CEDAR RAPIDS — The investor group that wants to secure a state license to build and operate a casino here is making its case by telling the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission that Cedar Rapids is “the most underserved gaming market” in Iowa.
In addition, the investors state that their own consultant believes that the Cedar Rapids metropolitan statistical area, which includes Linn, Benton and Jones counties, will remain one of the most underserved gaming markets even with a Cedar Rapids casino.
That is one highlight of the 66-page application for a state gaming license filed with the state commission by investor group Cedar Rapids Development Group LLC, an application that includes six sections of exhibits appended to it.
The group’s application was, as expected, the only one filed by the commission’s Tuesday deadline for applicants who want to build and operate a casino in Cedar Rapids.
The public can view the Cedar Rapids Development Group’s application for their proposed Cedar Crossing Casino by going to the commission’s website.
The application provides some figures that differ a bit from numbers made public just last week by the investor group led by Cedar Rapids businessmen Steve Gray and Drew Skogman.
Last week, the investor group estimated that the casino would cost $125 million to plan, design, build, equip and open and would come with a parking ramp at an additional cost of $28 million.
In its application, the investor group estimates that the casino will cost $139 million and will come with a parking ramp that will cost an additional $25.3 million to build.
Gray on Tuesday said the investor group and its contractor reworked numbers in the final days leading up to the submission of the application to the commission late Friday, and by then, the costs had climbed one final time, he said.
The project started out as an $85-million one when Gray and Skogman first made it public eleven months ago.
The application to the commission states that the Cedar Rapids casino will feature 840 slot machines, 25 table games and five poker tables, which is fewer gaming options than the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort (1,144 slots, 46 table games), Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo (950 slots, 27 table games), Diamond Jo Dubuque (996 slots and 19 table games), and the Mystique racetrack and casino in Dubuque (976 slots and 23 gaming tables).
In its first full year of operation, the investor group says a Cedar Rapids casino will provide $23.27 million in tax revenue to the state of Iowa, $977,823 to Linn County and $2.13 million to the city of Cedar Rapids.
The casino is projected to provide 343 direct casino jobs and 127 additional indirect jobs because of the casino’s presence. Another 125 construction jobs will result from the casino project, according to the investors’ application.
The investor group’s consultant, TMG Consulting, New Orleans, forecasts that 11 percent of the gaming revenue at a Cedar Rapids casino will come from out-of-state customers.
“It should be noted that this project has deliberately been located in an urban environment to help attract more regional and national convention business to downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second largest city,” the investor group’s application states. “As such, this location presents the least amount of impact on other gaming facilities in the state.”
Among the state commission’s central concerns is the impact a Cedar Rapids casino will have on existing state-licensed casinos.
The investor group’s application states that the casino project has more than 180 investors, which is consistent with the numbers provided by Gray in recent weeks.
Gray and Skogman now hold 4.6512 percent of the equity each in the project and local investors hold the majority of the equity, Gray said on Tuesday.
Three former Peninsula Gaming LLC executives, who have been hired to manage the Cedar Rapids casino, hold 25.58 percent of the equity in the Cedar Rapids casino project as the entity Peninsula Pacific Cedar Rapids LLC.
Peninsula Gaming sold the Diamond Jo Dubuque and the Diamond Jo Worth casinos in Iowa and three other out-of-state casino properties in November 2012.
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission is expected to make a decision on Cedar Crossing Casino next spring.
The Cedar Rapids casino will be located between First and Second avenues SW and First and Third streets SW if the investors secure a state gaming license.
The three-story casino next to the Cedar River will feature a first floor of parking in case the river floods again. A parking ramp across First Avenue West will provide additional parking and be connected by skywalk to the casino.