A group of developers is aiming for a May 7th gambling referendum in Linn County, in hopes of eventually landing a state casino license for Cedar Rapids. But Jeff Lamberti, the chairman of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, says the state’s casino industry is “mature” and regulators will consider whether a Cedar Rapids casino would draw too many customers away from an existing casino.
“I couldn’t say necessarily today whether we’re at the saturation point,” Lamberti says. “I can say we’re pretty darned close and I think that’s why you’ve seen us move with the amenities and growing in some of those areas as opposed to building new facilities.”
There are 15 state-licensed casinos operating in Iowa today. The commission recently put Sioux City’s existing casino license up for a bid after a dispute between the non-profit group that holds the license and the company that operates Sioux City’s floating casino went unresolved.
“We can get better facilities, more amenities if we’re not limited by the confines of a boat,” Lamberti says. “That doesn’t mean we’re going to shut down existing boats, but where it’s appropriate, we do want to encourage land-based facilities. We think it’s better for the customer and better for the state of Iowa.”
Lamberti made his comments Friday during taping of the “Iowa Press” program which will air on Iowa Public Television on December 28.