Iowa Gov. Places 2-Year Moratorium on New Casinos Due to “Gambling Fatigue”

Written by: Mike Lukas
Updated October 14, 2022
3 min read
  • Iowa Governor Signs into Law a Provision to Prevent New Casinos for Two Years
  • With 19 State-Licensed Casinos in Iowa, “Gambling Fatigue” is a Concern
  • Iowa Legalized Sports Betting in May 2019 Despite No Major Pro Teams There
Iowa Gov Places 2 Year Moratorium On New Casinos

Iowa Governor Signs Into Law a Provision to Prevent New Casinos for Two Years

After Iowa’s legislature approved an amendment to a recent gambling bill that put a two year halt to building any new casinos in the state, Governor Kim Reynolds signed it into law, a move that seemed aimed at Cedar Rapids’ multi-million dollar Cedar Crossing Casino project.

Those plans call for an extensive gambling venue to be built in Cedar Rapids – a 160,000 square-foot mega complex that would feature entertainment, cultural arts, and of course gambling, a $250 million venture that must now be put on hold due to that casino moratorium.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell called it “a disappointing decision,” but remained optimistic about the future, saying.

“The city remains committed to bringing this world-class entertainment venue to Cedar Rapids. Our citizens deserve a place to find a wide range of entertainment options and we know it will spur growth around it. It remains a priority of the city to work alongside the developer to get it done.”

That won’t be possible until at least June 2024 when the casino moratorium lifts, and by then that crowded market will no doubt have evolved and adjusted in ways that could be tough to predict right now.

With 19 State-Licensed Casinos in Iowa, “Gambling Fatigue” Is a Concern

Given that Iowa is just the 32nd most populace state in the U.S. and they already have going on two dozen casinos there, adding more casino options for those 3.2 million residents could in fact water down the product and make it even tougher for sportsbooks to make a profit.

The moratorium is a bold step for Iowa lawmakers, a possible overstep in an area typically handled by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, and it amounts to a two-year hold on any new competition in an already crowded market, good news for cities with a casino already.

That said, the Cedar Rapids casino project will still move forward with plans to restart in the summer of 2024, according to one of the main developers, with City Manager Jeff Pomeranz telling the press:

“At this time, the city has every intention of supporting the project and the investors by earmarking the property for a future casino development.”

The gaming competition in Iowa is said to be causing “gambling fatigue,” a worrisome state for a market that’s only existed since 2019.

Iowa Legalized Sports Betting in May 2019 Despite No Major Pro Teams There

Iowa is one of the earlier pioneers in the state-run legal sports betting markets that became possible once the U.S. Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, and they are among the over thirty other states who have done the same, a new tax revenue stream suddenly created.

Iowa is home to no professional sports teams, but still its residents love to gamble, as evidenced by the $3.9 billion handle they have generated since that legal market launched, an operation that the state taxed at 6.1% and has made over $17 million in revenue so far.

Whether any pro sports teams decide to move to the Hawkeye State in the future could be dependent on how much action Iowa generates, a total that will increase exponentially once Cedar Rapids gets into the mix sometime after June 2024.

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Mike Lukas

Sports Betting & Gambling Industry Analyst

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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.
Nationality: American
Education: N/A
Favourite Sportsbook: bet365 Sportsbook
Favourite Casino: Caesars Palace Casino
23 years
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