tamatoledonews.com Des Moines, IA – Governor Chet Culver today called on the Iowa Racing and Iowa Commission to approve the four licenses in Wapello, Tama, Webster and Lyon Counties, before the commission today.
In a letter to the Commission, the Governor cites the opportunity for jobs and economic growth in communities with casinos as a key factor in approval of the licenses.
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver
The letter follows:
Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission
I am writing to express my support for the four pending applications for new casinos in four Iowa Counties—Lyon, Webster, Tama and Wapello.
In each instance, as is required by law, local citizens have spoken loudly and clearly by going to the ballot box and voting in favor of additional gaming.
During the past few years I have talked with representatives of each of those communities about their desire to secure a gaming license and their frustrations caused by the lengthy decision-making processes of the Racing and Gaming Commission. The one thing that has been consistent in all of my discussions is an over-riding interest in creating new jobs in tough times.
I am convinced it is now time to end frustrations caused by delays and to break ground on four new Iowa casinos near the Iowa/South Dakota border in Larchwood, in Fort Dodge, in Tama and in Ottumwa.
The areas of our state that are proposing new casinos are suffering from high unemployment rates, as follows:
Lyon County: 4.2%
Webster County: 7.9%
Tama County: 8.4%
Wapello County: 8.5%.
In the seventeen other Iowa communities where casinos have already been established, they have proven to be immediate job-creating ventures and, in most instances, have become strong generators of jobs in other businesses and enterprises.
Opportunities to create new jobs are difficult to come by and shouldn’t be dismissed easily. I want to bring these kinds of jobs to Lyon, Webster, Tama and Wapello Counties. The economic impact of these jobs will be enormous, bringing in, by some estimates, more than a quarter of a billion dollars in economic activity and far more in additional, indirect spending in these communities.
These new gaming establishments, if their license applications are approved by the Racing and Gaming Commission, like each of the others that already have been developed in Iowa, will generate hundreds of construction jobs, initially, to be followed by hundreds of permanent jobs.
Of concern to me is that in the same time period that citizens in these four communities have created the types of public support and have sought the requisite financial backing that, in the past, have been sufficient to obtain gaming licenses, there is a perception that the rules of the game at the Racing and Gaming Commission are changing so as to appear to be more protective of existing operations than permissive of allowing new ventures to move forward.
Competition is a good thing. Local community decisions and the dynamics of the financial marketplace should not be unduly outweighed by arguments that favor the status quo. If, in the past, the interests of existing casino establishments had been allowed unduly to prevail over the interests of other communities, as expressed in successful referendum elections, whose citizens wished to create local opportunities for new casinos, Iowa would never have allowed the construction of more than a handful of casinos.
While I am respectful of the fact that the Racing and Gaming Commission is an independent body, and that its members will make the final decision, I urge its members to approach this matter with an attitude of fairness and a consciousness of the economic circumstances that are challenging each of these communities whose citizens clearly support these gaming license applications.
Chester J. Culver
Governor of Iowa