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    Posted byadmin on Wednesday, February 11 @ 23:00:00 EST
    Contributed by admin

    5 New Casinos Could Come To Iowa

    Des Moines, Iowa -- Lawmakers unveiled big changes for the future of gambling in Iowa Thursday.

    In a new bill, the Legislature authorized up to five new casino licenses, bringing the total number of racetracks and casinos to 18.
    However, there will be no new licenses issued in a county of an existing license holder, which would eliminate the city of Des Moines' hopes for a casino because Prairie Meadows is located in Altoona. Also, new licenses will not be issued for a facility that plans to build within 50 miles of an existing license holder's facility.
    Riverboat casinos would no longer be required to make cruises. However, riverboats could only be built in bodies of water big enough to support recreational activities.
    It also proposes a one-time license fee of $10 million, with an annual fine of $10 million if a gaming facility is not built.
    The bill overhauls the way casinos and some racetracks are taxed to comply with an Iowa Supreme Court ruling that recently struck down a two-tiered tax system.
    Casinos would be required to remove cash machines from the gaming floor, but table games would be allowed at racetracks.
    Counties that fail to pass a gambling referendum would have to wait eight years before they would try again. The current waiting period is only two years.
    The bill is expected to be passed through the committee process next week and is scheduled for debate on Feb. 26.
    Rep. Scott Raecker, of Urbandale, chairman of the House gambling subcommittee drafting the bill, said it is a starting point and is likely to see changes as the controversial issue makes its way through the Legislature.
    Raecker's subcommittee has held about 20 public meetings on gaming issues.
    Gambling History
    In November, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission asked the Legislature to give some guidance on whether the state should lift a six-year moratorium on casino licenses. Commissioners have also said they would accept from lawmakers a recommended number of licenses.
    Five Iowa counties -- Black Hawk, Franklin, Palo Alto, Wapello and Worth -- all recently passed referendums allowing casino construction.

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