The administrator of the state Racing and Gaming Commission told commissioners today (Thursday) that the casino industry generated over one billion dollars for the Iowa economy in 2008. Jack Ketterer says the 17 casinos purchased around $294-million in equipment and paid some $379-million in taxes, while also giving $83-million to charities.
The president of the Iowa Gaming Association, Wes Ehrecke, says the report shows how important the industry is to the state.
Ehrecke says it reflects that "we are a viable part of Iowa’s economy and adding a lot of value to the state’s entertainment and tourism industry."
The annual report on the gaming industry impact also showed a program requiring casinos to look for Iowa companies first when buying supplies has led to 92% of those items being purchased from businesses with ties to the state. Ehrecke says the program has come a long way.
Ehrecke says when the "Buy Iowa First" program started eight or nine years ago, there were around $140-million in purchases with 80% coming from Iowa businesses, and now it has gone to nearly $400-million and 92%.
Ehrecke handed out information that showed Iowa casinos had a 4.9% increase in gross gambling revenues last year, while Illinois had a 20.9% drop, and Colorado casinos saw revenue fall 12.3%. Ehrecke says both Illinois and Colorado implemented smoking bans in casinos last year — and that had an impact.
Ehrecke says it shows the importance of keeping Iowa’s smoking ban exemption in casinos. Ehrecke’s report showed the neighboring states of South Dakota and Missouri had increases in casino revenue of four-point-one percent and 5.6%.