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Two-Year Moratorium to Block Casino Licenses in Iowa


Iowa lawmakers have decided that they want to put the brakes on casino licenses as both the state House and Senate agree on putting a two-year moratorium on issuing new license approvals. One of the regions that are negatively impacted by this decision is Cedar Rapids, whose mayor said that the city was left in the dark when the decision was brought. Now, the bill needs to be signed by Governor Kim Reynolds in order to become a law.

Cedar Rapids’ Mayor Expressed Her Disappointment With the Decision

While speaking about the decision, Tiffany O’Donnell, the mayor of Cedar Rapids, stated that it’s “incredibly disappointing” that stuff like this can happen without the city actually knowing about it. She also added that everyone approved new casinos, even the voters.

Not only that but the time and money that was invested into all of that makes the situation even harder to cope with. Cedar Rapids has an agreement with a Peninsula Pacific Entertainment subsidiary called Cedar Rapids Development Group.

The subsidiary is made up of local investors and thanks to this agreement, the city is bound to display its support for the casino development process.

Peninsula Pacific Entertainment’s president, Jonathan Swain, also commented on the development and stated that local investors are convinced that as long as they are patient, the project will come to life. Peninsula Pacific Entertainment is the operator of the potential casino set to be built in Cedar Rapids.

Swain added that whenever the opportunity is given to them, all local investors will take full advantage of it. He also stated that the recent events come as a surprise, however, the company will keep its commitment and will maintain its focus on the future.

The Moratorium Is Part of House File 2497

House File 2497 represents a broader law on gaming and regulation in Iowa. Iowa’s Senate passed the bill with a 35-11 vote, while the House’s vote was 60-23. The Senate did not even have a debate on the matter and Republican Senator Roby Smith (Davenport) shared what the moratorium actually means.

In his words, the number of licenses will be capped at 19 for the next 2 years. Iowa Gaming Association’s president, Wes Ehrecke, stated that the group supports the moratorium. Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (Wilton), also supports the bill. He thinks that the cap on casino licenses is enough because the gambling market in Iowa is saturated. Those that oppose this opinion state that the gambling market is growing and the state needs to react to it.

Kaufmann added that anything beyond this point would be considered cannibalization. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission has already rejected two casino proposals in Cedar Rapids. In March, the commission stated that it will accept applications for a casino in Linn County, which is the site where Peninsula Pacific Entertainment is looking to capitalize on.

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