Government

Cedar Rapids casino case goes to Iowa Supreme Court

Arguments to be heard Feb. 15 in retired attorney's lawsuit

Rendering of what could have been the new Cedar Rapids casino, Cedar Crossing
Rendering of what could have been the new Cedar Rapids casino, Cedar Crossing
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Iowa Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments next month in a 2015 case about whether the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission erred in denying a gambling license in 2014 for Cedar Crossing, a casino proposed for the west side across the Cedar River from downtown Cedar Rapids.

Gene Kopecky, a retired local attorney and former Linn County prosecutor, said the commission exceeded its authority when it considered the interests of existing gambling license holders when deciding whether or not to issue a new license in Linn County. This disenfranchised Linn County voters, who approved a gambling casino for the county in March 2013.

“Is the commission’s primary responsibility to the existing license holders or the voters?” Kopecky asked on Friday in summarizing the issue.

Kopecky, retired from active practice at Ackley, Kopecky & Kingery LLP in Cedar Rapids, initially filed his lawsuit against the commission in July 2014. However, a judge dismissed it in December 2014 on procedural grounds, telling Kopecky he first must seek redress by appealing to the commission.

Kopecky did appeal, but the commission turned down the appeal in June 2015. He then refiled the lawsuit.

Kopecky contends external casinos such as Riverside Casino and Isle of Capri should not have factored into the licensing decision in Cedar Rapids. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission and Linn County District Court disagreed.

Oral arguments will be presented in front of the Iowa Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Feb. 15. Each side will have 15 minutes and Kopecky an additional five minutes for reply. Kopecky said he anticipates a decision within 100 days of the hearing, and added it’s a good sign that the Iowa Supreme Court is interested in the issue given the panel accepts very few appeals.

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Kopecky was not an investor in the 2014 casino proposal, nor is he an investor in a 2016 Wild Rose boutique casino proposal in downtown Cedar Rapids.

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

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