The gambling license awarded Greene County is likely the last opportunity for a new casino that’ll be approved by the Racing and Gaming Commission anytime soon.
Commission chair Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny told those waiting for the Greene County decision last week that a definitive statement on the issue is coming. “You can fully expect that in our next meeting in July we will be making some statement about where this current commission sees the future…obviously the issue being any future expansion of gaming in Iowa,” Lamberti says.
The commissioners voted 4-1 in April to deny a license to Linn County for a proposed casino in Cedar Rapids and the Greene County vote was 3-2. Radio Iowa asked Lamberti if the 2 license votes indicate a move toward putting a hold on expansion. “I think that’s a safe assumption,” Lamberti says, “I think the thing that we’ll talk about over the next month or so is what that looks like in terms of an action or statement from the commission about what we expect.”
Lamberti was the deciding vote for the Greene County casino, and says he went back and forth before deciding to say yes. Other commissioners said the same thing. “I think this vote clearly reflects a belief that this is a saturated market,” Lamberti says.
He says the commission’s statement in July could give a time limit to wait until deciding on any new licenses. “That’s been kind of historic where commission have come out and said ‘we have no appetite to even come out and consider growth for the X-number of years.’ And so, we’ll spend the next month trying to figure out what that is,” Lamberti says.
The IRGC’s next regular meeting is July 31st in Johnston.