Iowa governor signs bill to set two-year moratorium on new casino licences

Iowa;s governor has signed off on a casino moratorium.
Iowa;s governor has signed off on a casino moratorium.

The two-year moratorium on casino licences in Iowa will block P2E’s Cedar Rapids casino project in Linn County.

US.- Iowa governor Kim Reynolds has signed into law a measure that places a two-year moratorium on new casino licences. The moratorium was passed by the Iowa Legislature last month. The move will block P2E’s Cedar Rapids casino project in Linn County.

The moratorium is part of House File 2497, a broader law on gaming and regulations. The bill was passed 35-11 in the Iowa Senate and later 60-23 in the Iowa House.

Cedar Rapids mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said that Reynolds was aware that her signing the bill was “a disappointing decision for me as mayor and for the city.”

According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, she said: “I expressed to her my disappointment and reassured her that Cedar Rapids would still be here when the moratorium is lifted in two years.”

Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, who chairs the House State Government Committee, said the objective was to preserve an “equilibrium” in the number of casinos. Kaufmann said he was concerned that with 19 state-licensed casinos, and 23 casinos in total, Iowa’s gambling market was saturated, which could impact on casinos’ donations to local nonprofits.

The Iowa Gaming Association’s president, Wes Ehrecke, said the group supports the moratorium. However, Linn County Gaming Association president Anne Parmley said the moratorium was “clearly targeting” the county. 

The Cedar Rapids casino project

In March, the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission opened the licence application process for a new casino in Cedar Rapids, Linn County, after around 55 per cent of voters in Linn County, Iowa, said yes to a casino last November.

Attempts to bring a casino to Cedar Rapids failed in 2014 and 2017. On both occasions, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission said a casino would take funds from other casinos.

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