The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, on Friday, will meet for the first time ever at the Meskwaki Hotel and Casino in Tama. The casino is run by the Native American Tribe, and is not under the regulation of the state.
IRGC administrator, Brian Ohorilko, says the operators of the Meskwaki facility came up with the idea back when the commission was considering a new gambling license for Cedar Rapids in 2017. “They had asked the commission to come and visit by having a meeting at their property in an effort to really show the impact of another casino in that market,” Ohorilko explains.
He says the Meskwaki leaders were vocal in their opposition to a new casino in Linn County and wanted to show the commission why. “They wanted to demonstrate not only to the commission — but to the Iowa gaming industry the size and scope of their project and what they do — not only for their tribal members, but for the folks in Tama County in terms of employment , the jobs that they offer. And so, they had asked the commission to come for a meeting at that time,” according to Ohorilko. Ohorilko says the commission meeting sites and dates are set well in advance, and it did not work out to have them meet in Tama. But he says they looked at holding a meeting there as they prepared their calendar for this year, and Meskwaki officials were still interested in hosting a meeting. Ohorilko says the meeting will be the same as if they don’t have any formal talks scheduled, but they do expect to get a tour of the facility.
“I do expect that we’ll hear from at least their general manager, maybe more, about their property,” according to Ohorilko. “That is something that is normal — something that is typical when we do visit the casinos around the state.” The IRGC decided not to award a gambling license for a Cedar Rapids casino.
Ohorilko says market studies done prior to the decision did show that the Meskwaki casino is a competitor for more than one state-regulated casinos. “Including Prairie Meadows (Altoona), Waterloo and Riverside and so, there is a market that a number of the properties share. So, I think Tama is one that competes with all three of those markets,” Ohorilko says.
He says the trip to Tama should be educational. “I think it’s important to see what kind of impact they have on the market. The number of employees, the type of technology that they employ, the types of casino games — those are all things that are important — and certainly we can learn something. And I am sure a few of the operators will be interested as well,” Ohorilko says. The Racing and Gaming Commission’s meeting is Friday at 8:30 in the convention center at the Meskwaki Casino Hotel in Tama.