The state-licensed gambling casinos contributed over three-quarters of a billion dollars to the state’s economy in 2005 according to a report compiled by Iowa gambling regulators. Wes Ehrecke is president of the Iowa Gaming Association, the trade group for Iowa’s ten riverboats and three racetrack casinos.
“The existing casinos in 2005/2006, in just the remodeling and expansion, is totaling about 300- million dollars. Construction jobs and a lot of money being put back into capital investment to have premiere entertainment facilities,” Ehrecke says. “Plus then the four new casinos, I believe the total for that is about $300 million so you add all that up and that’s significant economic impact to the state.”
The already-existing casinos paid over 250-million dollars in taxes last year. Add in the 235 million dollars the casinos shelled out to pay their workers and provide other benefits, plus the goods and services the casinos bought, and Ehrecke says the casinos had an economic impact of seven-hundred-80 million dollars ($780 million) to the state. “Certainly as we look at four new casinos coming on, you know each year I think we’ll continue to grow,” Ehrecke says.
Ehrecke says the casinos bought 182-million dollars worth of Iowa goods and services last year. “Almost 84 percent of all the products and services that can be purchased are from Iowa-based companies,” Ehrecke says. The report also shows Iowa casinos contributed more than 70-million dollars to local charities. Those charitable contributions are required by law. The figures were released Thursday at the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission’s meeting in Johnston.