Two University of Northern Iowa researchers say gambling has been a mixed bag for Iowa. They say casinos have been an economic boost for communities but individuals suffer the social ills, like having to declare bankruptcy because of an addiction to gambling. The research was presented to the state Racing and Gaming Commission Tuesday night on the eve of the commission decision on how many new gambling licenses to award. Commission chairwoman Diane Hamilton of Storm Lake says the research findings won’t have much impact on her decision. Hamilton says nothing really “jumped out” from the report that calls for review before the commission grants new licenses. Hamilton says the rising number of bankruptcies in Iowa can’t all be blamed on gambling. “There are lots of reasons for bankruptcy: catastrophic medical problems, a business problem, credit card debt,” Hamilton says. Commission member Mike Mahaffey opposes any gambling expansion and he says the research may be helpful. “I’ve never tried to say that gambling is a problem for most Iowans, but I think when we talk about the positive impacts…I think you have to take into consideration some of the other factors that become involved,” Mahaffey says. The commission will conduct a public hearing today, starting at eight o’clock this morning, on the prospect of new licenses. Then, the commission will decide how many licenses it intends to award. The decision on which applications win those licenses will come on May 11th.
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