Governor Tom Vilsack this (Wednesday) morning ended all speculation: he will approve the ban on the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines into law as quickly as possible.
“There may very well be corrective action taken by the legislature to give (businesses) more time to make adjustments but in essence, to use a gambling phrase, it’s house rules and the state basically provides a license and what the state giveth the state can taketh away,” Vilsack says. “Everybody getting into this business had to be aware of that.”
Lottery officials say about 10,500 machines were ordered when the governor issued a moratorium on new machines and by the first of March just over 6000 TouchPlay devices were in operation.
“The number of machines, I think, was a little startling to a lot of folks,” Vilsack says. “That’s probably what legislators were probably reacting to.”
A bill which would pull the plug on TouchPlay within 45 days has cleared both the Senate and the House. Late last night, the House approved a separate bill that would allow the machines to operate ’til September 1st to give the businesses involved a few more months to reap revenue from TouchPlay. Vilsack says he has no preference for when the ban should take effect, he just wants legislators to move on and quit talking about TouchPlay.
“I think we spent too much time on this issue,” Vilsack says. “It’s time to move off of it and get on to the issues that really matter to folks.”
Vilsack says he’s confident the state will prevail if TouchPlay owners and retailers take the state to court and try to get the state to cover their losses. Vilsack says he has some sympathy for the businesses that will lose money, but the governor says there’s always a risk in any enterprise that is authorized by state government. “It’s fairly clear that legislators were reacting to the multitude of these machines,” Vilsack says. “Perhaps people simply got carried away.” Nearly 3000 businesses offer TouchPlay machines to their patrons today. Vilsack is currently on a trade mission in India and the governor made his comments during a 10 a.m. telephone conference call with Iowa reporters.