Iowa’s governor blames the media for the uproar over the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines. Governor Tom Vilsack reprimanded statehouse reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
“The citizens are talking about it because you (reporters) are focused on it, so I’m asking my legislative friends: ‘get the spotlight off this issue,'” Vilsack says. “Whatever you’re going to do, decide it. Get it over with because it’s not as important in my view as education and health care and job growth.”
On Monday, the Iowa Senate will debate the future of TouchPlay. House debate on the TouchPlay topic is scheduled Tuesday. Vilsack hopes lawmakers make a final decision then. “My feeling is I hope the legislature takes action on this because there are a whole lot more important things to be talking about in this state,” Vilsack says.
Vilsack says he’ll “respect” whatever the legislature decides to do with TouchPlay, whether that’s banning the machines or imposing new restrictions on the machines. But the governor will not agree to putting the Lottery under the jurisdiction of the state Racing and Gaming Commission which regulates the state-licensed casinos. “If there needs to be a debate about that it ought to be a separate debate,” Vilsack says.
The governor says he has “strong feelings” that the Lottery and the casinos are direct competitors and cannot be regulated by the same board. That means he’d likely veto a bill that included a final decision on TouchPlay along with a move to place the Lottery under Racing and Gaming Commission control.