Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats says state government is addicted to gambling and it’s time to start a process to eliminate legalized gambling in Iowa. “We need to wean ourselves off of gambling,” Vander Plaats says. “…As governor I’d say, ‘I’m definitely against the expansion of gambling’ and I’ve been very clear about that and on record about that, but the step two is we need to get our state government in order. We then need to put in an economic development plan where you have start-up and development and businesses can grow and succeed and then I think we’ll see we don’t need that gambling anymore.”
Former Governor Terry Branstad, a competitor for the Republican Party’s 2010 gubernatorial nomination, signed the law in 1983 when legalized parimutuel gambling — wagering on horse and dog races. Two years later, Branstad approved creation of the state-run Iowa Lottery. In 1989, Branstad signed the law which ushered in casino-style gambling, but it was originally limited to riverboats. Vander Plaats suggests Branstad — with that history — is vulnerable when he argues against the current governor’s call for four new casinos in Iowa.
“Every time that we’ve hit an economic glitch, an economic hiccup, it’s like we resort to gambling. We instituted gambling, we’ve brought in the state lottery, we’ve brought in pari-mutuel betting and now you fast-forward to 2010 and Culver wants to expand gambling,” Vander Plaats says. “…It’s all because they want to grow the government of the state of Iowa.”
Vander Plaats says gambling isn’t economic development, but counties which are host to casinos today need to see businesses grow in their areas before they’d vote against the periodic referendums which allow casino gambling to continue.
“I’m not comfortable in setting a timeline to say, you know, this is when you would see gambling is out of the state of Iowa,” Vander Plaats says. “I think it’s going to be how successful we are in shrinking government, how successful we in developing an economic plan to create jobs in this economy. I’m not one of those candidates who is just going to throw numbers in the air and say, ‘This is what I’m going to do.'” That’s a direct shot at Branstad, who has said his goals if he’s elected to a fifth term would be to create 200,000 new jobs in Iowa and cut state spending by 15 percent.
The state regulates the casinos and the race tracks, but the Iowa Lottery is run by the state. Vander Plaats says he has concerns about Lottery advertising, as he says it spreads a message the you can succeed with mere luck rather than hard work. Vander Plaats would shift Lottery profits into a separate account, too, as the Lottery proceeds are now used for general state spending and Vander Plaats says that has created a “zest” among state officials to support more and more gambling.
Vander Plaats made his comments during this morning’s taping of the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press.”