Both sides are lining up for a fight as Black Hawk County moves toward a third referendum October seventh that would allow a gambling boat in the county. The issue failed to gain approval in two votes in 1994. Don Hoth of the Black Hawk County Gaming Association hopes the measure passes this time around. He says he thinks property taxes are too high in the county and he sees gambling as property tax relief. Hoth says he’s seen what’s happened in other areas of the state where casinos are providing matching funds for Vision Iowa projects. Hoth says Dubuque is a good example of what he’s talking about.He says they’ve been able to match Vision Iowa grants with gambling funds. Hoth says they’re “going great guns over there” and are getting a lot of visitors to the city. Waterloo attorney Jay Nardini led the opposition to gambling nine years ago, and is now the spokesman for the group “Citizens Voting No on October Seventh”. The group held a rally in Waterloo last night where they distributed yard signs and information. Nardini asked for financial support to defeat the referendum.Nardini says taxes have never gone done in a town that has gambling. He says “gambling tax is the crack cocaine to government. They will take that money, they will spend it five times over and then when that isn’t enough for them, they’ll bring in more gambling, or want a higher gambling tax.” Nardini says it never ends, but he they can make it end by voting no. Robert Miller was another speaker at the “No Boat” rally. Miller was the president of the group that held the gambling license for the casino boat in Betendorf. He now is the chair of the Truth About Gambling Foundation in Muscatine.He says gambling has a zero-sum economic effect in its market. He says studies in Illinois show casino riverboats do not contribute to the economic development in Illinois. The Waterloo City Council has approved a 70-million dollar deal for a riverboat complex. That deal is based on approval of the referendum and the city winning a gambling license.
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