May 5th, 2011

Purity = Internet Gambling? Who Knew!

In May of last year, Danny Carroll, the Chairman of the Iowa Family Policy Center, spoke out against the State of Iowa adding another casino.  In doing so, he also used the opportunity to blast Terry Branstad for signing a bill that legalized riverboat gambling and the lottery in Iowa during Branstad’s previous stint as governor.

A press release from the Iowa Family Policy Center on May 4, 2010 concluded with the sentence, “The Iowa Family Policy Center has long opposed gambling, and is actively opposed to any further expansion of gambling in Iowa.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Bob Vander Plaats, who, at the time, was running against Branstad in the Republican gubernatorial primary and who is now Carroll’s boss as the head of The FAMiLY Leaders, was also trying to make inroads with primary voters on the issue of gambling.  In each of the three primary debates, Vander Plaats attacked Branstad on the issue of gambling.

Since Carroll and Vander Plaats were so outspoken on the issue of gambling a year ago, I’m shocked that The FAMiLY Leader has been silent on the gambling issue since the Republican gubernatorial primary ended last June.

Earlier this week, the Iowa House passed a law that essentially moves Iowa towards allowing online gambling within its boundaries.  The bill, which the Iowa Senate already approved, passed with bipartisan support garnering the support of two-thirds of the House.  Even Rep. Kim Pearson voted for the bill.

I thought it was interesting that the Iowa Catholic Conference and the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition each declared that their organizations was opposed the bill, while The FAMiLY Leader didn’t register on the bill at all.  Talk about ironic.

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition has been criticized repeatedly during the legislative session because they backed the late term abortion ban, while groups like The FAMiLY Leader opposed the bill because it wasn’t good enough.

In addition to studying online gambling, the bill makes a few other changes, like eliminating the ten-year referendum vote on whether or not the people want to continue to let and existing casino continue to operate in their county.  Vander Plaats told back in April of 2010 that the ten-year county referendum was an important tool that Iowans could use to roll back gambling in the state.   If that is Vander Plaats’ position, then why is his organization indifferent about it now that he’s not running for office?

Online gambling would represent that largest expansion of gambling the state could ever allow.  There are already casinos within an hour’s drive of just about anywhere in Iowa.  The people of Iowa were outraged when the Iowa lottery introduced its Touch Play machines that resembled slot machines in gas stations, bars, and grocery stores across the state.  The public’s reaction got those machines removed, but online gambling through the lottery or through Iowa’s land-based casinos would make Touch Play look like kids play.

It’s troubling that so many Republican legislators want to “study” this bad idea. It’s equally troubling that a group like The FAMiLY Leader only seems to care about the issue when they are trying to get Vander Plaats elected.  Branstad needs to veto this bill, and legislators need come to their senses and stop looking at gambling revenue as the easy way to get the state’s fiscal house in order.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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About the Author

Craig Robinson
Craig Robinson is the founder and editor-in-chief of, a political news and commentary site he launched in March of 2009. Robinson’s political analysis is respected across party lines, which has allowed him to build a good rapport with journalist across the country. Robinson has also been featured on Iowa Public Television’s Iowa Press, ABC’s This Week, and other local television and radio programs. Campaign’s & Elections Magazine recognized Robinson as one of the top influencers of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses. A 2013 Politico article sited Robinson and as the “premier example” of Republican operatives across the country starting up their own political news sites. His website has been repeatedly praised as the best political blog in Iowa by the Washington Post, and in January of 2015, Politico included him on the list of local reporters that matter in the early presidential states. Robinson got his first taste of Iowa politics in 1999 while serving as Steve Forbes’ southeast Iowa field coordinator where he was responsible for organizing 27 Iowa counties. In 2007, Robinson served as the Political Director of the Republican Party of Iowa where he was responsible for organizing the 2007 Iowa Straw Poll and the 2008 First-in-the-Nation Iowa Caucuses. Following the caucuses, he created his own political news and commentary site, Robinson is also the President of Global Intermediate, a national mail and political communications firm with offices in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. Robinson utilizes his fundraising and communications background to service Global’s growing client roster with digital and print marketing. Robinson is a native of Goose Lake, Iowa, and a 1999 graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, where he earned degrees in history and political science. Robinson lives in Ankeny, Iowa, with his wife, Amanda, and son, Luke. He is an active member of the Lutheran Church of Hope.

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