The Co-Leader of the Iowa Senate predicts lawmakers will limit the number of Iowa Lottery TouchPlay machines that can be placed around the state and establish new regulations for the machines. But Senate Co-Leader Michael Gronstal also says there are probably enough votes in the Legislature to yank the machines out of the grocery stores, bars, restaurants and conveniences stores where they’ve been placed. “It’s always hard to predict exactly what we will do,” Gronstal says.
Gronstal, who is a Democrat from Council Bluffs, says the four-thousand employees of the three state-licensed casinos in Council Bluffs will be urging him to shut down the Lottery’s TouchPlay machines, while small business owners in Council Bluffs who have TouchPlay machines will urge him to do nothing. “In the end, the Legislature is likely to put some limitation on the number of machines. I think we will probably come up with some better regulation of the machines,” Gronstal says. “There are a zillion possibilities.”
Gronstal says he’s guessing that it’s “quite possible” there are enough votes to ban the TouchPlay machines altogether. Gronstal is not among the legislators who charge that Iowa Lottery officials pulled a fast one and placed the machines around the state without their knowledge or approval. “I can’t say I was duped. (Lottery President and CEO Ed) Stanek was pretty clear and he brought legislators in (who) wanted to know about what these machines would do and he asked what the legislature would do in response to them,” Gronstal says. “I was very clear when I met with Stanek. To the extent he comes in and competes with existing gaming institutions, he would get push-back from that industry and from the employees (who) work for that industry.” Gronstal made his comments during taping of the Iowa Public Television program “Iowa Press.”