State Senator Jack Hatch, the Democratic Party’s nominee for governor, suggests the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission made a mistake two months ago in rejecting a casino license application from Cedar Rapids.
“It might have taken a little bit of a market share away from another gambling casino, but we’re not in the business of guaranteeing profits for any of these casinos,” Hatch says.
If he’s elected governor and the legislature passes a bill changing some of the criteria used to judge license applications, Hatch says he’d sign it into law. And Hatch suggests state gambling regulators should already be giving more weight to local voters who pass referendums in favor of new casinos.
“These communities, through their thoughtful process and vote of the people, decided that they wanted a casino,” Hatch says.
According to Hatch, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission “should have been more open” to considering how a casino could have helped Cedar Rapids recover from the 2008 flood.
“In Cedar Rapids, they were just inundated with the largest natural disaster in the state’s history. They’re bouncing back. You’ve got some creative business people there and local elected officials that have brought that city back to a new American city,” Hatch says. “And we have an opportunity to listen to those voters who said: ‘Listen, we want to do something to continue this momentum.'”
Cedar Rapids could reapply, but Hatch says the commission will likely reject their license application a second time unless the standards used to judge applications are different. Hatch made his comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program which will be broadcast at 7:30 Friday night on Iowa Public Television.
A spokesman for Governor Branstad’s campaign accuses Hatch of changing his position on this issue. Hatch in February said he would support changing the criteria by which casino license decisions are made, but Hatch also said the commission must “be careful” that new casinos “don’t interfere with the market” of existing casinos.