A key legislator who’s also running for congress says he wants to yank the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines out of convenience stores, bars, grocery stores, and restaurants. Senator Jeff Lamberti, a Republican from Ankeny, is running in Iowa’s third district congressional district which stretches from Des Moines to Newton to Grinnell.”For my own part, and I speak only for myself, I’m coming down on the side that we ought to remove these things,” Lamberti says.
He says the legislature has every right to make a policy decision on the TouchPlay machines, regardless of the threat of a lawsuit against the state from the businesses which already have the devices. “Gambling is regulated by the state. We have in the past decided what forms of gambling we have and I think this is a continuation of our power to make that decision,” Lamberti says. “Does that mean you won’t at some point have litigation? No. But I think most of us are going to make a decision on this based on what we believe is in the best interests of our constituents and my opinion is that the people in my district do not want gambling on every corner.”
Just about this time last year, TouchPlay machines started appearing in Iowa bars and restaurants, but Lamberti says it wasn’t until this year that legislators became concerned. “In my opinion, when (TouchPlay machines) started appearing in convenience stores and grocery stores, that is when I think most us in the legislature said we have a different issue on our hands than when we were talking about bars,” Lamberti says. Lamberti is the son of Don Lamberti, founder of the Casey’s General Stores convenience store chain.
Casey’s does not have TouchPlay machines today, but has applied for a license to put the machines in some stores. Senator Lamberti says he does not work for Casey’s and his opinions on TouchPlay are not influenced by the family business.