Cedar Rapids Casino Nixed, Again, As Reynolds Signs Moratorium
[UPDATE; 6/17/22, 6:00 p.m.]: Despite a last-ditch letter from Cedar Rapids mayor Tiffany O'Donnell asking Governor Kim Reynolds to consider vetoing it, the moratorium passed last month by lawmakers banning any new casinos in Iowa through 2024 has been signed into law, according to KCRG.
The moratorium will essentially take the decision on a Linn County gaming facility out of the hands of the government-appointed Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, and deal another blow to casino backers here, who voted in favor of it in November of 2021. It also puts on hold the plans below, released last month by a prospective casino developer.
[ORIGINAL STORY; 5/21/22, 8:45 a.m.]:
As previously reported, a 2-year moratorium on newly-built Iowa casinos passed in the state legislature. It was seen as a direct slap in the face to casino backers in Cedar Rapids and Linn County who, even as Governor Kim Reynolds continues to review the moratorium legislation, are still preparing for the development of a facility in Cedar Rapids.
The new site they've chosen is at the former Cooper's Mill hotel and restaurant in Northwest Cedar Rapids.
According to KCRG:
Peninsula Pacific Entertainment previously developed the Diamond Jo Casino in Dubuque, Diamond Jo Casino in Worth County, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City.
The latter was actually among many of the properties Peninsula Pacific sold off earlier this year. There was no direct correlation implied between the sale of those properties and their possible preparation for development in Cedar Rapids.
Despite casino rejections in 2014 and 2017 by the Iowa Racing & Commission, two factors had sparked renewed hope for Linn County supporters this time:
- new members of the Racing & Gaming Commission
- another "yes" vote on a referendum last November passed by voters.
It looked closer than ever before the 2-year ban was put in place. Cedar Rapids city leaders continue to lobby Reynolds to not sign the moratorium. If she chooses not to pass it, and the proposal set forth by Peninsula Pacific goes through, it will be a hard-fought victory for casino backers that will include a facility with bars, restaurants, a “foodertainment” venue with local PGA golfer Zach Johnson’s name attached to it, and a 1,500-seat event center.