Governor Tom Vilsack says legislators now have “many options” on the table to respond to the controversy generated by the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines. The governor’s six-member task force studying the issues revolving around TouchPlay released its final report, confirming its call for restricting the machines to places that sell age-restricted products like beer and cigarettes.
But the group, which included folks on both sides of the issue, could not agree on other proposals, such as requiring a card-swipe device on every machine to ensure minors or addicted gamblers cannot engage the TouchPlay machines.
In a prepared statement, Vilsack said the “state legislature now has a responsibility to thoroughly debate this issue and enact legislation based on sound policy, not politics.”
Representative Jeff Elgin, a Republican from Cedar Rapids, says the House debate will be held next Tuesday. “And obviously we will have a long, involved debate on the issue,” Elgin says. Republicans in the House will meet privately tomorrow (Friday) to discuss the governor’s task force report in detail. “What our members are going to do is evaluate those and say ‘Does it go far enough?'” Elgin says.
Representative Brian Quirk, a Democrat from New Hampton, says he and Elgin are trying to come up with a compromise, but it’s not easy. “That’s the strange thing about this legislation is that people are all over the place on this,” Quirk says.
As the governor indicated, Quirk says he and Elgin are exploring many options. “Take some of the ideas that we’ve gotten from talking to other legislators, talking to different convenience store owners, bar owners and then people from the gambling industry…and try to mold that into one piece of legislation that I think could garner enough support for passage,” Quirk says. Quirk says the governor’s TouchPlay task force didn’t go as far as some lawmakers want.
Some lawmakers favor the out-right ban on the machines, while Quirk says others want to ban them within a few miles of the state licensed casinos. Neither Quirk nor Elgin say they have any idea just how the debate next Tuesday will turn out. Meanwhile, the governor has extended the moratorium on new TouchPlay machines.