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Iowa Casino and Card Room Gaming

Iowa has racinos, riverboat casinos and land-based casinos. Iowa regulations require that licensed casinos maintain a nonprofit organization with a board of trustees to oversee the distribution of funds to the county.

In June 2002, the Supreme Court of Iowa ruled that there are no grounds for continuing to treat slots at tracks differently than ones on riverboats. It declared unconstitutional the portion of the statute that mandated the discriminatory tax upon racetracks. This decision set racetrack taxes to 20% instead of the graduated structure. The decision was appealed, and in June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the state's differential tax rate did not violate the Federal Equal Protection clause. The Iowa Supreme Court's judgment was reversed, and the case was sent back to lower court. In February 2004, the Iowa Supreme Court upheld its earlier decision to declare the differential tax invalid under the Iowa Constitution since it believed that the classifications in the Code had no rational basis for a differing tax rate.

In June 2004, licensing fees for new licenses were revised. The fee schedule provided for an initial license fee that would be paid in five installments over a four-year period, with the first installment on the date the license was granted. The total fee would be calculated based on county population: $5 million for counties with a population of 15,000 or less; $10 million for counties with a population of more than 15,000 but less than 100,000; and $20 million for counties with a population of 100,000 or more.

Prior to 2007, gaming properties were required to be located on actual boats and to be able to cruise the rivers from their docks. In February 2007, the Senate State Government Committee endorsed a bill to eliminate the requirement that casinos be built over water. The bill passed in both the Senate and the House and was signed into law by the governor in May 2007.

In January 2008, gaming regulators announced their plan to reopen a debate on whether to expand Iowa's casino industry. In the same month, a pro-gambling organization announced it would collect signatures for a referendum to allow a casino resort next to Interstate Highway 80 in the city of Newton. In March 2008, Jasper County voters rejected a proposal to build a casino and resort in the town of Newton. State gambling regulators said they were in no hurry to grant any more casino licenses and wanted to commission a study of the issues, demographics and market data before accepting any more license applications. In June 2008, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) began planning a study on casino expansion, focusing on counties that had approved referenda to allow gaming.

The IRGC approved use of automated poker tables for field trial in January 2008. PokerTek, Inc. received a temporary license to manufacture and distribute its electronic poker tables.

In April 2008, a House and Senate committee reached a compromise on a smoking ban in Iowa that exempted casinos and the Iowa Veterans Home and included bars and restaurants. Under the law, smoking was allowed only on the casino gaming floors and not in the casinos' bars and restaurants. The bill passed and was signed by the governor in the same month. The law went into effect 1 July 2008.

In May 2008, the state legislature passed a law requiring casinos to run background checks on people who won $10,000 or more. If the winner owed back taxes, child support, court debts or any other financial obligation, the amount would be deducted from their winnings. The law took effect 1 July 2008.

In September 2008, Lyon County voters approved a $90 million casino and resort to be built on farmland in northwest Iowa. The proposal for the complex included a casino with 800 slot machines and 24 gaming tables. It would also include a 100-room resort, a 1,200-seat events center and an 18-hole golf course. The Grand Falls Resort and Casino opened 9 June 2011.

In 2011, the Iowa Legislature amended casino law requiring each county to reauthorize gambling through a referendum every eight years. If gambling is approved by the voters in two consecutive referendums, reauthorization is no longer necessary and will not appear on subsequent ballots.

Iowa casinos generated more than $286 million in gaming revenue and contributed over $41 million to benefit the public.

In April 2013, the IRGC approved a gambling license for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to be built in the Battery Building in Sioux City. The project is estimated at $118 million.

In March 2013, the voters of Linn County approved a ballot initiative that would allow a casino to be built in the county. In June 2013, the IRGC said it would consider an application for the Linn County license. But in April 2014, the Commission rejected the Cedar Crossing casino proposal on a 4-1 to vote, saying it would hurt existing casinos in the market.

Two months after rejecting the Linn County casino, the IRGC approved a new casino proposal in Greene County on a 3-2 vote. The vote angered supporters of the Cedar Crossing proposal. Linn County has a population of about 216,000. Greene County has a population of about 9,000.

In July 2017, the Cedar Crossing proposal re-emerged once again as part of a proposal to bring a new casino to the state. The gaming commission is slated to make its decision at a later date.

In November 2021, per state law that states voters must re-approve gaming eight years after the initial vote, nearly 90% of voters said they want the Wild Rose Casino in Greene County to remain open.

In May 2022, Iowa lawmakers passed a moratorium on new state gaming licenses until June 2024.

Shortly thereafter in May 2022, the Cedar Rapids Development Group and Linn County Gaming Association unveiled its plans for The Cedar Crossing casino near downtown Cedar Rapids at the site of the non-demolished Cooper’s Will.

Iowa Casino and Card Room Gaming Properties

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