The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted to award a gambling license to Greene County for a proposed casino near Jefferson. The vote this morning was 3 to 2. Commission chair Jeff Lamberti issued the deciding vote and said while the new casino might take some business away from Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Polk County can “recover” as the county “has many advantages the rest of the state doesn’t have.”
Commissioner Carl Heinrich of Council Bluffs voted against granting a gambling license to Greene County. Heinrich said he thinks the impact of a new casino would be significant, and it would impact other casinos, most notably Prairie Meadows.
Delores Mertz of Algona said she believes the new casino might hurt Prairie Meadows, but she still voted in favor of expansion. Mertz said rural Iowa is missing something and the casino can help fill that void with a “little piece of the action.” Mertz was the only commissioner to vote for the Cedar Rapids casino that failed to win a license on a 4-1 vote in April.
Kristine Kramer of New Hampton voted against granting a license and said she feels the community needs a new hotel and other amenities, but not gaming.
Rich Arnold of Russell says it was a “very, very difficult decision,” but he voted in favor of the new license.