Iowa Gaming Commission Rejects Cedar Rapids Casino - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Iowa Gaming Commission Rejects Cedar Rapids Casino

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Efforts to expand gambling in eastern Iowa went bust Thursday when the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission turned down a request for a new gambling license in Cedar Rapids.

"In granting a license here, we would have been making a significant policy shift in how gaming is regulated in Iowa," said Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Chairman Jeff Lamberti.

The commissioners met in Council Bluffs, Iowa where the room was full of people anxiously waiting for the vote. All but one commissioner voted against the proposal.

The chairman said in the past, the commission turned down applications because a new casino would take away revenue. In this case, statewide studies showed the Cedar Rapids proposal could take away as much as 42 percent from the casino in nearby Riverside. Commissioners said they followed precedent when denying the Linn County application.

"We have a different opinion, but you know what, we'll re-evaluate where we are and decide where we go from here," said Steve Gray of the Cedar Rapids Development Group.

Dan Kehl, Riverside Casino CEO said the outcome is what he had been hoping for.

"We were pretty confident that the studies were accurate because we had real data and we understood what the impact would be," said Kehl, who just recently purchased the Rhythm City Casino in Davenport. Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba says he is happy about the decision.

"They apparently want to make sure the market is not saturated, but again, glad to see it. It just means people will come to the Quad Cities, Davenport and come to Rhythm City and spend their money," said Gluba.

Commissioners said it was a strong proposal, but they felt Cedar Rapids is not an undeserved market when it comes to gambling. But supporters of the project say this is a huge loss for the Cedar Rapids community, especially since city leaders hoped the tax money raised from the casino would help fund flood protection.

NBC Affiliate KWWL-TV contributed to this story.

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