Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission meeting to discuss impacts of Linn County Casino

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 10:15 PM CST
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LINN COUNTY, Iowa (KCRG) -New independent studies show the social and economic impact of a casino in Linn County. The Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission is set to meet Thursday morning to discuss the findings in the two studies.

55% of Linn County voters approved a referendum for a casino in Linn County during the November 2021 elections.

The Spectrum study says that the Cedar Rapids area is well served by casinos in surrounding areas. The word “Cannibalism” appears repeatedly in the study by Spectrum in terms of eating the profits of other gaming facilities. This is what the state gaming commission cited as the reason for denying Linn County a license to open a casino in both 2014 and 2017.

The Innovation Group study shows existing casinos would lose an estimated $61 million a year, but the state would gain an estimated $51 million in tax revenue.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell, says these new studies are favorable for the Linn County Casino Efforts, in comparison to 2014 and 2017.

“There are some significant changes in the environment and the landscape as it relates to a new casino, and very much in our favor. In terms of how many people, for example, we have 40,000 more people here in Lyndon Johnson counties than we had before. According to these studies, we have an opportunity to bring in $51 million in new revenue to the state,” said Mayor O’Donnell.

Casinos in Waterloo and Riverside are the two casinos named by Spectrum that would be hardest hit by a Cedar Rapids casino.

“We have one study that did seem to opine on an impact of Riverside and Waterloo. It does appear that may be less than some of the previous studies,” said Brian Ohorilko, Administrator of the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission.

“It’s time for competition. It’s hard to make a case against it when you’re seeing In the success in the record profits that the existing casinos have raked in over the last four and five years,” said Mayor O’Donnell.

Right now, Linn County has no concrete proposal for a casino, such as the location, IRGC says this makes it hard to know the true impacts of a casino.

“Those estimates that were provided, are based on just generalizations and not specific applications or, or with information regarding the number of slot machines, number of table games, location, and additional amenities,” said Ohorilko.

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