Tracking the ups and downs of local cities in the US trying to get legal casino gambling has been a challenge, but well worth it. Unfortunately, in order to cover the good, we also have to cover the bad. You will quickly find that things aren’t the way they appear in the casino gambling world from a legislative point of view. Even though Mayor Ron Corbett of Cedar Rapids, IA pushed for the casino development (a $164 million dollar development), and the Iowa Gaming Commission didn’t see things in the same light.
Indeed, the 5-4 decision from the IGC was in favor of not allowing the $164 million dollar project to go forward. Their reasoning was simple: it would simply hurt the business of other casinos in the area, and could not be allowed to pass.
This is a blow to the Cedar Rapids community, but it’s one that the community will take in stride.
The idea of the surrounding casinos crying foul might seem laughable, but it’s far from a joke. Waterloo, Dubuque, and Riverside have casino developments. Since those casinos were built in 2007, they have pulled gambling traffic away from Cedar Rapids. It seems unfortunate that now that there’s support for a casino in Cedar Rapids, the surrounding casinos feel that it’s going to take too much from their own casino holdings.
What else is on the line in this situation? Jobs, of course. Indeed, if you are already established in an area, you would naturally worry about the jobs on the line if conditions change. While it can be argued that casinos should work on being as competitive as possible, rather than just protecting their little mock-fiefdoms, the truth is that an area can ideally only support so much gambling.
Is that really the case though? Current sentiment in the country is that gambling is healthy for communities, as it provides yet another vehicle for tourism. If you think about it, that line of reasoning makes a lot of sense.
Unfortunately, state gaming commissions are more concerned about not upsetting the status quo than bringing in real progress. What do you think? Do you feel that Cedar Rapids could benefit from a casino, or would you rather the residents simply drive to Riverside or Waterloo for their gambling fun?
Hopefully these issues will highlight the biggest problem of all: how do you bring the openness of gambling to the local scene, while maintaining a high standard for quality, fairness, and regulation?