The Iowa Senate just moments ago began debating the future of the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines. Senator Larry McKibben, a Republican from Marshalltown, was first to speak. McKibben says it will be one of the most important debates legislators will have this year. McKibben supports an outright ban on the machines.
“Seems to me that what I’ve heard in the last three weeks is really a tidal wave of public opinion against slot machines in every nook and cranny of our state,” McKibben says.
Senator Wally Horn, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, was second to speak, and he favors keeping the TouchPlay machines around. “The last statistic I saw was that 60 percent of the Iowans want TouchPlay,” Horn says. “If that’s true, why are we doing away with it?”
Horn argued the TouchPlay machines are an electronic dispenser of Lottery tickets. “Hey, we’re in a different world now and that’s electronic,” Horn says. “I don’t want to scratch that crap off (the Lottery’s scratch tickets). I want to play it electronically. I don’t want to pull the tabs back and look at it. I want to look it electronically.”
Horn also argued opponents of the TouchPlay machines were exaggerating. Horn recently met with a group of Methodists who asked him to ban TouchPlay, and Horn told his fellow Senators what he told the church group. “When I was a kid, you wouldn’t let me dance. When I was a kid, you wouldn’t let my dad and mom play bingo, but we’ve changed. We let adults play bingo. We let adults go to the gambling places and this, of course, is another step. You don’t like it. I understand it, but I don’t think that it should be that Iowa’s going to fall off of the face of the world because we did it,” Horn says. “I heard that with riverboat. I heard that with casinos. I heard it with bingo. I heard it time after time ‘We’re all going to go to hell,’ basically, but we don’t. We come out of it all right.”
The Senate began their TouchPlay debate at about 4:20 Monday afternoon, then quickly broke for private meetings among Republicans and among Democrats to chart strategy for this evening’s debate.