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Casino Approved In Jefferson

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Just two months after the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said the state was over-saturated with casinos, they approved a casino proposal for Jefferson, in Greene County.

The Commission says the Jefferson proposal is much different than the one put up by the Cedar Rapids Development Group two months ago. Jefferson Got the two votes from the Commission that the City of Five Seasons couldn't.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett says he's happy for one of his fellow Iowa cities, it's the Commission he's surprised by.

"I do support a competitive model for gaming in the state of Iowa," said Corbett. "That's why I'm happy for them."

But for the five Racing and Gaming Commissioners who said n-o to C-R and yes out west, "it's really confusing to me," said Corbett. "I don't get it.

"Disappointment and disgust," said Cedar Rapids City Councilman Justin Shields. "All of those emotions were going through me."

Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission Chair Jeff Lamberti says it was a tough decision, but comparing the Cedar Rapids and Jefferson proposals isn't going to help.

"There's just no overlap of facts," said Lamberti. "The only overlap is how you address it and how you look at the criteria."

He said the cannibalization that the Cedar Crossing Casino would have had on riverside was well over 25%. It also would have seriously affected places to gamble in Waterloo. He said it would have been a historic shift for the commission to approve a casino in Cedar Rapid with that much impact on existing locations.

"And quite frankly, I felt today, with a projected impact of between three and seven percent that was getting pretty borderline to whether I could vote in favor," said Lamberti.

Now, Lamberti says at the end of next month, the commission will likely make some kind of statement about how they see the future of gambling in Iowa.

"That's fairly consistent with what commissions have done in the past after licenses have been issued or applications have been gone through," said Lamberti.

As for the chance that they'll approve any casinos sometime soon, "in general, I think we all think the market is pretty saturated," said Lamberti.

Mayor Corbett says the land in Cedar Rapids where the proposed casino was going to go is still extremely valuable and he hasn't given up trying to get a casino license for that plot of land. He says he just hopes everyone else hasn't given up either.
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