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Meskwakis voice opposition to new casino at Cedar Rapids

January 25, 2013
By John Speer - Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa -Meskwaki Tribe- have been reported far and wide in Cedar Rapids and Linn County area media as being in opposition to a proposed casino in Cedar Rapids. The reports have flowed over the past week.

Both Tribal Chair Frank Blackcloud and Tribal lobbyist Tom Jochum cited "cannibalism" of the Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel's business here and resulting effect on local jobs and economy and Tribal enterprises in the reports.

Jochum had not responded to a News-Herald request for comment by the Wednesday deadline.

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However, the Tribe's opposition to a casino proposed for Tama in 2010 is documented in Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission minutes and cites the same economic factors.

A campaign "Vote Yes Linn County" has been launched to gain approval in a special election referendum vote on March 5 which could pave the way for a casino to likely be located in downtown Cedar Rapids.

In 2003, Linn County voters rejected approval for a casino on a 47%-YES 53%-NO vote.

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If a majority vote in favor, it's up to the Racing and Commission to decide whether license is issued.

During the 2010 round on five license requests including the Tama one, four were rejected by the commission.

During the May, 2010, commission meeting in Johnston, then-Commissioner Toni Urban said, in part, according to the minutes, "the Native Americans have had the ability to enrich the lives of their tribal members through casino revenue; and it is believed that other Iowa casinos have already cannibalized some of the revenue. In their letters, the Meskwaki stated they employ 984 individuals and that 85 percent of the jobs are not held by Meskwaki tribal members. The Meskwaki Casino is the largest employer in Tama. Commissioner Urban stated that she would vote to deny a license for Tama County."

The Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel complex is Iowa's largest venue and includes more than 400 hotel rooms and five dining venues.



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