Cedar Rapids To Extend Development Agreement

Although the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission denied a gaming license to Cedar Rapids Development Group, the Cedar Rapids city council plans to extend its agreement with the investors into 2019. Mayor Ron Corbett said he'll work on changing Iowa's gaming laws to allow a smoke-free casino, the state's first, in Cedar Rapids.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa city council will add two years to its five-year agreement with Cedar Rapids Development Group, a casino investor group led by Steve Gray, and its nonprofit partner Linn County Gaming Association. The agreement now will run through Oct. 9, 2019. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said, “We want to show the local investor group that we’re in this for the long haul.”

The agreement extension came about as the city offered to buy two properties at the proposed casino site from Gray’s group. The city owns most of the land there through the city’s flood recovery buyout program. The casino investors bought two parcels for $2.05 million to show the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission they and the city controlled the entire casino site and building could begin immediately following licensing. The city has offered to buy the two parcels for $415,000, which would give them complete control of the casino site. Said Gray, “Simply stated, we have a lot of money invested in these properties, believe they are best owned by the city and one of our requests was to extend the exclusivity. The city has agreed.”

The agreement with Gray’s group and the non-profit was signed in October 2012 to acknowledge that Cedar Rapids Development Group would make a substantial investment to gain the approval of Linn County voters, develop a casino plan and attempt to obtain a state license. However, in April, the IRGC voted 4-1 against a casino license for the investors’ Cedar Crossing Casino. Commissioners said the casino would take too much business from existing casinos, especially the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort. In addition, the commission recently said it would not consider any new casino applications for the next three years. But Corbett recently repeated that he, city officials and area legislators will work on passing state gaming reforms, including allowing Iowa’s first smoke-free casino in Cedar Rapids, in the upcoming legislative session. “Three years from now, there may be new faces and a different attitude on the commission. In the meantime, we have this opportunity in front of the legislature this January for a smoke-free casino. As I’ve been out and about this summer and fall, I’ve had a lot of people push me on the non-smoking casino idea,” he said.