800 Turn Out For Public Hearing On Cedar Rapids Casino - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

800 Turn Out For Public Hearing On Cedar Rapids Casino

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A lot more than a new casino project is at stake. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is trying to decide whether the Cedar Rapids proposal will cannibalize existing casinos in Eastern Iowa.

More than 800 people, both supporters and opponents to the project, packed a public hearing at a Cedar Rapids hotel this week.

Supporters in the crowd were mostly from Cedar Rapids. City leaders have said the $164 million Cedar Crossing could be the capstone of recovery from the destructive 2008 floods.

"We need Cedar Crossing Casino. It, in so many ways, will give us another huge step forward in continuing that momentum and our rebuilding," said Mike McGrath of Cedar Rapids.

But many of the people were also from communities that already have casinos, like Waterloo, Dubuque and Riverside. Dan Kehl was among them. He's developing Davenport's future land-based casino, and is the CEO of the Riverside Casino near Iowa City. Kehl told the commission that a new casino in Cedar Rapids would put some people out of work.

"Cutting jobs from Riverside and surrounding casinos will cause great damage to the families involved," Kehl said.

It's not just Riverside Casino that would expect to be hurt by the project. Statewide studies show all of Eastern Iowa's existing casinos would lose money to the Cedar Rapids casino.

In the Quad Cities, The Rhythm City Casino in Davenport and Isle of Capri Casino in Bettendorf would each see a $6 million loss in revenue, according to a study by Marquette Advisors.

Members of the IRAGC won't say if they are leaning one way or the other, but they do say they have a lot of information to process before making a decision on April 17th.

(NBC Affiliate KWWL contributed to this story)

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