Information from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission shows the gambling industry has a $1 billion direct impact on the state, and now a new survey shows the overall impact is more than double that amount. The president of the Iowa Gaming Association, Wes Ehrecke, says a study commissioned by the American Gaming Association looked at the secondary or “ripple effect.”
“When the employees from the casinos take their dollars and reinvest in the community, the many vendor companies that we use for this Buy Iowa First program, and that ripple effect shows that there’s a $2.5 billion annual economic impact supporting 16-thousand jobs and over 725 million in taxes generated,” Ehrecke says.
Ehrecke says that’s a lot of money turning over. “It spreads out throughout the entire economy of the state, certainly within these respective communities where these casinos are located — the 18, now soon to be 19 casinos. There’s that impact at the local level, but it also impacts the entire state, there’s certainly the taxes that the legislature allocates in many visionary ways,” according the Ehrecke.
The study by Oxford Economics comes on the heels of a study showing support of gambling has increased in Iowa. “Over 80 percent of people when polled think that going to a casino is an acceptable form of entertainment for themselves of others. That’s always remained pretty high,” Ehrecke says. “We strive to be premiere entertainment destinations and certainly want to be a viable part of Iowa’s economy, adding value to the state’s tourism and entertainment industry for years to come.”
Ehrecke says the casinos have weathered the economic downturn like other businesses and also have face some challenges recently. “January and February of 2014 was probably about as brutal as it could be with ice and snow and sub-zero temperatures for many weeks, and you just don’t get that back where people stayed home,” Ehrecke says. He says they face continued challenges with the ag prices being depressed and hurting Iowa’s economy, as all those things are is tied into where people’s discretionary income is spent. But Ehrecke says the industry is looking forward to the future.
“We’re optimistic that the next couple of years will continue to improve, as well as with the casinos going to land based, several more doing that, will help with that as well,” Ehrecke says. For more on the study, go to : www.gettoknowgaming.org.