The Iowa Senate yesterday (Monday) gave final approval to a gambling bill that has been a central issue of the legislative session. It allows the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to expand casino gambling in the state, setting no limits on the number of licenses that could be approved. Democratic senator Bill Dotzler of Waterloo says he’s relieved the bill finally made it through the legislature but reminds people the commission still has the final say on new casinos.While he’s relieved and excited to see this clear the approval process, Dotzler says there’s still a lot of work ahead for people working to get a casino built in their districts. Senator Dotzler says all the communities that worked so hard to make sure the gambling bill made it through the legislature will now have to work their magic on commission members. From what he’s hearing, he thinks the Commission will approve some new sites, but he sees it being a long process and thinks the board will make applicants “jump through some hoops” with stricter requirements than ever before. He says to get expanded gaming, he thinks communities will have to offer a “total package,” with a facility that’s a destination site for tourism with plenty of amenities, not just “a boat floating on a pond somewhere.” Senator Dotzler points to Dubuque which has used casino profits to invest in other community attractions like its river museum. The bill now goes to governor Tom Vilsack, who is expected to sign the proposal.
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