Iowa Legislature Passes 2-Year Moratorium Barring New Casinos
This is certainly going to knock the wind out of Linn County casino backers who may have felt closer now than ever to achieving their endgame of having a new casino developed in Cedar Rapids.
Bids for construction were underway, and one of the top contenders sold off an Iowa casino property it owned, as well as several others, potentially to prepare for the development here. After rejections in 2014 and 2017, a fresh group of faces on the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, who must approve the license, gave supporters a glimmer of hope. The referendum was back on the ballot last November, where it passed with voters. Seemingly all that was left was to decide on a new potential site after the original choice was relinquished for the multi-use "First and First" project.
But despite all that, a new moratorium just passed in the Iowa legislature, according to KCRG. The moratorium would not allow the licensing of any new casinos in the entire state through at least 2024. Per Siouxland News," the new language added to HF 2497, says the number of total licenses the commission can issue should remain at 19 until 2024."
The odds seemingly continue to be stacked against those hoping for a casino in Cedar Rapids. "It also states that any existing casinos can move locations or build new locations if they stay in the county."
As you might expect, Cedar Rapids mayor Tiffany O'Donnell, city leaders, and casino voters in Cedar Rapids and Linn County are taking issue, according to the Gazette:
It’s incredibly disappointing that this can happen seemingly in the dark of night without the city to even have the opportunity to respond,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said after the vote. “It’s disappointing knowing the voters wanted the casino, the amount of time money and effort from investors as well as from the governor’s appointed Racing and Gaming Commission, that something like this can happen so quickly without any of us knowing about it
The moratorium has passed in both the House and Senate and is now on the desk of Governor Reynolds.
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