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July 02, 2013

At Lakeside Casino near Osceola, Iowa on Thursday, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission met with Cedar Rapids city leaders and investors backing a proposed casino in the city. The lead investors for the proposed casino were Drew Skogman and Steve Gray. Two of the commission members on hand served in the State Legislature with Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett, Chairman Jeff Lamberti and Commissioner Rich Arnold. Two other commissioners were also present at the meeting Commissioner Kris Kramer and Commissioner Carl Heinrich. The topic of the meeting was Iowa's $1.5 billion casino industry.

It was stipulated at the meeting that Gray's investor group must have its gambling license application submitted by September 3, 2013. Gray commented after the meeting "We've got a lot of work to do, but we're optimistic." The commission also stipulated that it would hire firms to do two studies on the gambling market. One would be focused on Linn County, where Cedar Rapids is located, and the other would be a statewide study. The issue would be what kind of impact a new casino would have on the existing market.

When asked if the market studies would just be a formality, Chairman Jeff Lamberti strongly disagreed. "I think, certainly give a lot of credit to the people who put together the yes vote, they certainly, I think, exceeded most people's expectations on the margin. When we're looking at a new facility, however, the overriding factor is the impact of a new facility on existing facilities. Now, we have casinos that people have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in. A huge factor is what's the impact? So a market study in particular in Linn County is going to be extremely important," he said. The three other commissioners also strongly agreed with the chairman's view that the market studies would be the deciding factor in whether a state license is issued.

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