A new study done for the Iowa Association of Business and Industry finds that building six new casinos in Iowa would bring in 179-Million dollars,…but 39-million of that would be drawn away from existing casinos. Former state economist Harvey Siegelman, a co-author of the study, says he based the survey on half a dozen casinos because five communities have approved gambling referendums and another is scheduled to vote next month. If all six of those proposed casinos were built, he says state government would get about 42-Million in additional revenues, local governments would get 2-point-seven million more, and they’d add 3400 new jobs. Siegelman says not all gambling operations are created equal. A very small casino, with 11-million dollars a year in revenue and perhaps 180 to 200 workers is “kind of hard to justify,” even in a sparsely populated part of the state, and he says at least one of the proposed casinos would be that small. Siegelman says it looks like casinos built in Waterloo, Northwood and Fort Dodge would be more profitable than ones built in Emmetsburg, Hampton and Ottumwa, but he says all would siphon gamblers away from the centrally-located Prairie Meadows casino in Altoona. Scott Raecker, chair of the house subcommittee on gambling, says despite the qualitative finds, the legislature would never decide where gambling should be expanded. Raecker says he can’t see the lawmakers identifying license sites, though they may decide how many licenses will be given. Raecker says it would be up to the Racing and gaming Commission to assess the viability of locations and the financial stability of companies that propose to build casinos.
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