It’s on to a new battleground for gambling proponents. Backers of proposed casino boats in the five Iowa counties that’ve passed gambling referendums are now focusing their lobbying effort on the Iowa Senate. The Iowa House last night approved a gambling bill that allows table games at the race tracks, but it also established a ban on new riverboat operations. Steve Heldt, a community developer in Emmetsburg, says his county — Palo Alto — voted overwhelmingly in favor of getting a floating casino. Heldt says he and others are “pretty disappointed” by the House-passed ban because the envisioned gambling operation would have brought 350 new jobs to Palo Alto County. Heldt says other areas of the state have had the opportunity to benefit from gambling for 12 years, and what’s good for those areas would be good for his — particularly those 350 new jobs. Heldt says Palo Alto County’s population is about 10,000 and that would have a huge impact. The proposed gambling site would be about 35 miles from Lake Okoboji, and he says a gambling boat would attract people to his county rather than having people just pass through on their way to the Iowa Great Lakes. With House passage of the gambling legislation last night, the Iowa Senate will now take up the controversial bill.
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