The five commissioners of the State Racing and Gaming Commission Wednesday heard over seven hours of comments on the 10 proposals for new gambling licenses. There were comments on both sides of the issue. Ryan Madison of Waterloo spoke out against a proposal to put a casino in downtown Waterloo. Madison says the area is already plagued with crime and the city doesn’t have enough cops. He says, “I can name off 15 to 20 events that happened just this month alone on the east side of the community. Putting a casino down there just opens the door to more criminals.” Madison says safety should be the top concern, not money, not jobs. Waterloo Mayor Tim Hurley disagreed with Madison. He says, “I reject that.” Hurley says Waterloo’s police department has an authorized level of 125. He says the city is “completely capable of taking care of ourselves.” Pastor Bob Luebbert of Northwood says he doesn’t favor a casino in Worth County. He says, “I realize that we want a boost in our economy, but I don’t believe that a casino is good for the economy. And I really think it will do more harm than good.” A water park created a slippery slope of questions surrounding the Fort Dodge casino proposal. Suzane Schwendemann says she believes adds and phones calls touting the water park fooled people into voting in favor of a referendum on gambling in Webster County. She says, ” I truly believe that by the time the voters came to the polls, many voted yes, not for a casino, but for the aquatics center they had been promised in the media. Now we can’t take the referendum back because they lied to us. But you don’t need to reward them by giving them a gaming license.” Her comments prompted commissioner Mike Mahaffey to question Fort Dodge Mayor Will Patterson about the water park. Patterson said the waterpark was never promised to get votes. Mahaffey said, “Let me ask you this Mr. Mayor, if that says voting yes on the riverboat means Fort Dodge can get a new waterpark, what does that imply to you sir?” Patterson replied,” It means that we could use the income that we could get from the gaming operation to, to help pay for a waterpark if we chose to build one. We never said we was gonna build it on the river. Never said we was actually gonna build one really.” There were also some questions about the use of the name Mineral City for the Fort Dodge casino, as three local businessmen say that’s a trademarked name of their restaurant. Backers of the Fort Dodge proposal say the use of the name is still being negoitiated.
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