The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission today (Thursday) turned back another attempt by the National Cattle Congress in Waterloo to get back into the gambling business. But the issue is still not settled. The Cattle Congress failed in May to win a new gambling license for a riverboat casino. The group’s attorney, Ken Nelson, today said they now believe the track’s original license that was suspended in 1996 when the track went bankrupt should still be valid.He says it’s their position that the group still holds a valid license and should be able restart parimutuel dog racing by asking the commission to renew their license. Nelson says they also believe the law allows them to install slot machines at Waterloo to generate revenue to operate the track and asked the commission for a ruling. The commission went into executive session, and afterward commissioner Mike Mahaffey of Montezuma spoke for the group. He says licenses are only issue for a period of three years, so he says the license that was suspended in 1996 became invalid at the latest in 1999. Mahaffey then summed up the issue. He says, “We do not believe that the National Cattle Congress is a licensee, so my opinion is that we should answer the questions have been posed to us in the nay.” The four other commission members agreed. The Deputy Attorney General that works as the commission’s lawyer will issue an official opinion backing up the commission’s ruling by no later than October 21st. Nelson says they will go ahead with submitting an application for a license and may have to take legal action if the board turns them down. He says if the commission refuses to review their application then “a court fight would be eminent at that point”. He says though he needs to review the legal ruling to determine what happens next. Nelson says the Cattle Congress is seeking a way to keep itself alive and needs an influx of millions of dollars to do so. Nelson called the situation “desperate” in talking to the commission, and says they may be overstating the issue, but he says getting the license is crucial. He says, “The gaming commission thinks that this is an act of desperation. If they want to deem it that, then so be it, they can call it whatever they want.” Nelson says the income and revenue to continue to the Cattle Congress are not there and they need to take whatever steps are necessary. Nelson says the fight to restore the license that was suspended would likely be too costly, but they hope to be able to convince the commission to accept an application for a new license. The commission members indicated in their last meeting in July that they aren’t interested in awarding any licenses beyond the four approved in May.
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