Owners of the TouchPlay machines are borrowing a favorite phrase of Governor Tom Vilsack as they sue the state to try and get back some of their investment in the program the Legislature shut down in early May.
Machine owners like Mark Jacobs of Ankeny says it’s an issue of “Iowa Values,” a phrase the governor uses often in describing his proposals for the state. Jacobs says they hope the jury will see that they didn’t create or design the TouchPlay program, they were “just pulled along into it.”
Joleen Hedley of Dubuque expanded on that idea, saying it’s not about gambling, it’s about the deal the state made with the TouchPlay owners. Hedley says the bigger issue is that state leaders “pulled us into a program, promised us five years with this program, and decided after 10 months they no longer wanted to be a part of it. And they were going to take no responsibility for it.” Hedley says the attitude of the Legislature doesn’t reflect “Iowa Values.”
Jacobs says he purchased 85 TouchPlay machines at eight-thousand dollars each after getting what he thought was a long-term commitment from the state. He says they got involved in November or October, so his company never recouped much of the investing and is “on the hook” for seven or eight hundred thousand dollars.
Hedley says her family business also still owes lots of money. Hedley says they invested one-and-a-half million dollars in 203 machines and still owe roughly one-point-one million dollars. Hedley says the machines are now all collecting dust.
Hedley says to her knowledge, all the machines are now sitting in warehouses, as there is no other use for them. Hedley and Jacobs are among 25 TouchPlay owners that joined a lawsuit against the state over TouchPlay — bringing the number of owners involved to 30.