Cedar Rapids ready to make case for a casino

Mayor, other officials to make formal presentation to Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission

Rick Smith
Published: January 8 2014 | 5:00 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:50 am in
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Thursday is the first of three big days for Cedar Crossing, the $150-million-plus casino project proposed to be built across the Cedar River from downtown.

The casino investor group, led by Cedar Rapids businessman Steve Gray, Mayor Ron Corbett and others will participate in a formal presentation in front of the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission in Waterloo Thursday morning in an effort to convince the commission to grant Cedar Crossing a state casino gaming license.

The commission then will come to Cedar Rapids on April 3 to examine the proposed casino site before voting on the Cedar Crossing proposal at its meeting on April 17 in Council Bluffs.

"It’s a pretty significant day because it’s really our only chance to exclusively be at the podium to talk about our project," Corbett said of Thursday’s presentation to the commission. "I think the team has put together a phenomenal project."

Gray said Thursday’s presentation to the commission at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo is the culmination of work that started three years ago as he and others began to explore the feasibility of building a casino in Cedar Rapids.

He said Cedar Rapids and Linn County have demonstrated that they want the Cedar Crossing venue by quickly providing more than 15,000 signatures on petitions to prompt a vote on casino gaming and then by approving the ballot measure with a 61.2-percent majority.

Gray said Thursday’s presentation to the commission also will make the case that the Cedar Crossing venue is unique in Iowa because it is an "urban" casino designed to help complete Cedar Rapids’ recovery from its flood disaster of 2008.

The 45-minute presentation of the Cedar Crossing project will feature a 6-minute video of the flood and the recovery.

"I am humbled to be a part of the story of the comeback city of Iowa," Gray said.

The Racing & Gaming Commission currently has contracted with two firms to conduct market analyses of Iowa’s gaming market. The studies will attempt to learn how much more gaming revenue a Cedar Rapids casino will generate for Iowa and how much of the revenue will be taken from existing casinos.

In its presentation on Thursday, the Cedar Rapids casino investor group will present its own market study, which concludes that a Cedar Rapids casino would increase casino gaming revenue in Iowa by $61 million a year while taking 9 percent of the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort’s revenue, 5 percent from Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo, 7 percent from the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel and 2 percent from the Dubuque casino market.

Dan Kehl, president/CEO of the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort south of Iowa City, said his market study shows that his venue would lose 39 percent of its business to a Cedar Rapids casino.

 

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