Linn County voters approved referendum to allow gambling in the county last month and now plans the proposed casino project are coming into focus. A demolition crew is tearing down buildings that were damaged in the Cedar Rapids flood of 2008 at the site where investor Steve Gray hopes to build a casino.
“What we’re envisioning now are two upscale restaurants, two other entertainment venues — probably a sports bar — and than another for lack of a better word, a nightclub type setting,” Gray says. Gray led the multi-million dollar campaign to get the referendum to pass approving gambling in Linn County.
Now, he and his investor group are preparing a formal proposal to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which can still turn it down. Commission Chairman Jeff Lamberti says they’ll likely do a study to see how a Cedar Rapids casino would affect others nearby.
“It’s been quite some time since a study has been done in the area, and unfortunately the way the code is written, there isn’t much of guideline on what is too much impact on another facility,” Lamberti says. Gray is optimistic that the proposal they present the commission requesting a gambling license will be approved.
“We feel pretty good about our chances of getting it done. And we feel that in the studies that we have had commissioned, that we feel pretty good about our numbers, and it will not devastate any of the surrounding markets,” Gray says. In the coming weeks, Gray said the casino investors will seek approval from the City Council, and hire a company to operate the casino.
Voters in central Iowa’s Warren County will go to the polls in May to vote on whether or not to allow gambling. Developers want to build a casino complex in the northwest corner of the county.
Lamberti said at the Racing and Gaming Commission’s meeting in March that they would also discuss the possibility of a casino in Warren County and other areas that have an interest before awarding any new gambling licenses.