Iowa legislators approve two-year Cedar Rapids casino moratorium measure

Legislators in the Midwestern American state of Iowa have reportedly passed a controversial measure that would implement a two-year moratorium on the licensing of a casino for the city of Cedar Rapids.

According to a Monday report from The Gazette newspaper, the contentious legislation was approved by the Iowa State Senate via a 35-to-eleven margin late yesterday before being passed by the Iowa House of Representatives courtesy of a 60-to-23 vote. The suspension purportedly now requires the signature of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (pictured) before becoming law to thwart Cedar Rapids’ third attempt to secure a casino license following similar denials in 2014 and 2017.

Capacity concerns:

Iowa is home to almost 3.2 million people but reportedly already hosts 23 commercial and tribal gambling-friendly properties including the 85,000 sq ft Diamond Jo Casino Dubuque facility from Boyd Gaming Corporation and Caesars Entertainment Incorporated’s even larger Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo venue. Supporters of the moratorium purportedly argue that the state’s gaming market is already at saturation point and the appearance of another casino could severely negatively impact future donations to local non-profit organizations.

Prejudicial project:

Wes Ehrecke serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents the state’s 19-strong club of commercial casinos, and he reportedly detailed that his organizati kagame on supports the moratorium owing to such saturation concerns. However, Steve Hansen from the Iowa House of Representatives purportedly called the move ‘reactive instead of proactive’ and asserted that it was unfair to shut the door on some communities having casinos while allowing others to operate them.

Hansen reportedly stated…

“I think we’re going to end up wanting to increase licenses elsewhere in the state of Iowa to pick up that revenue that we’re going to lose. So, I think this amendment as far as the moratorium, part of it is very short-sighted.”

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Citizen support:

A city of almost 138,000 people, Cedar Rapids had reportedly been due to submit an official casino license application to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on June 2 following the successful November passage of an associated referendum by Linn County voters. This campaign purportedly represented the second time such a measure had been successful and the community had been hopeful of giving Cedar Rapids Development Group, which is a subsidiary of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, the right to run its new gambling-friendly venue until at least 2029.

Bordering build-up:

Nevertheless, The Gazette reported that Reynolds’ consent would implement the proposed casino moratorium from the first day of next month, which is a prospect the mayor of Cedar Rapids, Tiffany O’Donnell, called ‘incredibly disappointing’. City officials had purportedly argued that ‘the time is now’ to encourage increased growth in the state’s gaming industry so as to stave off growing competition from the industries in neighboring Illinois and Nebraska.

O’Donnell reportedly told the newspaper…

“It’s disappointing knowing the voters wanted the casino, the amount of time, money and effort from investors as well as from the governor’s appointed Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, that something like this can happen so quickly without any of us knowing about it.”