Governor Tom Vilsack signed the ban on the Iowa Lottery’s TouchPlay machines into law today. That means businesses will have 45 days to pull the plug on the machines. But House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, says legislative leaders arel meeting with the state’s attorney general to see if there’s some way to help the businesses that will lose big they haven’t yet earned enough to pay for the machines.
“Legislators have some concern and some sympathy for those folks (who) invested when they were enticed to do so by the Lottery,” Rants says. “We don’t want to see people lose money on that deal.” Rants predicts lawmakers will not act to ensure “future profits” for TouchPlay owners or distributors, but will try to act to “mitigate losses” for small businesses that bought the machines.
Senate Co-Leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, will be hosting the legislators’ private meeting with Attorney General Tom Miller. “We want to ask the attorney general to approach the companies that are involved in this whole discussion, make a good-faith attempt to identify what these companies’ losses are and what kind of solutions we might be able to engage in,” Gronstal says. Last Tuesday, the House passed separate legislation which would keep the machines operating ’til September 1st.
The Senate last Monday voted down an amendment that would have done much the same thing, but Gronstal believes he can convince a majority of senators to join the 22 who voted to keep the machines going five and a half more months. If the machines are kept around ’til September 1st, Gronstal is appears an additional 25 million dollars could be generated for the owners of the machines. “That’s a significant chunk of money,” he says.
Senator Mary Lundby, a Republican from Marion, was a leader of the effort to get rid of the machines within 45 days. Lundby admits there’s “been a little chatter” that senators may be discussing the issue again, and Lundby can’t predict what the mood of the Senate will be in the next few days.