INDIANOLA, Iowa — Those behind the fight against a proposed $145 million casino and events center in Norwalk said the overwhelming defeat of the project shows some officials misread public sentiment.
Casino opponent Tom Greteman told The Des Moines Register (http://dmreg.co/10ioxwQ ) that Tuesday's 60 percent vote against the proposed Warren County casino in northwest Norwalk, near Iowa Highways 5 and 28, clearly showed that residents didn't' want it.
"I think the size of the vote in Norwalk just shows how out of touch some of our city leaders are with what the people really want in Norwalk," Greteman said. "I thought it would be much closer than this. I knew that Norwalk would probably not vote for it, but I really didn't know how the rest of the county would vote."
Supporters of the casino emphasized the estimated $4.5 million in revenue the casino would have generated for school and nonprofit groups. Opponents argued that the casino would have led to more gambling addiction, divorce and bankruptcies.
The Warren County Economic Development Corp. had supported the casino, but executive director Jason White said the group was ready to move on.
"Obviously we're disappointed about the results and the outcome, but we're proud of the campaign we ran," White said. "We know now, based on the campaign, this is not a project Warren County voters want. Going forward, we want to engage that energy to help us determine what projects we would like to bring."
About one-third of voters cast ballots, making turnout higher than usual for a special election, according to the Warren County auditor's office.
With Tuesday's vote, state law now prohibits Warren County voters from considering another gambling bill before 2021.
Iowa has 18 state-licensed casinos, including two within 30 miles of Norwalk.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com