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 TheIowaRepublican.com 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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