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Plans for Casino To Go Before State Regulators

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--The controversial plan to build a casino in Cedar Rapids takes its next step tomorrow, halfway across Iowa.

State regulators will formally hear about the plan for the first time.

Some businesses see the possibility of a casino as a positive thing for the city's west side.

"It will spur economic development. It will bring visitors. It will support all the investments we've made in the entertainment venues,” said Al Pierson, owner of Pierson’s Flower Shop

The plan is to build an $85,000,000 casino between first and third avenues.

There will be lots of construction jobs, and dozens more after it opens to the public as well as additional flood protection on the west side of the river.

"So this will just add one more piece to west side flood protection and after this last weekend, I think people realize how important that is,” said Mayor Ron Corbett.

Al Pierson agrees because in 2008 his shop was submerged in water. He says a casino is a good idea because its profits will go towards building better flood protection.

Those opposing the casino say calling it flood protection is a red herring.

"The Cedar Rapids casino is not about flood protection it's about money, money for the investors, tax revenue for the city and the county,” said Scott Stine of Just Say No Casino.

Pierson says if the casino has to build a flood wall to protect itself that helps everyone, but he's more interested in redevelopment.

"This city is doing much better and expanding our entertainment options and we could really use this to help round out all the improvements,” he said.

That's why city leaders will be in Osceola Thursday to hear the project developer's pitch.

CBS 2 News has been told it could take up to six months for the state racing and gaming commission to decide whether to approve the gambling license.


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