116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Radio Iowa's O. Kay Henderson says Gov. Chet Culver sent a letter to the Iowa racing and Gaming Commission urging them to approve casino bids for Wapello, Webster, Tama and Lyon counties.
“They've gone through the process like everyone else that's been granted a license and I think it's a matter of fairness and jobs, economic development, at a time when our state needs it,” Culver said.
The Gazette's story is here. The commission is meeting as I type, but a final decision is scheduled for May.
I've opined before that I think communities that vote to approve casino projects and meet application requirements should get a license. I understand but don't agree with the idea that we should shield existing casinos from "cannibalization," aka competition. This is a mature industry in a free market. It doesn't need regulatory coddling.
There's little political risk for Culver, and there could be some benefit in sticking up for these communities. If Culver faces Terry Branstad in the fall, TB is hardly going to be able to beat Culver up on gambling. Branstad is the founder of this high-stakes feast, after all.
I wonder how the commission will respond to this. Members are appointed by the governor, but they call the shots on licensing. Who will they listen to, the governor or existing casinos who don't want new rivals? I always bet on the casinos.
If Culver gets his way, and Iowa gets 21 state-licensed casinos, that would probably be the end of