Building A Casino In Cedar Rapids, IA Would Take Millions Away F - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Building A Casino In Cedar Rapids, IA Would Take Millions Away From Others

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Two independent, state-wide studies are showing that building a new casino in Cedar Rapids could cannibalize others around the area. Even though the Quad Cities is just over an hour and a half away from Cedar Rapids, according to these studies QCA casinos would lose money too if a new one is built in Linn County. 

Closer to Cedar Rapids, Riverside Casino and Isle Casino Hotel in Waterloo would take the biggest revenue hits. Riverside is estimated to lose $25 million and Isle-Waterloo $10 million. 

All of these findings came from these studies that say another casino in Iowa can't be built without taking millions of dollars away from others. 

Rhythm City Casino in Davenport and Isle Capri Casino in Bettendorf would each see a $6 million loss in revenue. That's $12 million total if a new casino in Cedar Rapids is built, according to a study by Marquette Advisors. 

It's all hinging on the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and whether members decide to give Cedar Rapids a casino license. 

"One would hope that this commission would follow the practices of previous commissions and not allow it, given the impact it appears to have on other casinos," said President of the Riverboat Development Authority Mary Ellen Chamberlin.

The RDA is the organization that holds the Rhythm City Casino license. Chamberlin said adding a new casino will have a deep impact.

"You can't get a market without taking it from somebody else," said Chamberlin. 

Each casino in Iowa is required to have a non-for-profit hold their gambling license.
"Anything that impacts the casinos, impacts our ability to continue to grant dollars," said Chamberlin. "So when those dollars go down, our money goes down. We're dependent on the casinos, we have one source of income."

Grant dollars that are given to charities and city entities for things like the arts, education and public safety, among many others. Marquette Advisors said in their study that the Iowa casino supply is approaching maximum saturation in the existing market and that new revenues will most likely be drawn out of existing casinos. 

The other study by Union Gaming echoes the same ideas, stating they recommend Iowa refrain from issuing a new casino license at this time.

Despite these recommendations the IRGC said it's too early too tell what they will do.

"The findings are a factor, whether or not they're the most important factor, that's up to the five commission member as they get to utilize their discretion in determining what maybe more important for them than others," said Administrator of the IRGC Brian Ohorliko.  

Ohorliko said the Cedar Rapids applicants wanted the Commission to know that they had economic need from past floods and that a new casino could create jobs and boost tourism. 

The IRGC will hold a public meeting on Thursday in Altoona, where the independent study vendors will get to present their findings. Then, the IRGC will decide on April 17th if Cedar Rapids will get a casino license. 


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