A massive gambling bill cleared two House committees yesterday, with a personnel change in the midst of deliberations. The Speaker of the House put Representative Scott Raecker on the House Ways and Means Committee for a day, in Representative Danny Carroll’s place.
Carroll says it’s just a procedural, practical matter since Raecker has been managing the bill as it was drafted over the past few weeks in a subcommittee. Carroll says as a member of the House leadership — he’s Speaker Pro Tempore — he decided to step aside and let Raecker take his place on the committee for the day. Carroll says there’s nothing more to it than that, but it “makes for interesting conversation.” The statehouse speculation was that Carroll would have voted against the bill, dooming its chances in committee.
Carroll says it may be “hard to believe that there isn’t some backroom deal in a smoke-filled room” but he says that is just not the case. The bill which cleared two House committees yesterday would allow up to five new riverboat casino operations into Iowa and no longer require riverboats to cruise. It also would allow table games like Black Jack at the race track casinos. The race tracks today may only offer slot machines.
The bill sets out a new taxing structure for the gaming industry. Tracks that add table games would have a higher 26 percent state tax, and they’d also have to pay a one-time 10-million dollar fee. The riverboat operators have complained that no one gets on board to cruise, they get on to gamble. So, legislators would allow the boats to stay put, but if another boat in their county continues to cruise — the stationary boat would pay a higher, 26 percent state tax.