- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - A proposed Cedar Rapids casino would dramatically reduce the revenue of casinos in eastern Iowa, according to a consulting group hired by one of those possibly affected casinos.

The study filed recently by New Orleans-based The Innovation Group says the proposed casino would take away $28 million annually from the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, The Des Moines Register reported (https://dmreg.co/1cq3Z0j ). The research also says the new casino would take a total of $62 million from state-regulated casinos in eastern Iowa.

The Innovation Group was hired by Riverside; it’s a fact not ignored by supporters of a new casino. Steve Gray, chairman of the Cedar Rapids Development Group, is proposing a $150 million casino and entertainment complex in downtown Cedar Rapids.

“This is an outdated and flawed study that is not based upon the project actually proposed for Cedar Rapids,” Gray said in a statement, in reference to the study being conducted in February 2013.

The Innovation Group’s study says several casinos would lose money annually; $6 million in Davenport; $5 million in Bettendorf; $2 million in Clinton; $6 million in Dubuque; $11 million in Waterloo. The Meskwaki tribal casino near Tama would lose $10.5 million, according to the report.

“The overall gambling market is saturated,” said Jeff Link, a strategic adviser for Riverside casino. “We think that the combined cannibalization will defeat the casino application in Cedar Rapids.”

Gray added in his statement that there’s enough room in the gambling market for an urban casino in Cedar Rapids, and referenced a study conducted by TMG Consulting that was also recently presented to the commission. It estimated a loss of less than $8 million in Riverside; $8.7 million in Tama; $4 million in Waterloo; less than $2 million in Dubuque.

Link said the TMG report does not include data on Riverside’s players, such as zip codes and the number of times they visit the casino. Officials for the casino, located about 12 miles south of Iowa City, say a new Cedar Rapids casino would also force employee layoffs.

The commission is conducting its own independent research on the state’s gambling market. It’s scheduled to make a decision in April over whether to grant a license for a new casino in Cedar Rapids. It’s also set to decide in June on a license for a casino in Jefferson, about 65 miles northwest of Des Moines.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com


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