Now that the governor has said he will sign the ban on the video lottery games known as Touch Play, the only question is how soon that ban will take effect. Bills approved by the state House and Senate give businesses just 45 days to get rid of the machines. But the house has approved a second bill that delays the ban until September to give vendors and distributors more time to recoup their investment.
The governor says he can live with that delay if the senate can. Senate Democratic leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs says he’s working on it. Gronstal says they won’t rush and will ask some of the companies for “real numbers,” looking over the contracts and obligations to try and deal with losses some of the businesspeople face. “The date might not be the same,” Gronstal says and there may be an issue of whether the state will continue to get revenue from the machines, but he says lawmakers will deal with the businesspeople in good faith.
He says it wouldn’t be productive to spend a lot of time money in court battles over Touch Play, and they’re hoping for a legislative solution. But he also says there won’t be a “gift” to the vendors or retailers who’ll lose money from Touch Play revenues. Gronstal says they’ll have to demonstrate they’ve suffered significant losses.
But republican Senator Larry McKibben of Marshalltown says he’s less inclined to postpone the ban. McKibben thinks most investors will have already recouped their money and that leaving the machines in place penalizes poor people. He says it takes food, clothing and shelter away from poor children and leaving the machines in place until September would just let that continue.
McKibben says if foes of the change intend to file lawsuits, they’ll do it no matter what action lawmakers take. Timing is irrelevant, as he says they’ll sue no matter what date is set to remove the machines. McKibben says other senators worry Touch Play could divert money from tourist attractions over the summer. But he says Senate Republicans will listen to their constituents before deciding whether or not to delay the ban.