2-year moratorium on new casinos signed into law by Iowa Gov. Reynolds

There will be no casino in Cedar Rapids for at least two years after Gov. Kim Reynolds signed into law Friday a provision that places a moratorium on new casino licenses.

An amendment to a larger gambling bill means regulators cannot issue any new licenses in Iowa — including plans for a potential $250 million, 160,000 square-foot entertainment and cultural arts complex at the site of now-demolished Cooper’s Mill near downtown Cedar Rapids — until June 2024.

Citing “gambling fatigue,” the Republican-led Iowa Legislature this year approved the two-year moratorium on new casinos, essentially taking action on a matter that traditionally has been conducted by the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission.

The moratorium was inserted into House File 2497, a larger bill on state gambling regulations, in the waning days of the 2022 session. Sen. Roby Smith, a Republican from Davenport — which already has a casino — ran the amendment for the moratorium.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said she spoke with Reynolds and the governor understands signing the bill into law is “a disappointing decision for me as mayor and for the city.”