Many Iowans living in counties where casinos are located are already getting campaign calls about gambling referendums which will appear on ballots in November. Iowa law requires a re-vote in 2010 on casino gambling in counties which have casinos, as well as those which have passed referendums in the past but haven’t yet won a state license. That means there’ll be gambling referendums in 20 Iowa counties in November.
Wes Ehrecke of the Iowa Gaming Association says the existing casino operators don’t want to leave anything to chance in 2010. “We’re less than five months from the general election where this ballot question will be on the back of the ballot,” he says. In past years, casinos have spent millions of dollars on campaigns in Iowa counties holding gambling referendums.
In 2002, gambling referendums passed by wide margins. “I believe the closest vote was 63 percent,” he says. “I believe the highest was 81 percent and the average was 74.” Casino interests failed this year to get the legislature to remove the requirement that county voters continue to pass gambling referendums every eight years.
Voters in Lyon County approved a gambling referendum in 2008 and won a casino license this spring, but state law still requires a re-vote in Lyon County. If it fails, a provision in state law would let the casino in Larchwood open and operate for nine years, giving the casino operators a chance to place another gambling referendum before Lyon County voters and win its approval.