Despite enthusiasm from five Iowa communities for new casinos in their areas, state gambling regulators have made it clear that their decision yesterday to accept applications for casino licences will not guarantee that new licences will be granted. Lyon, Franklin and Tama counties and Ottumwa and Fort Dodge are seeking casino development but Iowa already has 17 state-regulated casinos and three tribal operations – one of which recently suspended operations.
Casino Omaha not long ago was a thriving business but the economic downturn caused it to close on 30 June. The Omaha tribe is hoping to re-open the casino in a few months and is looking for a business partner to finance a refurbishment programme. The communities seeking the employment and revenues they believe a casino would bring will face a tough task to convince gambling regulators. Any new casino in Iowa may well cause job losses and lower profits in existing casinos.
The Commission has agreed to accept licence applications until 1 October 2009, but has not set a date for making decisions. Consultants have warned that with the exception of Lyon County new casinos would harm business at other casino properties. Commissioner Paul Hayes commented, "This is going to be a much more complicated process to granting licenses than it has been in the past. It is not going to be as simple as pointing out all the wonderful economic benefits." (E-07.17.09)
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