A bill that would expand Iowa’s gambling industry cleared a Senate committee this morning. Senator Mark Zieman, a republican from Postville, says it would allow three more gambling operations to start-up in Iowa and reduce state taxes on the racetracks to make ’em identical to what’s charged the riverboats. In addition, the bill would allow the racetrack casinos to offer table games whereas today only slots are permitted.The Iowa Supreme Court has ruled the state’s tax structure for the gambling industry is unconstitutional because the tax on the tracks is much higher than the tax on the boats. That decision’s in limbo, though, because the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the state’s appeal. Zieman says the legislature needs to consider putting a deal together that’d negate the court case, and bring the state some extra revenue from a growing industry.Zieman says this is a “work in progress.” He says Iowa legislators need to consider that the riverboat casinos are “very fluid” and could move to Illinois and even Nebraska if that state legalizes gambling. Senators and the gambling industry are hoping by advancing the bill, they can put pressure on House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, who has said the House will not debate gambling this year. Rants says the state should wait for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the matter, a ruling Rants expects to fall in the state’s favor.
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