The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission today (Thursday) renewed the gambling licenses for the state’s ten riverboat casinos. The annual license renewal included a review of the casinos’ overall operations. That review shows the boats paid 277-million dollars in taxes, 78-million in charitable contributions, and purchased 175-million dollars in Iowa products and services. The President of the Iowa Gaming Association, Wes Ehrecke, says any new license applicants should pay attention to those numbers. He says those locations seeking a new license will pay attention to what’s needed if they’re to get a license. Eurecke says the charitable programs and buying from Iowa businesses is an important part of running an Iowa casino. He says it’s an integral part in what’s made gaming successful. Ehrecke says the amount of money casinos generate for the purchase of goods has an impact. He says it was “very impressive that 81-percent of the products and purchases were purchased in the state.” He says there was an 20-million dollar increase in the buy Iowa, taxes paid and charitable contributions, which he says shows gambling is an important part of Iowa’s economy. The annual review also included a look at the state’s effort to combat problem gambling. In 2003 less than two percent of Iowans surveyed reported financial or family problems because of gambling. But the executive director of Iowa’s Gambling Treatment Program, Frank Biagioli, says the commission still expects the casinos to provide help for gambling addicts.He says the commission has addressing problem gambling as one of their criteria for getting a gambling license. Biagioli says that commission mandate also applies to those seeking a new gambling license. He says it sends a message to licensees and potential licensees that this is something they want done. The Racing and Gaming Commission will begin hearing proposals for new licenses on March 22nd.
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