The Iowa cities and counties hoping for a new gambling license will find out if that’s a possibility at the next meeting of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on July 16th. The commission heard summaries today from two consulting groups who have studied the prospects for more casinos.
Commission chair Greg Seyfer of Cedar Rapids says they now have the information they need to make a decision. Seyfer says the commissioners have from now until the next meeting to go through everything and then they’ll hold a discussion of the issues at the July meeting and decide if they want to open of the process for more license applications. Seyfer says his plant is to talk about the issues and then move ahead.
He says each commissioner will have an opportunity to speak to the issue and then they will come up with a decision. Seyfer says it’s clear that both groups that did the gambling studies believe the Iowa market is getting closed to a saturation point. And he says the commission now must determine if adding more casinos can bring enough benefit without hurting the 17 existing operations.
"Yeah, I think that’s clearly the big issue and it’s one of the reason why I’m glad we had two reports done," Seyfer says. He says since both studies came up with the same conclusion on the potential for cannibalizing the existing casinos, then it’s definitely an area of concern. A new casino in far northwest Iowa’s Lyon County appears to have the most promise in both of the gambling studies as it is projected to draw a large number of gamblers from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
South Dakota lawmakers have talked about creating their own casino to counter the Iowa proposal, but Seyfer says that won’t figure into the commission’s decision. Seyfer says it’s hard to predict what other states will do, and he says competition from other states has been an ongoing issue with the potential for a casino in Nebraska. But he says, "I don’t think we can decide what we do based off of what another jurisdiction may or may not do."
The commission last added gambling licenses in 2005, and agreed to take another look at the issue for those communities that did not make the cut. They then decided to wait to make a decision until the new surveys on gambling were completed.