An updated report on the potential for new casinos in Iowa shows the more heavily populated sites in eastern Iowa could make the most money. The last report was done in 2003. Will Cummings of Cummings and Associates in Arlington, Virginia presented the new report to the Racing and Gaming Commission today (Thursday). He says the overall structure of things is very similar. He says the areas of greatest potential are where the people are in Black Hawk County and the city of Waterloo, along with Riverside, which is near Iowa City. Three groups have asked for a new casino to build casinos in Waterloo. Cummings says the area could support as many as two. He says, “Among those available, it is the largest population center. It’s comparable to the middle-size markets that currently have casinos, like Dubuque, which supports two casinos.” He says the revenue numbers don’t grow much with two casinos, but they would be 150-million dollars, which he says would support two casinos if they were structured right. Cummings says granting two licenses in Waterloo would require some modifications by the license holders. He says the current applicants have all assumed they’d be the only license holders in the area, so if two were awarded, he says they have to restructure their plans “pretty significantly.” The report says the projected new gambling spending for Linn, Johnson and Black Hawk counties is 172-million dollars. The projection for spending in Cerro Gordo and Webster County in northern Iowa is a combined 33-million dollars. Cummings says the projections do show those northern sites would draw significantly from Minnesota, but he says it’s just that the population in the area is spread thin. And he says there’s significant competition from existing casinos in Minnesota as you go farther north. Cummings says the northern facilities would have to have very good operating plans.He says the projected revenues aren’t that high and they “would have to be done very carefully, but if appropriately done, they would be feasible.” The report also shows the potential for 13 million dollars in new gambling spending in Wappello County. Cummings says the report includes a comparison of gambling in Iowa to other states. He says the comparison was done in terms of how many casinos and slot machines Iowa has based on population, and found we’re right in the middle. Ten organizations have applied for new gambling licenses. The Racing and Gaming Commission does not have a set number of licenses it has to approve. The commission will hold a public hearing on the proposals May 4th and will make a decision on how many new licenses to award on May 11th. You can see the full report by surfing to: www.state.iowa.us, and then going to the Racing and Gaming Commission webpage.
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