The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission today voted 3-2 to approve plans for a $40 million casino development in Jefferson, media outlets reported today.
Wild Rose Entertainment LLC plans a $40 million resort that would include slot machines, table games, an events center and a 71-room hotel, KCCI reported.
The decision came despite two casino marketing studies conducted for the commission earlier this year, The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. Both studies recommended against any new casino, concluding that the state was saturated with casinos and that any new casino would steal significant business from existing casinos.
The commission's approval of the Jefferson casino plan comes on the heels of the commission's April 17 decision to deny a state gaming license for a proposed $170-million casino along the Cedar River across from downtown Cedar Rapids. The decision was made because commissioners thought it would take business away from nearby Riverside Casino south of Iowa City, the Gazette reported.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett told The Des Moines Register that he's "happy for Jefferson," even if he questions the commission's rationale for approving the plan.
"In the environment that the Racing and Gaming Commission was stout about their comments about saturation, about cannibalism, about concern about individual operators. Those were some of the themes in why they said no to Iowa's second largest city," Corbett told the Register. "Nothing has changed in the last month and half but for some reason they said yes to Greene County."
West Des Moines-based Wild Rose Entertainment, whose chairman is Gary Kirke, currently operates casinos in Clinton and Emmetsburg. The company also had considered building casinos in Ankeny, Norwalk and Urbandale, but those plans were scrapped for various reasons.