The leader of the group pushing for a casino license for Cedar Rapids says they aren’t giving up.
Linn County Gaming Association board president Anne Parmley says the group had hoped the governor wouldn’t sign the bill that puts licenses on hold. “Well, I think it would have been pessimistic not to hold out hope. So yes, we held out a little hope, but figured this probably would be the outcome,” she says.
The bill the governor signed into law Friday freezes the casino licenses at 19 for the next two years. Parmley’s group had artist renderings of the facility done and was preparing for the license approval process to start. “How we look at it now is we have to wait two years and work over those two years to ensure that things move forward in two years, so we can build that facility out and start gaining the benefits for Linn County,” Parmley says.
Parmley says they’ll continue working on their plan and keep supporters up-to-date. “Standing in front of city council letting them know what’s going on, as well as the supervisors, those groups have been incredibly supportive of this effort and will continue to be active with them in understanding what’s going to happen,” Parmley says. ” I think this gives developers more time to just kind of moved the whole concept, location and all that forward.”
The Republican leader in the Iowa Senate, Jack Whitver, said “gaming fatigue” led lawmakers to the temporary moratorium as they want to see how things shake out. Parmley says the gambling competition with the border states of Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Illinois is one of the things that could be an impact in the next two years. And the concern will remain about how a Cedar Rapids casino impacts existing casinos.
She expects another study to look at that issue as well. “And I think that study would both look at cannibalization as well as you know, within the state but across the borders, and really given us better information to look at as far as what that exactly means these days,” she says.
Parmley says the moratorium is disappointing — but they have to move forward. “You kind of have to figure out what’s in your control. And right now, the two-year delay is not in our control. So we just have to push forward and we’re really excited about what’s possible,” according to Parmley. “The city is very much behind, pushing forward, despite the delay, and getting really excited about what that side of the river could look like with this facility.”
The license moratorium will expire in July of 2024.