A committee in the Iowa Senate has voted to eliminate a requirement that local voters approve gambling every eight years to keep a casino open. Under the bill, once a county had approved gambling twice, the automatic referendums on gambling would end and counties would have to wait eight to 15 years for a vote. Senator Dennis Black, a Democrat from Grinnell, is pushing the bill, as he says the vote can hamper the development of a casino.
Black says Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Altoona is proposing a 60-million dollar expansion, but banks won’t lend them the money because there’s another referendum on gambling coming up in 2010. Black says if the bill becomes law there would still be a process to call for a gambling referendum. Black says the only way gambling would come for a vote is if someone wanted to reverse gambling and brought a petition before the county supervisors and pushed the issue.
Black says if the petition is successful, and the vote goes against gambling, the casino would have to shut down. He says the bill would give the casino one more year of operation, and then it would have to shut down.
Senator Jim Hahn, a Republican from Muscatine, was the only vote against the bill.Hahn says votes should be able to petition to have a vote anytime. Hahn says he’s behind those who don’t want gambling expanded in the state.
The bill now goes to the full Senate.