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Iowa Governor Pushes Regulators Towards Casino Expansion

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The state of Iowa currently has seventeen state-licensed casinos, but Governor Chet Culver believes that more are needed. That is why he is asking regulators to approve four new licenses.

Iowa has been hit hard by the economic recession in the US, and like other states, is looking for ways to balance a major budget deficit. One way, according to Culver, is to add the revenue that four new casinos would bring to the state.

It is estimated that if the new casinos were approved, $250 million would be added to the state. Those are figures that Culver believes cannot be passed up. In addition, thousands of jobs would be created at a time when unemployment rates are high.

"Iowa is no different than other states that have expanded gambling in that they are doing so with the sole purpose of helping the economy recover quicker rather than later," said Gaming Analyst Steve Schwartz, "Twenty-one licenses, however, may crowd the industry."

That is the decision that gaming regulators must make. They must decide whether expansion would be good for the state. Those currently owning casinos are not excited about the prospects of more competition.

Four counties are currently seeking the licenses. Webster, Tama, Lyon, and Wapello county voters have all approved new casinos, and are waiting on the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to make their decision.

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