The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission’s final hearing before deciding on new gambling licenses featured a wide array of comments. Radio Iowa’s Darwin Danielson reports the comments for the most part were civil — but there were lots of claims and counterclaims made. Some residents of Fort Dodge claim gambling supporters used the lure of a new aquatic center to get yes votes in the gambling referendum. Fort Dodge Mayor Will Patterson says they’re some people who fight anything and said, “There are people in this room today that if you paved their street in gold, they would be opposed to it. Patterson later said he did not think everyone who opposed the Fort Dodge plan did so just because they were opposed to change. The proposed casino in Washington County brought out the normally reclusive members of the Amish community. Lloyd Mast of Kalona represented 250 Amish and denied they supported a casino there. He says, “We found out , were quite shocked that there was a report brought to you-ins that the Amish in the Kalona community would welcome a casino in Riverside, which is, just, is not true. It’s just the opposite. And I felt responsible to come and very it. So it’s that it is not true that way.” Herbert Mast of Kalona also spoke. He says, “It’s been brought to our attention the report that’s been going around the Amish support the casino. We want to clarify that It’s a false statement. We do not support the casino at all. And we will not welcome it.” Cheese fed to the commissioners on a tour of the site of the proposed Washington county facility also drew some attention. Don Patterson, a spokesman for owner of the local dairy that produced the cheese, set the record straight. He says the owner wants to make it very clear he did not give the cheese and the Twin County Dairy does not support the casino. A spokesman for the Washington County project says they never intended to indicate the cheese company supported the casino when they bought the cheese for the commissioners. Dale Torpey spoke out against the Washington County casino proposed for Riverside, saying it would be too big a lure for University of Iowa students. He says, “Our students in eastern Iowa are already facing a crisis problem with binge drinking. By granting a license to Washington County, you would be creating a new crisis with students suffering the effects of binge gambling.” Dan Kehl, who is seeking the Washington County license says Torpey’s fear is unfounded. He says the law does not allow anyone under 21 into the casinos, so that rules out a large majority of students. He says students also don’t have the time or funding to be in the casino. He says it’s not been a problem in other areas where there is a casino and a college. The members of the Racing and Gaming Commission will make a decision on new licenses next Wednesday.
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