Cedar Rapids mayor, Ron Corbett, says the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) is slamming the door on his city’s hopes of amending its application for a gambling license for a downtown casino. The commission did not officially approve a moratorium on new gambling licenses, but indicated unanimously Thursday that they felt the market is currently saturated and they want to see how the one new casinos fare before taking any action.
Corbett says the IRGC’s stance ends the city’s hope of submitting an amended application for a scaled-back casino or the first smoke-free casino “So the door is pretty much closed from the Racing and Gaming Commission’s viewpoint. And one of the reasons that I think the legislature maybe ought to address — not just the issue of Cedar Rapids — but the overall issue of gaming and some of the inequities in the system that have developed over the years,” Corbett says.
The IRGC turned down the Cedar Rapids application for a gambling license in April on a 4-1 vote. Mayor Corbett says he’s discussed the matter with party leaders, Democrat Mike Gronstal in the Senate and Republican Kraig Paulson in the House. “So our hope is to formulate a legislative package that the legislature will consider next year, just as they’re looking at other issues dealing with roads and bridges. Hopefully gambling reform will be another issue that they have on the table,” according to Corbett.
The chair of the Racing and Gaming Commission said after their meeting Thursday that the interpretation of the current law is they have to consider the impact on existing casinos before approving any new gaming licenses. He said the legislature would have to make a change to have the commission look a the issue differently.