At least five Iowa counties will get the chance to make their case for new casinos.
The five-member Racing and Gaming Commission has decided to accept applications for new casinos in the state. It’s likely the five counties, which have already approved gambling referendums, will apply to get casinos in their areas.
During a meeting this morning in Altoona, Commission chairman Greg Seyfer of Cedar Rapids warned the communities that Iowans don’t want widespread gambling in the state.
"We’ve all received hundreds and hundreds of letters and emails and maybe I’m the only one, but I have not received one bit of correspondence from anyone outside of one of the counties that’s passed a referendum that’s asking for new casinos," Seyfer said.
Representatives from Lyon, Webster, Tama, Wapello and Franklin counties spoke briefly before the commission this morning, making a pitch for their projects. The commission’s chairman warned the casino boosters there are no guarantees.
"There’s a consensus, a unanimous concensus of the commission that it is time to accept new applications," Seyfer said. "Personally, I think it’s an uphill battle for anyone who’s going to apply now. I think from the studies, from the information we have, it’s a very tough time."
Seyfer and the other commissioners warned they’ll be "very protective" of existing casinos in the state, and pointed to studies which found each of the five proposed casinos would eat into the profits of casinos already operating in Iowa.
Applications for new casino licenses are due October 1st.
You can listen to all of the commissioner’s comments by clicking on the audio link below.