Gambling loss to other states could help Cedar Rapids casino | New Policies

MARISSA PAYNE Cedar Rapids Gazette

ALTOONA — New market research commissioned by the panel that regulates Iowa’s gambling facilities shows that Nebraska’s plans to build casinos along Iowa’s western border will eat away at industry revenue in this State – which Cedar Rapids officials hope will finally lead regulators to approve a casino in Iowa’s second. biggest city.

However, one report specifically points to the “cannibalization” of the market that encompasses Waterloo and Riverside casinos. That’s why Cedar Rapids was denied licenses by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission in both 2014 and 2017.

Cedar Rapids officials say the city remains on the verge of competing for a license to operate a casino, however, as an apparent solution for Iowa to stave off competition from newly approved games at Nebraska’s six racetracks. . As November voters again passed the Linn County gaming referendum, Cedar Rapids now has the option to seek a license in perpetuity from the state commission.

Spectrum Gaming Group and Innovation Group presented the results of their studies to the commission at its Thursday meeting in Altoona. Reports have warned of increased competition from neighboring states as expansions are underway in Nebraska and Illinois, and a new casino will soon open in Beloit, Wis.

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One study predicted that Iowa’s gaming revenue would drop $183 million a year, while another predicted it could drop $256 million due to increased competition from neighboring states.

At the same time, the Innovation Group study showed that a casino in Cedar Rapids would take $61 million from existing casinos in the same market, but provide the state with a net gain in commercial gambling revenue of $51 million.

“Knowing that the Stewards have their eye on the competition, looking at these numbers which have improved so much since the last time, I have to ask, if the conditions aren’t good at the moment, I don’t know when they will be” , Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said in an interview with Prairie Meadows Casino, Racetrack and Hotel.

“Now is the time,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz agreed.

Commission members wanted to understand the potential for a Linn County casino to oversaturate the market and “cannibalize” nearby casinos, but otherwise gave little guidance on their position.

Brian Ohorilko, administrator of the commission, said the additional state revenue is something previous commissions have considered when awarding a license, but it’s only one factor.

The Spectrum Group study said Cedar Rapids was “well serviced” by casinos in Waterloo and Riverside. A rep said the group doesn’t have data on how many residents of a certain ZIP code have visited the casinos, but “just look at the map” to see where people are coming from.

The Innovation Group study predicted a casino in Cedar Rapids would have a 76% overlap with casinos within a 45-minute drive, but Ohorilko said that had less of a ‘cannibalizing’ impact than the studies. from 2014 and 2017 showed it.

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Pomeranz said Cedar Rapids’ proposal will be competitive. The revenue it generates will be “necessary to keep the game strong in the state,” he said.

“It’s so much more than play,” Pomeranz said. “It’s a quality of life facility and initiative that’s going to be a real benefit. I think it will be very well received by our community, as well as our company and our visitors.

Specifically, he said the venue would contain multiple bars, restaurants, and different types of entertainment besides gaming. The location remains undecided, but the city is prioritizing the location of a casino, if ever approved, downtown.

If the commission has a request to consider, Ohorilko said the panel may get additional information regarding the markets depending on how many slots or table games or amenities the establishment has.

The studies also assessed the socio-economic impact of casinos on their communities, looking at factors such as crime rates, child abuse, single-parent families, and public support. Counties with casinos saw higher rates of them.

Although it does not have a casino, Cedar Rapids ranked 15th in the state for its gambling population.

“From studies, we know the Cedar Rapidians are playing,” O’Donnell said. “They go to these other cities and play, and if we look at the numbers we know there are those who may have challenges when they come back. They simply don’t have the benefits of funding and support enjoyed by those who live in casino communities.

Cedar Rapids casino partners have pledged to donate 8% of their revenue to nonprofits in the area, which O’Donnell says would provide support on many fronts, including those who may have gambling addiction issues. For example, the Spectrum study showed that while more casino county residents generally sought help from Iowa’s problem gambling services, 264 Linn County residents out of 100,000 have contacted the service. That’s higher than the larger Polk County.

As Cedar Rapids prepares to fight for a casino, former adversaries resurface to file suit against a Linn County gambling establishment.

With the latest research, Dan Kehl, managing director of Elite Casino Resorts, which operates the Riverside Casino among other things, said in a statement that the industry needs to find ways to strengthen border casinos. He also insisted on findings that a casino in Cedar Rapids would reduce revenue for nearby casinos.

“It’s like deja vu,” Kehl said. “The commission has studied this matter diligently. But the fact is that a casino in Cedar Rapids comes mostly at the expense of Riverside, Waterloo, and Meskwaki. We have invested heavily in our properties to make them attractive to our clients.

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