Governor Vilsack is renewing his call for the legislature to vote on expanded gambling in Iowa. Vilsack its’ a legislative policy decision that should not be made by five unelected regulators on the State Racing and Gaming Commission, who he says have no direct accountability to the public. Governor Vilsack says he’ll be happy to go along with whatever lawmakers decide, whether it’s expanding gambling in the state or keeping the number of existing licenses. The governor says he just wants recognition that it’s the responsibility of lawmakers to make the decision. He says the licenses are a monopoly for the entity that wins the license and he says that ought to be something of value to a license holder.Communities where voters have approved gambling are pressuring the state racing and gaming commission to end the moratorium on new licenses. State Representative Chuck Gipp of Decorah is House Majority Leader. He says as there have been more referendums and voters have passed them even in areas where the lawmakers opposed expanded gambling, they may change their stance after seeing what constituents did. Gipp says republican lawmakers previously reluctant to bring up gambling bills for debate are now under more pressure to act. Gipp says the legislature should offer direction, though he doesn’t know what that may be since there are 41 new members just elected to the house this year, and he says until they’ve been through their first debate on gambling they won’t appreciate what can happen. Gipp says he’d like to see the gambling debate dealt with and out of the way early in the session, because it’s very divisive. But he says lawmakers have to wait for a ruling from the state supreme court on whether the state can tax racetrack casinos at a different, higher rate than riverboat casinos.
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