The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission voted today to conduct a study to determine if it’s time to lift the moratorium on casino gambling licenses in the state. Commission chair Michael Mahaffey says the study will be one factor in making a decision on lifting the moratorium.He says they’re not doing the study to have something to tell them what to do, he says it will help them to deliberate what impact expanding gambling will have on the state. Mahaffey says the study will look at several issues.He says it will explore the impact on the expansion of gambling on the state. Mahaffey says he’s viewing the issue with skepticism. He says that’s what he’s said before, and he says there has to be a compelling reason to lift the moratorium, and that’s the mindset he’s starting with. Mahaffey says this is an important social issue facing the state. He says it’s been shown by the re-approval of gambling in all the current counties that have gambling that Iowans accept it there, but he says expanding gambling is a different issue. Mahaffey says they should get the study back by this fall.He says the study would probably be back by October. Several people spoke out for and against lifting the moratorium at the commission meeting today. Chuck Hurley of the Iowa Family Policy Center says his organization conducted a survey on the issue.He says it confirms their view and the view of the governor that we have enough gambling in Iowa. Consumer credit counselor Tom Coates also spoke against lifting the moratorium. He says a recent study shows gambling does not have the positive impact that supporters tout. He says it shows those communities that do not have casinos grew at a much faster rate than those that do. Coates and Hurley both say that gambling leads to more crime and financial problems for Iowans. Dennis May of the Worth County Development Authority says a successful referendum approving gambling there is proof there’s a need for another casino. He says he believes that when the members of the commission look at the same facts, figures and information that Worth County votes did, they’ll conclude it makes sense. He left the commission with this plea, “North Iowa needs the opportunity, North Iowa wants the opportunity, North Iowais asking for the opportunity to provide this state with an excellent location for the next riverboat casino.” Tom Alger of Palo Alto County says his county also approved a gambling referendum and wants to be able to put a boat on Five Island Lake near Emmetsburg. He says they envision an end to the outflow of Iowa dollars to the Indian casinos to the north into Minnesota and an inflow of Minnesota dollars into Iowa.
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