February 9, 2016

Cedar Rapids casino would have been rare “interior” casino

A Creighton University economist who has studied the nation’s gambling industry says casinos like the one that had been proposed for Cedar Rapids are a rarity, because it would have been an “interior” casino. Economist Ernie Goss is co-author of a book titled: “Governing Fortune: Casino Gambling in America” and he says “a high proportion” of U.S. casinos are located within two miles of a state’s border.

“Now there’s a reason why. It’s because you can pull from residents in another state,” Goss says. “Here you’re talking about in the Cedar Rapids case in the middle of the state, so how much you’re going to draw from other states is going to be limited in that location. Now, again if you look at Iowa’s casinos, I would argue the most successful ones are in Pottawattamie County. That’s one of the top casino destinations in the U.S., (in the) top 25.”

Council Bluffs is home to two state-licensed casinos: Ameristar and Harrah’s.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission this past Thursday voted down a proposed casino for downtown Cedar Rapids. The commission’s chairman said a Cedar Rapids casino would “destabilize” the nearby casino in Riverside, Iowa. Goss, the Creighton economist, says there’s a reason for that.

“Casino-goers are very — I won’t say fickle — but they like the latest and greatest,” Goss says, “so you open a new casino, it draws from the older casinos and then individuals move on, gamblers do.”

Goss made his remarks Friday during an appearance on the “Iowa Press” program that will air again Sunday at noon on Iowa Public Television.

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