Cedar Rapids Voters To See Casino Referendum on November Ballot
Cedar Rapids is set for a mayoral race this fall and votes on city council members. According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, those candidates have another issue to debate after the Linn County Board of Supervisors agreed Wednesday to have county staff draft a resolution with language to renew a referendum to allow a casino on the November 2 ballot.
Does this mean a casino is coming to Cedar Rapids?
Not necessarily, and not likely. While voters have previously approved the pursuit of a casino in Cedar Rapids, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has to sign off on it, and they already turned it down twice, in 2014 and 2017. The location previously earmarked for a casino has also been dropped in favor of other projects so a new one would have to be developed. Plus, after a failed $2.2 million campaign to push for it last time around, are voters ready to approve another sales tax referendum to pursue it?
Why isn't Cedar Rapids giving up on a casino?
Cedar Rapids has a memorandum of understanding through October 9, 2029, with a group called Cedar Rapids Development Group. They continue, despite the many rejections, to work on developing a casino proposal, because they are being paid $75,000 a year by the city to do so.
There is a morsel of hope for Cedar Rapids to roll the dice again
The last remaining member of the Iowa Racing and Commission to previously vote against the casino license for Cedar Rapids had her term expire April 30. It's possible a group of several new commissioners could approve this time around.
In the end, it's probably not going to happen
With legalized sports betting approved by Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa gambling enthusiasts now have more options. Depending on who you ask, Nebraska's passage of legalized gambling could either be seen as hope for Cedar Rapids casino supporters or, more likely, further oversaturation in the market that was a likely factor in Linn County getting turned down previously.