An effort is underway to get people out to vote on a gambling referendum for Linn County.

Linn County Gaming Association president, Anne Parmley, says a positive vote would renew the original referendum. “In eight years you need to pass it again if there hasn’t been a casino license granted. So, we are at the eight-year mark and we are ready to approve it again. And once it is approved it’s approved in perpetuity,” Parmley says.

The first license required gathering enough signatures to call for a vote — but the second time is different. “The signatures don’t need to be gathered as they were last time because the Linn County Board of Supervisors has approved this vote to be on the ballot on November 2nd, so we get to forgo that process. Right now the Linn County Gaming Association, the Cedar Rapids Development Group, and other stakeholders are really involved in educating the public,” according to Parmley.

Parmley says there is support for the referendum. “It passed by 61 percent I believe last time. Early polling shows even more support. And gaming has become much more acceptable as far a form of entertainment…so we think in general that’ll all lead to more support,” she says.

The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has voted down two applications for a gambling license in Cedar Rapids — the last was on a 3-2 vote in November of 2017. Parmley says the long-term goal is to bring a casino there. “First things first is the referendum,” Parmley says, “and then we’ll look at the environment and look at all that to determine the application process. Our hope is that the commission would support a casino in Linn County and we could move forward after the referendum is passed.”

The Racing and Gaming commissioners who voted against the license for a casino in Cedar Rapids in 2017 cited the impact on existing casinos as their main reason.