Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell Asks Iowa Governor to Veto Casino Moratorium

Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell Asks Iowa Governor to Veto Casino Moratorium

Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell Asks Iowa Governor to Veto Casino Moratorium

Posted on: June three, 2022, 11:37h.&nbsp

Final updated on: June 3, 2022, 12:01h.

Cedar Rapids has been looking for a casino property to aid jump-commence the city’s economy for practically a decade. A recent bill passed by the Iowa Legislature would delay such a gaming initiative for at least another two years.

Cedar Rapids Iowa casino gaming license
Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell (pictured) is urging Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds to veto legislation that would avoid the state from expanding its casino sector for two years. State lawmakers have signed off on a two-year new casino moratorium. (Image: The Gazette)

The Iowa Legislature approved a gaming bill last week that primarily has to do with minor regulatory changes. But lawmakers threw in with tiny discussion a two-year moratorium that blocks the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) from issuing new gaming licenses till July 1, 2024.

Lawmakers justified the provision by saying the state’s 19 commercial riverboat and brick-and-mortar casinos require a stable operating atmosphere in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Iowa’s 2019 authorization of sports betting, which has brought the gaming industry into the limelight with incessant sports betting advertising, was also cited for the two-year stalemate.

Officials in Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second-most populated city, say the bill ordering the state gaming commission to forgo thinking about new casino bids is unfair. With Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) not tipping her hand on whether or not she’ll sign Property Fill 2497, or at least strike the moratorium component, Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell is pleading her case to sway the governor into a veto.

The ideal course for Iowa is to preserve gaming choices below the purview of the IRGC. They are greatest suited to determine the appropriate path forward for our gaming industry,” O’Donnell wrote in her letter to the governor.

“Accordingly, I respectfully ask you to veto HF 2497,” the mayor pleaded.

Marketplace Modifications

Cedar Rapids voters have currently twice lent their backing to election concerns regarding the authorization of a casino. An entity referred to as the Cedar Rapids Improvement Group, which entails approximately 80 nearby investors, has because 2014 been proposing resort developments with gaming operations.

The IRGC, even so, denied Cedar Rapids’ casino application in 2014 and 2017 on marketplace saturation issues. The group’s 2022 casino pitch argues that with the Cedar Rapids regional population increasing by over 40,000 residents considering that the last census, the IRGC may possibly be much more inclined to situation the city a gaming license.

O’Donnell cited in her letter to the governor a current IRGC-commission study performed by The Innovation Group, a gaming consultancy. That study discovered a Cedar Rapids casino would only enhance statewide net gaming revenue by $50 million a year.

Tiny Legislative Discussion

In the days following the decision by Iowa’s state politicians to location an embargo on new gaming licenses, it has become apparent that there was slim debate concerning the moratorium.

It was extremely frustrating to understand of the lack of dialogue or consideration involved in the moratorium amendment,” O’Donnell told Reynolds. “On Senator Jack Whitver’s Iowa Press appearance, he stated the Senate Republican caucus discussed the issue for ‘probably 20 seconds.’”

“They [state lawmakers] probably didn’t have time to go over the findings of the two recent, independent, IRGC-commissioned studies,” the mayor continued. “Given that the amended bill was filed and passed both chambers in a matter of hours, the city and IRGC were unable to share this critically critical details with the legislature.”

Along with The Innovation Group review, the IRGC contracted Spectrum Gaming, yet another consultancy, to probe the company effect that new casinos in Nebraska will have on Iowa’s gaming industry. Analysts determined that new gaming offerings in Nebraska could expense Council Bluffs and Sioux City casinos 40%-45% of their marketplace share.

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