The Iowa House has voted to expand the buffet of gambling games at the state’s race tracks, but stopped short of allowing more riverboat casinos in Iowa. The bill that cleared the House last night would allow table games like Black Jack and roulette at the tracks, but it dashed the hopes of folks in five Iowa counties who want a new gambling boat in their area. Representative Mary Mascher, a democrat from Iowa City, says Iowans have a lot of “misgivings” about gambling expansion. Mascher says the people back home are telling legislators to look at other ways to stabilize Iowa’s economy. Representative Ed Fallon, a democrat from Des Moines, opposed the expansion of gambling at the tracks. Fallon says some have described gambling as a critical component of Iowa’s economy, but he says gambling doesn’t generate new wealth. Representative Danny Carroll, a republican from Grinnell, reluctantly supported the deal, which included the moratorium on new licenses that he sought. Carroll says he didn’t get a “full loaf,” but “compromise is tough.” Carroll called the House debate “gut-wrenching” for people like him who do not want to see gambling expanded because they had to compromise and accept some expansion. But Representative Don Shoultz, a democrat from Waterloo, says his town looks at how Dubuque has benefitted from gambling, and wants a piece of that action with its own riverboat. Representative Mary Gaskill, a democrat from Ottumwa, says her town would like to have a gambling boat as a tourist destination. Gaskill says the jobs on the boat would pay $10 or $11 an hour, and she says they’re not hard labor like the jobs at the Ottumwa meatpacking plant which pay the same wage. The bill that does not allow any more gambling licenses in Iowa passed the House on a 73 to 26 vote. It now goes to the Senate.
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