideration and deliberation with investors, they thought that it would take too long. I believe this is why they are going this route," said Blackcloud.
Rogers said Vote Yes Linn County ultimately wanted a casino that created local jobs and increased county and state revenue. "Our research shows that we will continue to attract tourists and become a destination spot for people coming in," she said, "Our research also shows that our county would benefit greatly from a casino. We do not plan on putting a casino up like those around us, it will be quite different."
There are five casinos are within 75 miles of Cedar Rapids: Riverside, Diamond Jo and Mystique, The Isle, and Meskwaki.