House Speaker Christopher Rants says he’d like to turn regulation of the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines to the state Racing and Gaming Commission. “Do you allow this to remain under the Lottery which is in large part a promotional arm or do you really turn it over to someone else to regulate…someone who has more experience regulating all forms of gaming?” Rants asks. “Personally, that’s where I would come down.”
The two candidates who are competing for the Republican party’s gubernatorial nomination said Wednesday that the machines should be yanked, but Rants, who is a Republican, too, says businesses have invested millions in the machines and the state might be sued to get that money back if the TouchPlay machines were barred. Rants says Jim Nussle and Bob Vander Plaats had good intentions and “their hearts are in the right place.”
But Rants says “it’s a little more complicated” than that. “I wish we didn’t have a single one (of these machines) installed in the state right now (but) it gets a little bit more complicated to just yank the existing machines out because of the businesses that have invested the money in it,” Rants says.
House Republican Leader Chuck Gipp of Decorah says if state officials were to jerk the machines out of the stores, bars and restaurants where they are today, the state could be sued. “That’s why you have to be very careful when you wade into this,” Gipp says. “As I’ve told my people before when they take on issues like that, ‘you’d better walk into it with your eyes wide open.'” Gipp says a House committee will begin holding hearings on the issue soon.