The Co-President of the Iowa Senate says legislators will not wait until Governor Vilsack’s task force issues its recommendations on the future of Iowa Lottery “TouchPlay” machines. Senate Co-President Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, says lawmakers won’t wait 60 days and have spent this first week of the 2006 legislative session “absorbing” the extent of the problem. “Most of our members did not anticipate what’s happening, don’t believe they authorized specifically these type of machines and they’re very concerned about it,” Lamberti says.
TouchPlay machines can now be found in grocery stores, restaurants, bars and convenience stores across the state and Lamberti says they look, sound and act like slot machines, even if Lottery officials argue they do not fit the legal definition because of the way winners are determined. The two Republicans and one of the Democrats running for governor said yesterday that the machines should be yanked. Lamberti says all options are on the table.
“I believe something needs to be done,” Lamberti says. “I don’t believe the people of Iowa want gambling on every street corner, essentially, in the state of Iowa so we will need to act.” Lamberti says removal of the machines as well as greater oversight are two of the options that legislators are considering. “We are moving this to the top of our list in terms of items to discuss starting next week,” Lamberti says. Lamberti’s father founded the Casey’s General Stores convenience store chain and while the senator does not work for the company, he says Casey’s has not put the machines in its stores.