A spokesman for the Iowa businesses that have installed Iowa Lottery “TouchPlay” machines says a moratorium or removal of the machines from their grocery stores, bars, restaurants or convenience stores would be a huge financial setback. Mike Triplett, a spokesman for the “TouchPlay Coalition,” says the businesses have invested nearly 100-million dollars of their own money in the Lottery machines, and they don’t want to lose that.
“There’s obviously a demand for this product,” Triplett says. “There have been retailers throughout this state in areas where there are not casinos that have placed these (TouchPlay machines in their businesses) and have now seen their revenues increase.” Triplett says he’s heard about restaurants and bar owners who were thinking about closing who have seen their fortunes reversed because of the “foot traffic” created by the placement of the TouchPlay machines.”On Main Street in a small town, it’s great for everybody in that small town,” he says.
According to Triplett, Governor Tom Vilsack has asked Lottery officials not to install any more of the TouchPlay machines in Iowa until a task force the governor has appointed completes its report in 60 days.”He (Vilsack) has said ‘moratorium’ in discussions with the Lottery and that’s something that we’ve got a lot of concerns about…how that can be implemented with current contracts,” Triplett says. Triplett says the coalition’s position is that if there’s a binding contract between two companies, the state can’t come in and arbitrarily say that contract is null and void.
A spokeswoman for the Iowa Lottery says she has “no information about” Vilsack’s requested moratorium. There are presently about 45-hundred “TouchPlay” machines around the state, and Iowa’s casino industry is complaining that the machines are just like the slot machines in their facilities and should be regulated in the same way. The president of the Lottery has said comparing slot machines to “TouchPlay” machines is like comparing beer to near beer.