Bemrich weighs in on C.R. casino proposal

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich was among those who spoke against the possibility of awarding a casino license to Cedar Rapids Thursday.

Bemrich said Thursday afternoon that he told the commission members that they were not following their usual procedure for considering casino licenses. He was among several opponents of the planned casino who spoke to the panel during its Thursday morning meeting in Cedar Rapids.

The mayor said Thursday that he’s not aware of any active, organized efforts to bring a casino to Webster County.

There were two previous unsuccessful efforts. The most recent one, in 2010, would have created the Diamond Jo Fort Dodge south of Fort Dodge near the junction of U.S. highways 20 and 169. In 2005, the Mineral City Hotel and Casino was proposed for the Fort Dodge riverfront. In both cases, the Racing and Gaming Commission declined to issue the needed license.

“I truly believe that we still deserve the opportunity to put a casino in Webster County,” Bemrich said.

“To me, if Cedar Rapids gets a casino or if Greene County gets a casino, that shuts the door further on Fort Dodge,” he added.

Bemrich said that during his comments to the commission, he criticized the process now underway. He said that in the past, the commission conducted a study to see if there was a need for additional licenses, and then solicited proposals from communities. This time, he said, Cedar Rapids and Greene County have presented proposals even though the commission didn’t ask for any.

“This particular process is being pushed upon the Racing and Gaming Commission by the communities,” he said.

Bemrich said he may be “very, very active and vocal” when Greene County representatives make their presentation to the commission.