New Boutique Casino Being Considered in Iowa

by Jim Hall

Reports emerged late last week that a new boutique casino is in the works for the downtown area of Cedar Rapids.

Wild Rose Casino & ResortNew casinos seem to be popping up all over the United States over the past few weeks and months. All eyes have been on the state of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut as the states have been working on new casino venues in some form or fashion. Now it seems that the state of Iowa is considering a new casino, this time a boutique venue to be located in the downtown area of Cedar Rapids.

The Wild Rose Resorts Company, based in West Des Moines, is the casino operator proposing the project and if the option is approved, the cost would be around $40 million for the project to be completed. Talk has now begun as to if the plan will be approved. Back in 2014, a plan was rejected by the state Racing and Gaming Commission that would have created a venue called Cedar Crossing Casino that would have cost $174 million to create. The gaming commission did not approve this plan as they felt it would take away revenues from other gaming properties.

Support for the Cedar Rapids Project

After the news was released on the project by Wild Rose Resorts, officials of Council Bluffs showed their support for the gaming project. Officials stated that the boutique casino will have little to no impact on the gaming venues located nearby. Council Bluffs has two casinos that are located near to Cedar Rapids.

Horseshoe and Harrah’s Casinos Marketing Director in Council Bluffs, Jill Beasley, stated that a venue in Cedar Rapids would not be likely to affect their gaming revenues in a negative manner as the gambling patrons who frequent her facilities come from Council Bluffs-Omaha area.

Project Plans

The plans for the new venue are quite interesting. Wild Rose Cedar Rapids would include a parking lot on the first floor with the casino gaming floor being located on the second floor. The third floor and fourth floor would feature commercial space. At this point, there are no plans for entertainment venues, restaurants or hotels. The venue will be more focused on gaming aspects and has plans to have as many as 700 slot machines plus 15 to 20 table gaming options.

The plans seem to be accepted by the local officials but the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission may be another story. The commission will have to be convinced that the gaming venue will not have a negative impact on the gambling market of the state which already seems to be saturated. The Wild Rose Resorts group seems to have still have plenty of time to prepare for providing their proposal to the council in the hopes of seeing the venue approved.

The state casino regulator does not readily approve casino projects and if the decision on another plan in recent years for Cedar Rapids was not approved, it may be that this project will not be approved as well. The commission seems to think a venue in the area would steal customers away from other properties.

Another factor that may be applied is a three year moratorium on casino applications. This was put in place informally in 2014 after the Wild Rose Casino was licensed for the Jefferson area. This moratorium will expire in 2017 so there will still be one more year to go before the project for Cedar Rapids can be considered by the gambling commission.

For now, Wild Rose has plenty of time to solidify their plans and prepare for a presentation in the hopes of seeing their boutique casino project coming to fruition.