Wild Rose Casinos which operates casinos in Jefferson, Clinton and Emmetsburg has teamed up with developers Hunter Parks and Steve Emerson to propose a boutique casino in Cedar Rapids. This new casino proposal is different from the earlier Cedar Rapids casino proposal which was rejected by the Iowa Racing and Commission.
The proposal that was rejected was of a much larger scale as the developers were looking to invest around $174 million in to a casino facility that would have 840 slot machines, 30 table games, a hotel, multiple restaurants and employ around 470 people. The casino was expected to generate around $80 million each year.
Wild Rose Casinos has deliberately focused on a much smaller casino as they believe this proposal has a better opportunity of gaining the necessary approvals. The boutique casino will be located opposite the Double Tree Hotel and Convention Center, on First Avenue E in a four-storey building that has a skywalk to the hotel. The land is owned by Emerson and hence no extra money needs to be paid to acquire the site. A gaming floor covering 25,000 square feet will be developed on the second floor. The boutique casino is expected to have a maximum of 700 slot machines and 20 table games.
The total investment into the boutique casino will be $40 million and it will have a limited number of restaurants as the developers want to make sure that it does not negatively impact the business of other restaurants downtown. The casino is expected to generate around $42 million each year and contribute 4.5 to 6 percent of these proceeds to charity, as other Wild Rose casinos in Iowa do. The mandatory amount to be contributed is fixed at 3 percent.
In a statement, Tom Timmons, president and chief operating officer of Wild Rose Entertainment said “I am not guaranteeing what the Iowa Racing and Commission will do — you’ll never hear me say that — but I think this project has merits in that it is scaled down from what was being proposed before. We listened to what the commission said last time and we want to have something that makes sense and fits and works to make this successful.”
Parks believes that the boutique casino will have a positive impact on the area as well as local bars and restaurants due to the additional visitors that the facility will attract. He stated that Wild Rose would also consider the possibility of bringing in musical and other entertaining events to the facility.
Wells Gaming Research from Reno, Nevada has been hired by Wild Rose to carry out an economic study. The study will be completed in six to eight weeks, after which Wild Rose will conduct public forums to get feedback on the boutique casino proposal. Timmons stated that a license application will be prepared and submitted before the end of this year or even sooner.