Gov. Reynolds signs Iowa casino moratorium into law

Iowa casino moratorium approved
Iowa casino moratorium approved
Governor Kim Reynolds recently signed a bill that prevents Iowa regulators from approving new casino licenses until at least July 2024. (Photo: Kelsey Kremer – USA Today/Reuters)

The casino moratorium in Iowa, which prevents the Iowa Racing and Gambling Commission (IRGC) from awarding new gaming licenses for a minimum of two years, has gained the approval of Governor Kim Reynolds.

The Assembly File 2497 was delivered to the governor’s office by the Iowa Assembly one month ago. The main focus of the gaming plan is on regulatory issues, such as the adoption of cashless betting. However, legislators managed to sneak in a catch that prevents any new gaming licenses from being awarded until at least July 1, 2024.

Without allowing for any public input, Reynolds signed the bill into law. On the website for the governor, it was simply stated that on Friday, June 17, she signed a number of bills into law, one of which was an act pertaining to casino regulation and betting.

READ: Plans for $250m casino development in Linn County, Iowa

Because HF 2497 is now a law, the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission will not be able to grant licenses to operate additional casinos until July 2024. Nevertheless, there are certain exceptions to this rule, such as the provision that allows the IRGC to provide its approval to existing companies that are looking to move their activities to a different location within the same region.

As long as the casino stays in the same location, the IRGC can also sanction the purchase of a casino license by another authorized corporation. The state may also arrange an option for bidders on a gaming license in the event that a casino is forced to close its doors and relinquish its gaming license.

The Iowa gambling industry was a strong proponent of the two-year embargo on the issuance of new casino licenses. In the wake of the epidemic and the construction of casinos in neighboring Nebraska, the 19 commercial riverboat and land-based casinos that operate inside the state of Iowa were successful in persuading policymakers in Des Moines that the state requires a secure and governed gaming industry.

Cedar Rapids locals renew push for casino development

A group of local entrepreneurs in Cedar Rapids has rekindled efforts to enable the state’s second-most populous city to establish a casino of its very own. There are approximately 80 investors involved in the Cedar Rapids Development Group. 

A casino license application submitted by the collective development enterprise in 2014 and 2017 was both rejected by the IRGC on the grounds that there were already an excessive number of casinos in the area. In 2022, the Cedar Rapids Development Group returned to bargaining, and this time they were lobbying on behalf of the resort’s intention to donate its estimated $250 million to local charitable organizations. In addition to this, the casino, which will be known as ‘Cedar Crossing’, has committed to constructing a brand new flood block on the western bank of the Cedar River.

At the beginning of June, the mayor of Cedar Rapids submitted a letter to Reynolds requesting her to reject the two-year casino embargo provision that was included in HF 2497. O’Donnell stated this week that the governor has communicated to her that she feels that an interim stop of the state’s gaming business will better enable research to be completed on the influence that a casino in Cedar Rapids could have on the economy.

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