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One Step Closer to Linn County Casino

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) The Cedar Rapids Development Group is one step closer to building a casino in downtown Cedar Rapids. The investment group recently named JNB Gaming as its operator and partner. Picking an operator was a necessary step for the group to complete its application for a casino license.

"They definitely have Midwestern roots, have been successful here with their prior ownership in Peninsula Gaming, said Brent Oleson of the Linn County Racing and Gaming Association.

"Great operators, strong relationship with the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, said Lead Investor of the Cedar Rapids Development Group Steve Gray.

Its good relationship with the commission could come in handy when the application is turned in to that body in the fall.

"We'll submit our application on September 3rd and hopefully by the second quarter of next year, 2014, the commission will decide favorably and allow us to build our casino, said Gray.

JNB will be responsible for overseeing the construction of the casino as well as its day-to-day operations once the building is completed. But thats still roughly a year away if the state approves their license. The project has already relocated some local businesses, leading to two empty lots in the middle of downtown.

Not everybody is buying into the idea that a casino will make Cedar Rapids a better place.

"Each dollar that you possess, you can only spend it one time. So if you spend it in a casino, you can't spend it in your local grocery store, said Frank King, who opposes building the casino.

To that, Gray says he has precedent on his side.

"Show us a place in Iowa where a land-based casino's been built and it negatively impacted the community, said Gray. There's no example of that in the state."

"I believe a casino basically draws money from other businesses and deposits it in the casino investors' bank account, said King.

Once the application is submitted to the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, it will take about six to eight months to be reviewed before its approved or denied. If all goes according to plan, the project could break ground as early as April of 2014.
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