The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has formally responded to an eastern Iowa man who questioned whether they had the authority to deny a gambling license to a group wanting to build a casino in Cedar Rapids. Eugene Kopecky of Cedar Rapids had sued in district court, but a judge ruled he had not exhausted his appeals to the commission.
Commission chair Jeff Lamberti says the formal response ends the IRG’s action. “What our ruling does is state that we believe we acted within our authority when we denied the license in Linn County. That under Iowa law we have that authority. A referendum is simply a threshold to determine is the county has the ability to get a license — but it doesn’t require the license,” Lamberti says.
The commission unanimously approved the statement. “That’s what we always believed, that’s what our ruling says,” according to Lamberti. “And now that will exhaust administrative remedies, — if Mr. Kopecky wants to take it to district court he can.”
In other action, Lamberti was reelected as the group’s chair. He says this year should not be as busy recent years when they heard requests for new licenses. “It’s slowed down some, we did a lot of heavy lifting over the last three years. If we were going to have another like one of those, I maybe wouldn’t have done it, it is time consuming,” Lamberti says. “And even when we have meetings that move along a little faster and not as many issues — there always still seems to be a lot that goes on behind the scenes, and it still does require some time.”
The rules were changed last year to increase the term limit on the chair from two to four years. This will be Lamberti’s last year under those limits. “I enjoy doing it, and we’ve got a good group of commissioners now who’ve got several years under their belts. It makes it a lot easier because they know the issues, they understand the law. So, we’ll do this one more year,” Lamberti says. The commission met in Altoona Thursday.