Casinos increasingly local attractions, analyst tells Iowa regulators – Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier

EMMETSBURG — Casinos in Iowa increasingly are local attractions and not destinations, bolstering the potential of how much new money a downtown Cedar Rapids casino could generate for the state, a market consultant told state gambling regulators meeting here Thursday.

Brent Wittenberg, vice president for Minneapolis-based Marquette Advisors, told the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission participation rates have peaked with the exception of local markets where new casino development or expansion has occurred.

“The drawing power of Iowa casinos is increasingly local,” he said.

The five-member commission is tasked with deciding whether Cedar Rapids gets a casino license and — if so — which of three proposals it accepts. That decision is expected Nov. 15.

Thursday, the regulators heard from Marquette and WhiteSand Gaming of Atlantic City, which both studied the potential market impact of the three options:

The $40 million Wild Rose Cedar Rapids next to the Skogman Building on First Avenue SE with 15 to 20 table games and 600 to 700 slot machines;

The $105 million Cedar Crossing Central attached to the DoubleTree Hotel on First Avenue NE with 15 table games and 550 slot machines;

The $165 million Cedar Crossing on the River on vacant land at First Avenue and First Street SW with 30 table games and 840 slot machines.

The commission in 2014 rejected an application virtually identical to Cedar Crossing on the River by a 4-1 vote, citing market study predictions it would take too much share from other casinos, notably the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort.

Commissioners probed why Marquette’s projections changed so much since 2014, when it also studied the market impact for Cedar Crossing and Wild Rose Jefferson, which was ultimately

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