After more bitter gambling debate in the Iowa House on Wednesday, the chamber voted by a wide margin to eliminate the last traces of a law requiring Iowa casinos to be on water. For several years, some casinos have operated as moored barges with a waterbed-like structure underneath to meet the state’s floating casino requirement. Representative Polly Butka, a Democrat from Clinton, asked — what is the point of that?
Butka says, "These riverboats, so called, floating around on a waterbed mattress is getting to be ridiculous. It seems like a really good time to remove that rule." If the governor signs the bill, a Clinton area riverboat and others on the state’s waterways can change to land-based casinos. Gambling critics were angry.
Representative Mike May, a Republican from Spirit Lake, said he opposes anything that makes it easier for investors to open a casino. May says: "I’m not for doing that. We are expanding gambling. We’ve done it this session. We’ve been doing it consistently since 1989. We find a new way each session to expand gambling in the state and I see this as an expansion of gambling."
Stalwart gambling opponents in the House were not able to stop the change and the bill was approved by a vote of 71-to-26. It now goes to the governor. Critics say it clears the way for the state’s racetrack casinos to also get out of the business of racing and operate strictly as casinos.