The Iowa Lottery Board went into closed session to discuss the three remaining TouchPlay lawsuits Monday. The legislature ordered the lottery to shut down the TouchPlay machines about one year ago. The state then reached an out-of-court settlement to pay Royal Financial 1.7 million dollars to end its suit with the state.
Lottery director Ed Stanek confirmed the three other Touchplay cases were the focus of the closed-door discussion. He says the litigation involving TouchPlay was discussed. Stanek however could not provide further details, only saying he knows the status of the cases.
Stanek says he’s not at liberty to discuss the issue. Stanek did say a settlement hasn’t been reached in any of the three cases. While he couldn’t talk about the ongoing legal status of the TouchPlay, Stanek did comment on one of the criticisms that led to the demise of the TouchPlay machines. Some critics said the TouchPlay machines look too much like slot machines, and led to more problem gamblers.
Stanek says that was a concern, and something they monitored, but says they never saw any attribution to increased problem gambling linked to any lottery product, including TouchPlay. Stanek says the TouchPlay machines have been gone for a year, and calls to the gambling treatment hotline have gone up 15-percent.
Stanek says one problem gambler is too many, but says the overall numbers didn’t show that TouchPlay contributed significantly to the overall problem gambling numbers when compared to other gambling venues. Stanek says the percent of callers to the gambling treatment line that cite the lottery as the source of their problem has continued to stay below five-percent, even when TouchPlay machines were operating. Stanek attributes the increase in calls to the gambling hotline to the expansion of the casino industry.