Governor Culver says he “respects” the decision Racing and Gaming Commissioners made today in awarding one new casino license for Lyon County in far northwest Iowa, while denying licenses to Fort Dodge, Ottumwa and Tama.
“They’re the independent body that ultimately makes the decision,” Culver says.
In early March, Culver sent a letter to the gaming commissioners, urging them to approve licenses for all four communities. Culver said at the time that “new jobs are difficult to come by” and the projects would “generate hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs” in the casinos. This morning, Culver defended his decision to send that letter.
“I think it’s important for everyone to know where a governor stands. That’s why a public letter made perfect sense,” Culver said. “Commission members had asked me prior to that letter. The executive director of the Racing and Gaming Commission had asked me prior to that letter. The four communities had asked me prior to that letter. I felt I had an obligation to make sure everyone understood I was for job creation in those four communities.”
Culver has publicly backed the idea of new casinos for Fort Dodge and Ottumwa since the 2006 campaign.
UPDATE: Just before 3 p.m. today Culver issued a written statement.
DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver today released the following statement related to the action of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission on pending applications:
“I congratulate residents of Lyon County on being successful in securing a new casino project that will serve northwest Iowa and will help create jobs and stimulate significant new tourism from other states.
“As I have said often, we need to do everything we can to create jobs in Iowa during this time of economic challenge. While the overall economic outlook is improving and Iowa is recovering from the recession faster than other states, our job-creation work is far from over. Citizens living in all parts of Iowa deserve to participate in the economic growth that can be ours.
“Although we share the disappointment that is felt by many communities as a result of today’s decision by the Racing and Gaming Commission, the Lt. Governor and I pledge to do everything we can to assist communities in Webster, Wapello and Tama counties with their job preservation and creation efforts, now, and in the future.”