State regulators indicated Thursday it could take a year or more before they decide to look at awarding any new gambling licenses after expressing concern about the economy and some pending legislation on casinos.
The commissioners want to conduct another study of gambling before acting, which was not what communities wanting a new license wanted to hear. But Dennis Julius, a spokesman for the Jasper County Gaming Association Development Corporation, says they can wait a little longer in hopes of getting a casino near Newton.
Julius says they’re disappointed at the lengthening out of the process, as they’d like it to move forward quicker. He says they still believe in the economic development and jobs a casino can bring and "We will just be hear as long as the process takes." Julius thought the commissioners might make a more definitive decision now.
Julius says they thought the process would move forward quicker, but he says they understand the thoughts and concerns of the commissioners about opening new casinos. Julius says Jasper County will still seek to pass a referendum in April that will allow gambling in the county.
Julius says they will hold the referendum and if it passes, they would be in line to get a license later on. Wapello County passed referendum in 2004 and has been waiting since to get a license. Wapello County supervisor Steve Siegel says he wasn’t surprised the commission decided on another study.
"We respect the process, and we’ve waited a long time and we’ll wait until we have to," Siegel says. Siegel says investors wouldn’t invest in something they didn’t think was going to be profitable, so the number of people who want to invest in a new casino makes him believe it would be profitable.
Siegel would have liked to had a more concrete timeline for issuing new licenses. He says sooner is better than later, but they’re in it for the long haul and will follow the rules and do what they have to do. "We’ll be back, as long as it takes," Siegel says. Siegel likes the idea that the commissioners will seek lots of input in their study.
Siegel says his county will have some input on the criteria the commission will use for new licenses and says he believes the county will meet the criteria very well. The Racing and Gaming Commission will talk more about the new study at their meeting in April.