The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

May 7, 2014

Change needed on what's required of Iowa casinos

Not germane.

That’s how the Democratic leadership of the Iowa Senate recently described an amendment proposed by state Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, that would have required the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to grant a casino license to any application from a city with a population of 50,000 or more.

Horn, not surprisingly, was disappointed earlier in the month when the commission, on a 4-1 vote, turned down an application request from the $164 million Cedar Crossing Casino proposed for Cedar Rapids. Since that vote, Chairman Jeff Lamberti has been stressing how, for decades, the regulation of the state’s casino industry has followed the “overarching goal” of creating a “stable and predictable gaming environment” that is “free of significant disruption.”

If lawmakers want to change that model, Lamberti has pointed out repeatedly, then it’s up to them to do so.

For some reason, however, the Senate leadership determined that Horn’s amendment on a casino licensing bill wasn’t germane to a near-end-of-session bill that would have allowed the state’s casinos to get out of the business of greyhound racing business. The bill involved a $92 million deal that would help ensure those involved in the industry would have a soft landing.

Never mind that the very need for the greyhound racing bill is evidence of the risks involved with the state government being too heavily involved in the regulation (and micromanagement) of the gambling industry. (Say nothing of the risks involved with the state government having grown so addicted to the revenue collected from those casinos.)

Never mind how reading through Chapter 99 of the Iowa Code feels like traveling through time to witness all the legislative tweaks and changes that have needed to take place to allow the state’s growing gambling industry to keep up with the needs of its marketplace. (Don’t forget, this all started with casinos being allowed only on riverboats that actually used to travel on rivers.)

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