Plans are moving ahead for a possible casino in Cedar Rapids even though a vote on allowing gambling in Linn County is still two weeks away. Investors pushing Linn County voters to approve casino gambling in the vote on March fifth say they want to locate a casino adjacent to Interstate 380 in downtown Cedar Rapids.
Steve Gray leads the development group and says the preferred site on the west bank of the Cedar River is highly visible and easily accessible and he contends it’ll be a major partner in bringing business to the downtown hotel and convention center that’s now owned by the City of Cedar Rapids.
“If we can help with the money that we’ve got invested in that convention center and in that hotel to become a good partner and drive the success of that, it de-risks things for those of us as taxpayers. And I can see us help subsidize entertainment, using a lot of those rooms, which then becomes a win, win, win,” Gray says. “It’s a win for us, it’s a win for the city, and it’s great for the taxpayers.”
Two existing casinos, the Isle of Capri in Waterloo and Riverside Casino and Golf Resort have contributed to the “Just Say No Casino” effort to defeat gambling referendum as the operators of those casinos believe a new facility in Cedar Rapids would cut into their business.
The gambling referendum is just one step in the process, as developers would still have to convince the Racing and Gaming Commission to grant them a license if the referendum passes.