The legislature’s top republican says a gambling deal’s more likely to make it through the Iowa House if it restricts the number of new casino licenses to one or two. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, made his comments this morning during the taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press.” The Iowa Senate’s set to debate the gambling issue next week. The House last month passed a bill that would allow table games at the race tracks, but that bill would establish a moratorium on new riverboat operating licenses. Rants says he hopes the Senate acts in “relatively short order” because the state budget can’t be made final until the gambling bill’s done, since that bill sets new tax rates for the race tracks and boats. Rants, however, isn’t predicting how the House will react if the Senate votes to allow new licenses.Rants says “nobody knows the answer to that” and it’s “too early to say” because no one’s done a vote count in the House on that issue. Six Iowa counties have passed referendums in hopes of landing a new floating casino. Rants says proponents of new gambling licenses would be better off specifying one or two new licenses rather than “something that would blow the barn doors off” in terms of opening the door to an unlimited number of new casinos.
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