Iowa Public Television

 

Senator Tom Courtney & Representative Jeff Elgin

posted on February 2, 2006

Borg: A CASINO LOOK FOR SOME IOWA GROCERY STORES, AND REAL CASINOS DON'T LIKE IT. VIDEO GAMING IS A HIT AND IT'S GENERATING HEAT FOR IOWA LEGISLATORS. WE'LL DISCUSS IT WITH DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR TOM COURTNEY AND REPUBLICAN REPRESENTATIVE JEFF ELGIN ON THIS EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS.'

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

ON STATEWIDE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION, THIS IS THE FRIDAY, JANUARY 27 EDITION OF IOWA PRESS. HERE IS DEAN BORG.

Borg: SOME SAY THE STATE OF IOWA HAS SKIDDED ALONG THE PROVERBIAL SLIPPERY SLOPE INTO A MAJOR EXPANSION OF GAMBLING. THE ISSUE IS NEW GAMING DEVELOPED BY THE IOWA LOTTERY. IT'S CALLED THE VIDEO LOTTERY, AND IT'S RAISED TWO MAJOR CONCERNS. THE FIRST IS THE PHYSICAL APPEARANCE OF THE MACHINES THAT DISPENSE LOTTERY TICKETS. WITH BLINKING LIGHTS AND THE GLITZY APPEARANCE, THEY CLOSELY RESEMBLE CASINO SLOT MACHINES, WHICH BY LAW ARE AVAILABLE ONLY IN FACILITIES REGULATED BY THE IOWA RACING AND GAMING COMMISSION. THAT BRINGS UP THE SECOND CONCERN: SOME 5,000 VIDEO LOTTERY MACHINES ARE NOW IN PLACE STATEWIDE AT SOME 2,600 GAS STATIONS, GROCERY AND CONVENIENCE STORES, BARS, AND RESTAURANTS. THE TROUBLE IS THE LOTTERY MACHINES ARE EXPECTED TO GENERATE SOME $30 MILLION FOR IOWA'S CASH THIRSTY TREASURY THIS YEAR, AND AS MUCH AS $45 MILLION DURING THE NEXT FISCAL YEAR. IOWA CASINOS ARE CRYING FOUL, AND GOVERNOR TOM VILSACK HAS CALLED FOR A MORATORIUM FROM PLACING ANY MORE MACHINES. LEGISLATORS ARE ALSO LOOKING FOR OPTIONS, AND TWO OF THEM ARE WITH US TODAY. REPRESENTATIVE JEFF ELGIN IS A REPUBLICAN FROM CEDAR RAPIDS. HE CHAIRS THE HOUSE STATE GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE. DEMOCRAT TOM COURTNEY FROM BURLINGTON COCHAIRS THE SENATE'S GOVERNMENT OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE. IT'S GOOD TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

Courtney: THANK YOU.

Elgin: THANK YOU, DEAN.

Courtney: IT'S GOOD TO BE HERE.

Borg: ALSO HERE AT THE TABLE: 'DES MOINES REGISTER' POLITICAL COLUMNIST DAVID YEPSEN AND 'ASSOCIATED PRESS' SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND STATEHOUSE REPORTER MIKE GLOVER.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, LET'S START WITH YOU. THIS CONTROVERSY TO SOME HAS COME OUT OF THE BLUE. HOW DID WE GET HERE?

Courtney: WELL, A LOT OF FOLKS SAY IT SNUCK UP ON US. I DON'T BELIEVE THAT IT DID. THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE BEGAN TALKING TO DR. STANEK WAY BACK IN 2001 BEFORE I GOT --

Glover: AND THIS IS EDWARD STANEK WHO RUNS THE STATE LOTTERY.

Courtney: YES, I'M SORRY. SO THAT WAS IN 2001. BY TIME I GOT THERE IN 2003, THE 2003 SESSION, DR. STANEK HAD MET WITH THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS, TOLD US WHERE HE WAS GOING. HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO START WORKING ON TOUCH PLAY. THAT WAS THE NEW THING THEN. HE HAD PICTURES. HE HAD LOTS OF STUFF TO LOOK AT, AND WE HAD NO OBJECTIONS. THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE THOUGHT IT LOOKED LIKE A GOOD THING. HE SAID HE THOUGHT HE COULD MAKE A LOT OF MONEY FOR THE STATE, AND WE STARTED DOWN THAT ROAD. I DON'T THINK IT WAS A SURPRISE TO THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN, HOW DID WE GET HERE? WAS THIS A SURPRISE OR DID WE KNOW ABOUT THIS?

Elgin: WELL, I'M NOT SURE -- YOU USE THE WORD SURPRISE; AS THE SENATOR SAID, DR. STANEK HAS GONE THROUGH THE PROCESS OF INFORMING THE LEGISLATORS. I THINK WE HAVE AN ISSUE TODAY OF CONSEQUENCES OF THE MACHINES. AND AS THEY HAVE MOVED FORWARD, THE CONCERN OF THE CITIZENS, I THINK IT'S AN ISSUE THAT NEEDS TO TAKE A SECOND LOOK AT.

Glover: SO WHO'S TO BLAME HERE? IF YOU BOTH SAY YOU KNEW WHAT YOU WERE APPROVING, YOU KNEW WHERE YOU WERE HEADED, AND NOW THEY SEEM TO BE HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT IT, WHO'S TO BLAME, REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN.

Elgin: WELL, I'M NOT SURE THAT THERE'S ANYBODY TO BLAME. I THINK IT'S AN ISSUE THAT, JUST AS WE ARE DOING WITH OUR SEX OFFENDER LAW, THAT WE HAD TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THAT, THE 2,000-FOOT RESTRICTION. THE CITY'S NOW HAVE STARTED TO MOVE IN THE OTHER AREAS IN RESTRICTING OF NOT ONLY FROM SCHOOLS AND FROM DAY CARE, BUT FOR OTHER FACILITIES WHERE CHILDREN ARE AT. SO WE'RE GOING TO TAKE A LOOK AT THAT AGAIN THIS YEAR, AND I KIND OF LOOK AT THIS LOTTERY ISSUE AS THE SAME ISSUE AS SAYING WHAT WE LOOKED AT ORIGINALLY AS A PULL TAB MACHINE HAS EVOLVED INTO THE MACHINES WE SEE TODAY. AND I THINK THAT THE CONCERN OF THE CITIZENS OF THIS STATE, WE NEED TO TAKE ANOTHER LOOK AT THAT AND SEE IF IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE WANT TO CONTINUE WITH OR SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO TAKE MAYBE SOME CHANGES.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, IS THERE BLAME HERE?

Courtney: I DON'T THINK THERE'S BLAME. I THINK DR. STANEK IS A VICTIM OF HIS OWN SUCCESS. THIS IS A DIRECTOR OF A DEPARTMENT THAT TOOK AN IDEA AND RAN WITH IT. HE'S MADE THE STATE OVER $30 MILLION. WE'RE GOING TO MAKE $45 OR $50 MILLION IN THE COMING YEAR. MOST DEPARTMENT HEADS THAT DID THAT, WE WOULD BE APPLAUDING.

Yepsen: WELL, SENATOR, IS THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ITSELF TO BLAME? YOU ARE CHARGED BY YOUR COLLEAGUES WITH OVERSEEING VARIOUS THINGS THAT THE GOVERNMENT DOES, THE NUTS AND BOLTS. IF YOU SAW THESE MACHINES, WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL YOUR COLLEAGUES ABOUT THEM?

Courtney: IT'S MY FEELING THAT THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE DIDN'T THINK THERE WAS ANYTHING WRONG WITH THEM. THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE LOOKED AT IT AND THOUGHT IT WAS FINE. I THINK IF THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE HAD FELT THAT THE REST OF THE LEGISLATURE WOULD OBJECT TO THAT, WE WOULD HAVE TALKED MORE ABOUT IT. I DON'T THINK THEY FELT THAT WAY.

Yepsen: THAT'S MY NEXT QUESTION. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM HERE? WE HAVE GAMBLING IN IOWA. WE'VE HAD IT. WHO CARES IF SOME OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES OUT THERE WANT TO GET IN THE GAME?

Courtney: I THINK THE PROBLEM IS THAT IT'S IN THE OPEN NOW AND PEOPLE GO TO THEIR SMALL, LITTLE STORE, AND THEY SEE PEOPLE GAMBLING. THERE ARE SEVERAL ISSUES. THERE'S A PROBLEM GAMBLER ISSUE THAT I THINK WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO ADDRESS. THERE'S THE ISSUE OF THE COUNTIES THAT DIDN'T VOTE FOR GAMBLING, AND THEY HAD VIDEO MACHINES. THERE WAS AN ARTICLE THIS MORNING IN THE PAPER ABOUT A COUNTY THAT DID THAT. SO I THINK THOSE ARE PROBLEMS THAT WE NEED TO LOOK AT.

Yepsen: MR. ELGIN, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

Elgin: WELL, I THINK THAT, YOU KNOW, WE HAVE A CONCERN THAT OBVIOUSLY THESE MACHINES ARE OUT THERE. THEY'RE GOING TO GROW. WE'VE GOT APPROXIMATELY 5,000 OF THEM PLACED RIGHT NOW. APPARENTLY LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE OF NEW MACHINES, WE COULD HAVE TWO OR THREE TIMES THAT MANY A YEAR FROM NOW ON IT. AND I THINK PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED THAT IS THIS WHAT WE PERCEIVED IN THE PAST AS LOTTERY PLAY, OR ARE WE MOVING INTO A DIRECTION THAT SAYS THIS IS MORE OF A CASINO TYPE OF OPERATION.

Yepsen: ARE IOWANS BEING A LITTLE BIT HYPOCRITICAL HERE? WE WANT OUR GAMBLING BUT WE LIKE IT ON THE EDGE OF TOWN WHERE WE CAN'T SEE IT.

Elgin: WELL, THAT'S AN INTERESTING POINT BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE SAID. YOU HAVE TO VOTE FOR GAMBLING IN YOUR PARTICULAR COUNTY. YOU HAVE TO NOW APPLY FOR A -- IF YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A CASINO, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO GO TO THE RACING AND GAMING AND PRESENT YOUR FACTS AND WHY YOU WANT A CASINO. OTHER COUNTIES HAVE SAID, NO, WE DON'T WANT TO DO THAT. SO, YES, WE ARE. WE'RE IN THAT BALANCING ACT OF TRYING TO DEAL WITH BOTH ISSUES OF ONES THAT DON'T WANT THE GAMBLING, AND THOSE WHO HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH IT.

Borg: SENATOR COURTNEY, ARE THERE LIMITS THAT SHOULD BE PUT ON THESE MACHINES, THEN?

Courtney: WELL, I DON'T KNOW THAT -- I THINK THAT THE LEGISLATURE WILL LIMIT THE NUMBERS, DEAN. I THINK NOW THAT WE'RE ABOUT -- THERE'S ABOUT 5,000. THERE'S 5,500 MORE IN THE PIPELINE. THOSE ARE COMING THIS WAY. THERE'S SOME QUESTION WHETHER THEY'RE LEGALLY CONTRACTED FOR. THERE'S SOME QUESTION WHETHER ANYBODY CAN GET OUT OF THOSE CONTRACTS. SO WE'RE LOOKING AT 10,000 MACHINES. I WILL BE TERRIBLY SURPRISED IF THE LEGISLATURE DOESN'T LIMIT IT AT LEAST TO THAT VERY SOON.

Borg: REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN, IS THAT SATISFACTORY WITH YOU THAT WE DON'T EXPAND ANY FURTHER?

Elgin: FROM OUR POINT, WE HAVE FORMED A SUBCOMMITTEE IN THE HOUSE AND THE STATE GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE. AND WE HAVE JUST STARTED TO TALK ABOUT THE ISSUE. WE HAVE ASKED FOR INFORMATION TO BE PROVIDED FOR US. IT'S TOO EARLY IN THE PROCESS TO MAKE THOSE KIND OF CHOICES YET UNTIL WE HAVE A CHANCE TO LOOK AT IT.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, LET'S LOOK AT THE REALISTIC WORKINGS OF THE IOWA LEGISLATURE. YOU'VE ALREADY SUGGESTED ONE COMPROMISE WOULD BE LIMITING THE NUMBER OF MACHINES THAT ARE ALLOWED IN CONVENIENCE STORES AND RETAIL OUTLETS. WHAT'S THE COMPROMISE IN THIS THING? LIMIT THE NUMBERS. WHAT ELSE?

Courtney: I THINK THE COMPROMISE IS LIMIT THE NUMBERS. I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF CONCERN WITH MINORS, THAT THESE MACHINES ARE BEING PLAYED BY MINORS. WE NEED TO RESTRICT ACCESS. AND I THINK ACTUALLY THAT'S THE ONLY COMPROMISES I REALLY SEE. I THINK THOSE TWO THINGS WILL MAKE A LOT OF DIFFERENCE, AND I THINK THOSE WILL BE THINGS THAT WE CAN LIVE WITH. AND I WANT TO SAY ONE OTHER THING. IF YOU COULD PUSH A BUTTON RIGHT NOW AND STOP ALL GAMBLING IN IOWA, I'D PUSH THE BUTTON. THAT'S BEEN DONE -- IOWANS HAVE DECIDED WE WANT GAMBLING AND WE HAVE GAMBLING IN IOWA AND I DON'T KNOW THAT WE CAN -- THAT THE LEGISLATURE IS OF A MIND TO STOP THAT. THERE'S AN AWFUL LOT OF PEOPLE AND AN AWFUL LOT OF LITTLE COMMUNITIES AROUND THIS STATE, THEY'RE MAKING 500 TO 1,000 A MONTH. IT'S PAYING THEIR RENT OR IT'S PAYING THEIR HEAT BILLS. THIS IS SMALL BUSINESS. THIS IS 2,600 SMALL BUSINESSES, IN MY VIEW, THAT WE WOULD BE HURTING IF WE DID AWAY WITH THESE MACHINES.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN, THE COMPROMISE THAT HAS BEEN OFFERED BY SENATOR COURTNEY IS YOU LIMIT THE NUMBER OF MACHINES AND YOU MAKE IT TOUGHER FOR YOUNG PEOPLE TO PLAY THESE MACHINES. IS THAT A COMPROMISE YOU CAN LIVE WITH?

Elgin: WELL, AGAIN, I THINK IT'S TOO EARLY IN THE PROCESS. OUR COMMITTEE, WHEN WE MET THE FIRST TIME TO ORGANIZE, I THINK IT WAS FOR OUR SEVEN MEMBERS, VERY CLEAR THAT WE WANT TO REVIEW THE LAW. AND WE'RE NOT AT A POINT YET TO SAY WHETHER THESE MACHINES ARE LEGAL UNDER THE LAW TODAY. WHEN WE DECIDE THAT, THEN WE CAN START TALKING --

Glover: IS THERE A QUESTION IN YOUR MIND AS TO WHETHER THE LOTTERY HAD THE AUTHORITY TO DO THIS? I MEAN IT SEEMS TO ME THAT WHAT SENATOR COURTNEY IS SAYING IS IT CAME TO THE LEGISLATURE, THIS IS WHAT WE'RE DOING, THE LEGISLATURE SAID OKAY.

Elgin: WELL, IT'S AN INTERESTING QUESTION. WHAT I THINK WE REALLY HAVE IS A WAKEUP CALL FOR THE LEGISLATORS AND FOR THE STATE OF IOWA THAT THE ABILITY OF TECHNOLOGY TO MOVE AN IDEA FORWARD HAS BEEN SHOWN HERE. WE STARTED OUT WITH A MACHINE THAT LOOKED ONE WAY, AND WE NOW HAVE A MACHINE THAT IS ENTIRELY DIFFERENT. THE CONCEPT MAY BE THE SAME, BUT THE MACHINES ARE DIFFERENT. AND NOW WE'VE GOT TO LOOK AT IT. IF WE LOOK AT THE MACHINES AND WE SAY, WELL, ARE WE GOING TO BAN OR NOT BAN THOSE MACHINES, WE HAVE OTHER ISSUES THAT -- WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE HAVE A CD-ROM? THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT THE QUARTER CREDIT CARD TYPE OF PLAY WHERE YOU END UP BUYING THAT. IT'S A KIND OF AN LCD SCREENS AND YOU DO THAT. SO THERE ARE OTHER ITEMS THAT ARE MOVING FORWARD BECAUSE OF TECHNOLOGY, AS SAYING WHETHER WE BAN THESE MACHINES, WHETHER THERE WILL BE SOMETHING ON THE HORIZON AFTER THAT. I THINK WE NEED TO LOOK AT THE WHOLE CONCEPT OF WHAT WE'RE GOING FORWARD WITH.

Yepsen: MR. ELGIN, I WANT TO GET YOU TO CRITICIZE YOUR COLLEAGUES. THERE'S A -- THERE IS -- THERE IS CODE LANGUAGE -- LANGUAGE IN THE IOWA LAW THAT AUTHORIZES THIS THAT THE LEGISLATURE PASSED AS PART OF A BUDGET BILL.

Elgin: YES.

Yepsen: IS THE IOWA LEGISLATURE GUILTY OF NOT READING THE BILLS?

Elgin: NO.

Yepsen: ARE YOU GUILTY OF NOT LOOKING AT -- AT THE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE NOT LOOKING AT SIDE-BY-SIDE PICTURES THAT MR. STANEK SHOWED THEM OF WHAT A SLOT MACHINE LOOKS LIKE AND WHAT A TOUCH PLAY MACHINE LOOKS LIKE. ARE YOU GUILTY OF NOT PAYING ATTENTION?

Elgin: I THINK WHEN YOU'RE LOOKING AT THAT IN TERMS OF THE INTERPRETATION, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE WE -- WE HAVE RULES COMMITTEE AND THE RULES COMMITTEE SIT THERE EVERY WEEK DEALING WITH RULES PROPAGATED OFF OF LEGISLATION THAT WE HAVE DONE. SO WHEN WE TAKE THE STATEMENT A PULL-TAB VENDING MACHINE WITH VIDEO MONITORING, DO THESE MACHINES -- ARE THOSE QUALIFIED OR NOT QUALIFIED UNDER THAT PARTICULAR INTERPRETATION? SO --

Yepsen: SO IT'S THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

Elgin: I AGREE.

Yepsen: WHAT ABOUT CONTRACTS, MR. ELGIN? YOU ARE A BUSINESSMAN, HAVE BEEN A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMAN. BASED UPON THIS LAW, THE LOTTERY WENT OUT AND SIGNED A BUNCH OF CONTRACTS WITH SMALL BUSINESSES AND CONVENIENCE STORES TO PUT THESE MACHINES IN. NOW, IF THE LEGISLATURE COMES IN AND SAYS, OH, NO, THIS ARE ILLEGAL, ISN'T THE LEGISLATURE GOING TO PUT THE STATE OF IOWA ON THE HOOK FOR INTERFERING WITH PRIVATE CONTRACTS?

Elgin: IT COULD VERY WELL. IT'S A DIFFICULT SITUATION. THERE HAS BEEN, YOU KNOW, MILLIONS OF DOLLARS INVESTED INTO THESE MACHINES BY SMALL BUSINESSMEN. AND IT WILL BE A DIFFICULT SITUATION. EVEN IF WE LIMIT THE NUMBER OF THOSE. OBVIOUSLY, THERE ARE CONTRACTS THAT ARE IN THE WORKS RIGHT NOW AS TO WHETHER WE CAN FULFILL THOSE CONTRACTS OR WHETHER PEOPLE ARE GOING TO HAVE A LEGITIMATE ISSUE SAYING WE BROKE THE CONTRACT.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, ANOTHER PROBLEM THIS LEGISLATURE FACES IF THEY TRY TO MOVE IN AND JERK THESE MACHINES OUT IS THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THESE MACHINES WILL BRING INTO THE STATE EVERY YEAR. YOU MENTIONED, $40, $45, $50 MILLION THIS COMING YEAR THAT THESE MACHINES WILL GENERATE. IF YOU DECIDE TO JERK THEM OUT, WHERE DO YOU GET THAT MONEY?

Courtney: THAT'S EXACTLY THE QUESTION THAT I ASKED MY COLLEAGUES ON THE RULES COMMITTEE. SOMEBODY HAS GOT TO SHOW ME WHERE WE FILL THE HOLE. WE'VE ADDICTED OURSELVES TO GAMBLING IN THIS STATE. IF WE'RE GOING TO DO AWAY WITH GAMBLING, THEN WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT HOW WE'RE GOING TO BACK FILL THOSE HOLES, AND I DON'T KNOW WHERE THAT MONEY IS GOING TO COME FROM. THAT'S WHY MY OPINION WOULD BE TO GO MUCH SLOWER ON THIS.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN, THE SAME QUESTION TO YOU. IF LEGISLATORS DECIDE THESE MACHINES HAVE GONE BEYOND THE PURVIEW OF WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO FOR GAMBLING, WHERE DO YOU GET THE MONEY?

Elgin: WELL, WE HAVE THE ONE ISSUE IN TERMS OF THE GAMBLING DOLLARS FROM RACING AND GAMING ARE ALREADY INTO THE BUDGET. THE BUDGETS HAVE NOT BEEN BUILT ARE -- THE 2007 BUDGET HAS NOT BEEN BUILT AROUND THESE FORECASTED REVENUES. THOSE HAVE NOT BEEN USED BY THE FISCAL BUREAU TO BE PUT IN THERE. THE GOVERNOR HAS NOT USED THEM. SO WE DO STILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT THIS BEFORE WE DECIDE WHETHER -- BEFORE WE'RE HOOKED ON THAT MONEY, AND IT'S ALREADY BEEN SPENT.

Glover: SO YOU DON'T THINK YOU'RE AT RISK OF LOSING MONEY, HAVING A BACK FILL TO FILL.

Elgin: WELL, WE ALWAYS HAVE THAT ISSUE BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY THE GOVERNOR'S BUDGET HAS OTHER TAX INCREASES INCLUDED IN THAT. AND WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CONSIDER THOSE. AND IF WE DECIDE THAT'S NOT THE ALTERNATIVE WE WANT TO GO, THEN OBVIOUSLY $30 MILLION TO $50 MILLION OF LOTTERY MONEYS ARE SOMETHING THAT WILL HAVE TO BE CONSIDERED.

Borg: SENATOR COURTNEY, MOVING BEYOND THE STATE'S ADDICTION TO THE REVENUE FROM THIS, YOU TOUCHED EARLIER -- HAD A CONCERN ABOUT PERSONAL, NOT YOUR OWN, BUT THOSE WHO MAYBE CAN SELF-DISCIPLINE THEMSELVES TO STAY AWAY FROM CASINOS BUT THEY HAVE TO GO INTO A GROCERY STORE AND THEY ARE TEMPTED. EXPAND ON YOUR CONCERNS THERE.

Courtney: WELL, I AM -- I AM CONCERNED THERE. THE GAMBLING ADDICTION IS A STRONG ADDICTION, AND I'M CONCERNED WITH THAT. AND I THINK WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT SOME KIND OF GUIDELINES. RIGHT NOW YOU CAN SELF-BAN YOURSELF FROM A CASINO. YOU CAN'T DO THAT ON THESE MACHINES. THERE'S NO WAY TO SELF-BAN YOURSELF. SO IF WE'RE GOING TO LEAVE THEM IN THERE, WE NEED TO FIGURE OUT A WAY TO SELF- -- THE PEOPLE THAT ARE SELF-BANNED WON'T BE ABLE TO USE THEM.

Borg: AND WHAT MIGHT YOU PROPOSE THERE?

Courtney: WELL, ONE THOUGHT WAS A SLOT ON THE SIDE OF THE MACHINE TO PUT YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE IN. THE DRIVER'S LICENSE WOULD RUN A QUICK CHECK, AND IF YOU HAD SELF-BANNED, THAT WOULD SHOW UP. THE COMPANIES THAT MAKE THE MACHINES SAY THEY CAN ALSO MAKE A CHIP -- SOME KIND OF A CHIP AVAILABLE THAT YOU COULD WALK UP TO THE COUNTER AND BUY THE CHIP. WHEN YOU BOUGHT THE CHIP, YOU'D SHOW YOUR DRIVER'S LICENSE AND QUICKLY CHECK YOUR BACKGROUND CHECK THERE, AND YOU WOULD USE THE CHIP TO PLAY. SO I THINK THE TECHNOLOGY IS THERE. THERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS, BUT I WANT TO SAY ONE OTHER THING. THOSE PEOPLE THAT GO INTO THOSE STORES, I WANT TO GIVE THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS. THOSE PEOPLE WHO GO INTO STORES, WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT ARE ALCOHOLICS WHO BUY GROCERIES IN STORES WHERE THEY SELL BEER. WE HAVE PEOPLE THAT PROBABLY HAVE TERRIBLE CANCERS THAT GO IN STORES WHERE THEY SELL CIGARETTES. SO WE HAVE TO TAKE A LOOK AT THAT TOO. I DON'T WANT TO RESTRICT THIS SO BADLY THAT PEOPLE CAN'T USE THEM EITHER.

Yepsen: REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN, IS ONE OPTION WHAT WE CALL A GRANDFATHER CLAUSE, THAT THE LEGISLATURE SAYS, ALL RIGHT, WE'RE GOING TO ALLOW THESE MACHINES TO GO IN AND FULFILL OUR CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATION TO THEM, BUT AFTER A PERIOD OF TIME, A FEW YEARS, WHATEVER THE CONTRACT SAYS, THE MACHINE COMES OUT. IS THAT AN OPTION?

Elgin: OH, I THINK THAT WOULD BE AN OPTION THAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED.

Yepsen: SENATOR COURTNEY, IS THAT AN OPTION?

Courtney: CERTAINLY, CERTAINLY.

Yepsen: HOW LONG WOULD YOU GRANDFATHER THESE THINGS IN FOR? WOULD IT BE A COUPLE YEARS? WOULD IT BE SIX MONTHS? WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Courtney: I'D AT LEAST LIKE TO SEE THEM. IF THAT WOULD COME TO PASS, I'D PUSH THE GRANDFATHER LONG ENOUGH THAT EVERYONE WOULD GET THEIR MONEY BACK, SO AT LEAST EVERYONE WOULD BE EVEN.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, YOU MENTIONED SOME RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF THESE MACHINES, AND IT SEEMS AS THOUGH AN EMERGING CONSENSUS IS THERE OUGHT TO BE SOMETHING PUT IN PLACE TO KEEP YOUNG PEOPLE AWAY FROM THESE MACHINES. HOW DO YOU DO THAT?

Courtney: I THINK, ONCE AGAIN, I THINK YOU DO IT WITH A DRIVER'S LICENSE, POSSIBLY A SLOT ON THE SIDE OF THE MACHINE. ONE PERSON GAVE ME A PROPOSAL THAT I DON'T THINK THAT'S TOO BAD, THAT YOU MIGHT START A FUND THAT'S PAID BY THE FOLKS THAT HAVE MACHINES, AND HAVE AN OFFICER GO AROUND AND DO STINGS LIKE WE DO IN ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO. THAT MIGHT WORK TOO. THAT MIGHT HELP KEEP THEM OUT TOO.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN, DOES THAT SOUND REASONABLE TO YOU?

Elgin: AGAIN, IN TERMS OF LOOKING AT ALL THE OPTIONS, AS YOU TWO GENTLEMEN KNOW, THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS, WE'LL TRY TO MOVE FORWARD WITH PROPOSALS. OBVIOUSLY THE GOVERNOR'S TASK FORCE WILL ALSO HAVE PROPOSALS. TO SAY WHAT WILL BE THE FINAL OUTCOME AND HOW WE FEEL --

Borg: BUT YOU HAVE YOUR OWN IDEAS. I MEAN YOU'RE GOING TO LISTEN TO EVERYBODY.

Elgin: ABSOLUTELY.

Borg: WHAT ARE YOUR IDEAS?

Elgin: AGAIN, AS A COMMITTEE SUBCHAIR, I THINK I WANT TO TRY TO STAY NEUTRAL AND OBJECTIVE IN THIS. AS YOU REMEMBER WHEN REPRESENTATIVE RAECKER DID OUR SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE GAMING ISSUE A COUPLE YEARS AGO, WE TRY TO MAKE IT AS OPEN OF A PROCESS AS POSSIBLE. AND WHAT THE LEGISLATION CAME OUT OF WAS A COMMITTEE BILL BASED ON THE DESIRES OF ALL THE COMMITTEE MEMBERS, NOT JUST THE PREFERENCE OF THE COMMITTEE CHAIR OR ONE PERSON. SO I WANT TO BE ABLE TO TRY TO SAY EVERYBODY WHO WANTS TO BE INVOLVED IN THIS DEBATE WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE INVOLVED IN IT, AND WE WILL SEE HOW THE -- HOW THE CHIPS FALL.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, THE LOTTERY IS PRETTY AGGRESSIVE IN ITS MARKETING OF ITS VARIOUS PRODUCTS, INCLUDING THIS. IS ONE OPTION TO TRY TO RESTRICT THEIR MARKETING -- TONE DOWN THEIR MARKETING?

Courtney: I DON'T THINK SO. I THINK THE LOTTERY IS THERE TO MAKE -- DESIGNED TO MAKE MONEY FOR THE STATE. AND IF WE'RE GOING TO -- IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE A BEAR, YOU BE A GRIZZLY AND YOU GO AFTER THIS THING AS HARD AS YOU CAN. THAT'S MY VIEW. SO IF WE'RE GOING TO BE IN A GAMBLING BUSINESS, LET'S BE IN GAMBLING BUSINESS.

Courtney: THAT'S RIGHT. LET'S GET OUT OF THE GAMBLING BUSINESS.

Glover: SO WHY DON'T WE JUST INVITE HARRAH'S IN AND START LAS VEGAS?

Courtney: I DON'T KNOW IF HARRAH'S WOULD COME TO IOWA. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Yepsen: MR. ELGIN, I UNDERSTAND YOU DON'T WANT TO TAKE A POSITION ON ANYTHING, BUT I ALSO WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S VIABLE AND WHAT ISN'T. SO IS ONE OPTION TO IMPOSE PENALTIES ON THESE TOUCH PLAY OPERATORS THAT ARE AKIN TO THE PENALTIES IMPOSED ON A CASINO? IF A KID GOES INTO A CASINO AND GAMBLES, THAT CASINO CAN GET THUMPED WITH SOME PRETTY BIG FINES.

Elgin: YES.

Yepsen: NOW, IF YOU GO INTO A CONVENIENCE STORE, NOTHING HAPPENS. WHY SHOULDN'T THAT CONVENIENCE STORE HAVE HIS LIQUOR LICENSE SUSPENDED FOR A WEEK? WHY SHOULDN'T THERE BE SOME SERIOUS PENALTIES ON THOSE BUSINESSES THAT HAVE THESE TOUCH PLAY MACHINES THAT DO ALLOW KIDS TO GAMBLE?

Elgin: I THINK YOU BRING UP VERY GOOD POINTS THAT WE WILL CONSIDER. I MEAN YOU CAN GO FROM A TOTAL BAN AND LET'S GET RID OF THE MACHINES, TO HEAVIER FINES, PENALTIES, MORE RESTRICTIONS, MORE REGULATIONS ON THESE PARTICULAR MACHINES. YOU CAN GO TO -- TO A REFERENDUM SAYING THAT THE COUNTIES ARE GOING TO VOTE WHETHER THEY WANT LOTTERY OPERATIONS OR NOT IN THEIR PARTICULAR COUNTIES. SO THERE'S A VARIETY OF WAYS THAT WE CAN MOVE FORWARD WITH THIS ISSUE ON IT.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, SHOULD LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE A SAY IN THIS? IF I'M A MEMBER OF A LOCAL COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS, SHOULD I BE ABLE TO SAY I DON'T WANT THESE THINGS IN MY COUNTY?

Courtney: WELL, I'M A BIG BELIEVER IN LOCAL CONTROL, BUT WE'VE NOT GIVEN THEM DECISIONS ON THE LOTTERY ITSELF. WE'VE SOLD THE LOTTERY THROUGHOUT THE STATE FOR YEARS AND YEARS, AND NO ONE HAS HAD THAT DECISION. I WOULD NOT BE OPPOSED TO THAT KIND OF LEGISLATION TO GIVE COUNTIES THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE CONTROL OVER THAT.

Glover: REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN? LOCAL CONTROL OF THIS, IS THAT AN OPTION?

Elgin: WELL, IT DEPENDS ON IN TERMS OF THE CONCEPT OF LOCAL CONTROL. ARE WE TALKING ABOUT CITIES BEING ABLE TO DO THAT? ARE WE TALKING ABOUT COUNTIES, AS I JUST EXPLAINED, THAT OBVIOUSLY THAT'S WHAT WE DO WITH THE CASINOS' OPERATIONS AND COUNTIES HAVE TO VOTE ON THAT. SO THERE IS PRESIDENCE IN LEGISLATION SAYING THAT WE'VE DONE THIS IN THE PAST.

Yepsen: WE HAVE CITY COUNCILS ALL OVER THE STATE DECIDE ON LIQUOR LICENSES ALL THE TIME, SO COUNTY BOARDS OF SUPERVISORS REGULATE CERTAIN SINS IN IOWA. WHAT'S WRONG WITH HAVING THEM DO THIS WITH THESE TOUCH PLAY MACHINES?

Elgin: IT MAY BE AN OPTION TO DO SO, AND THERE MAY BE -- IF WE LOOKED, THERE MAY BE LOCAL REGULATION ALREADY ON THEIR BOOKS THAT MAY HAVE A CONSEQUENCE ON THESE PARTICULAR TYPES OF MACHINES.

Yepsen: I FIND IT INTERESTING IN THIS DEBATE AT THE STATEHOUSE, SENATOR, THAT THE CONVENIENCE STORES ARE UP THERE ASKING -- THEY'RE SAYING THESE THINGS ARE VERY PROFITABLE AND THEY WANT TO KEEP THESE MACHINES IN AND HAVE EVEN MORE. AT THE SAME TIME THERE ARE LOBBYISTS UP THERE WHO ARE ASKING FOR TAX DOLLARS TO HELP SUBSIDIZE E85 PUMPS. WHY DON'T WE REQUIRE THE CONVENIENCE STORES TO USE THEIR TOUCH PLAY PROFITS TO PUT IN THE E85 PUMPS?

Courtney: THAT'S A NEW ONE. I'VE NOT HEARD THAT BEFORE. [ LAUGHTER ] I CAN'T ANSWER THAT. I DON'T KNOW.

Elgin: WELL, I THINK THERE HAS BEEN A BILL FILED THIS WEEK THAT WOULD SAY TAKE THE STATE'S PORTION OF THE LOTTERY PROFITS AND USE THAT FOR RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. SO THAT IDEA IS NOT SO FAR FETCHED THAT THERE MAY BE ISSUES OF HOW, IF IN FACT WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS, THEN CAN WE MAKE IT -- MAKE IT BETTER FOR THE CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF IOWA.

Courtney: ON THE OTHER HAND, THERE'S A LOT OF LITTLE MOM AND POP STORES THAT AREN'T GETTING RICH. AND I THINK THEY OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO USE THIS MONEY TO HELP PAY THEIR RENT OR PAY THEIR HEAT BILLS, AND THEY'RE NOT GETTING RICH FROM TOUCH PLAY. BUT THAT'S THE OTHER SIDE OF THAT COIN.

Yepsen: BUT SHOULDN'T THEY BE REQUIRED TO HAVE A SIMILAR PENALTY FOR ALLOWING UNDERAGE GAMBLING?

Courtney: YES, I AGREE THEY SHOULD.

Glover: SENATOR COURTNEY, IT STRIKES ME THAT IN THIS DEBATE, THERE ARE TWO EXTREMES. ON THE ONE EXTREME, THE LEGISLATURE DOES NOTHING AND LET THE LOTTERY EXPAND TILL THE MARKET IS FILLED. THE OTHER EXTREME IS TO JUST GO IN AND JERK ALL THESE MACHINES OUT TOMORROW. IS IT SAFE TO ASSUME THE LEGISLATURE WILL DO NEITHER OF THOSE EXTREMES?

Courtney: I THINK THAT WE'LL COMPROMISE SOMEWHAT. I THINK YOUR PREMISE IS RIGHT. I DON'T THINK THAT -- I DON'T THINK WE'RE JUST GOING TO LET IT GO, AND I DON'T THINK THAT WE'RE GOING TO RESTRICT IT ALL THE AWAY. I BELIEVE THAT THERE WILL BE A COMPROMISE IN THE MIDDLE SOMEWHERE. AS I SAID EARLY ON TODAY, I BELIEVE THAT WE'LL RESTRICT THE NUMBER OF MACHINES AND THERE WILL BE RESTRICTIONS.

Glover: AND REPRESENTATIVE ELGIN, YOU'RE STILL FORMULATING YOUR PROPOSAL. BUT IS IT SAFE TO ASSUME THAT YOUR PROPOSAL THAT COMES OUT OF YOUR COMMITTEE WILL NOT BE DO NOTHING OR WILL NOT BE JERK THE MACHINES OUT?

Elgin: I CAN'T EVEN MAKE THAT AS AN AFFIRMATIVE ANSWER ONE WAY OR THE OTHER. WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT IT AND SEE -- SEE WHAT THE FACTS LAY BEFORE US.

Yepsen: MR. ELGIN, WE'VE GOT ONLY ONE MINUTE LEFT. I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE POLITICS OF THIS. IS ONE OF THE REASONS YOU'RE HAVING TROUBLE DECIDING WHAT TO DO HERE IS BECAUSE THIS IS A REALLY TOUGH ISSUE FOR REPUBLICANS? YOU'VE GOT REPUBLICAN SMALL BUSINESSES ON ONE SIDE OF THIS THAT WANT THESE MACHINES. YOU'VE GOT REPUBLICANS WHO OWN CONVENIENCE STORES WHO WANT THEM. YOU'VE GOT REPUBLICANS WHO OWN CASINOS THAT WANT THEM. I MEAN ISN'T THIS A REAL BIG FIGHT AMONG REPUBLICAN CONSTITUENCY GROUPS?

Elgin: I THINK IT'S A MAJOR POLITICAL BATTLE WITH BOTH THE REPUBLICANS AND THE DEMOCRATS. I'VE HEARD FROM BOTH SIDES AND OBVIOUSLY OUR COMMITTEES ARE MADE UP OF FOLKS FROM BOTH PARTIES. AND WE HAVE -- WE HAVE BOTH REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS WHO ARE -- WHO HAVE GOT GAMBLING IN THEIR COMMUNITIES AND ONES WHO DON'T.

Yepsen: SENATOR COURTNEY, AS A GOOD DEMOCRAT, DO YOU ENJOY WATCHING REPUBLICANS FIGHT AMONG THEMSELVES OVER THIS ISSUE?

Courtney: YES, I DO. [ LAUGHTER ]

Borg: WELL, DO YOU SEE IT AS AN ELECTION ISSUE?

Courtney: YOU KNOW, I HONESTLY NECESSARILY DON'T SEE THIS AS AN ELECTION ISSUE. I THINK WE'RE GOING TO GET IT SETTLED THIS YEAR, AND I DON'T THINK THAT IT'S GOING TO BE NECESSARILY AN ELECTION ISSUE. I DON'T THINK THE PUBLIC SEES IT THAT WAY, AND I DON'T SEE IT THAT WAY.

Borg: THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR VIEWS. WE'RE OUT OF TIME. ON OUR NEXT EDITION OF 'IOWA PRESS,' WE'LL EXAMINE THE SUBJECT OF POSSIBLE CHANGES TO IOWA'S LAWS GOVERNING SEX OFFENDERS. THAT'S NEXT WEEKEND: 'IOWA PRESS' FRIDAY NIGHT AT 7:30 AND SUNDAY MORNING AT 11:30. NOW, HERE'S ANOTHER PROGRAM REMINDER. ON TUESDAY OF THIS COMING WEEK, BOTH 'FRONTLINE' AND IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOCUS ON THE CONTINUING BATTLE AGAINST THE PRODUCTION, DISTRIBUTION, AND USE OF METHAMPHETAMINE. THE 'FRONTLINE' PBS SPECIAL, 'THE METH EPIDEMIC' AIRS TUESDAY NIGHT -- THAT'S JANUARY 31 -- AT 8 THAT NIGHT. IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING, IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION PRESENTS A LIVE ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION WITH FOUR EXPERTS ON THE TOPIC. WE'LL BE TALKING WITH IOWA'S DRUG CZAR, MARVIN VAN HAAFTEN; CENTRAL IOWA DRUG COURT JUDGE KARLA FULTZ; IOWA DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH EPIDEMIOLOGIST DR. PATRICIA QUINLISK; AND DR. RIZWAN SHAH, WHO'S AN EXPERT IN THE TREATMENT OF METH ADDICTION. WE'LL PRESENT AN IOWA STATUS REPORT AND PROJECT WHERE DRUG CONTROL EFFORTS ARE HEADED IN IOWA. 'FRONTLINE' TUESDAY AT 8. AND THEN AT 9, OUR LIVE LOCAL DISCUSSION, THE METH EPIDEMIC IN IOWA. AN IMPORTANT ISSUE. I HOPE YOU'LL WATCH. I'M DEAN BORG. THANKS FOR JOINING US TODAY.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM WAS PROVIDED BY 'FRIENDS,' THE IOWA PUBLIC TELEVISION FOUNDATION; BY THE IOWA BANKERS ASSOCIATION... FOR PERSONAL, BUSINESS, AND COMMERCIAL NEEDS, IOWA BANKS HELP IOWANS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS; BY THE ASSOCIATED GENERAL CONTRACTORS OF IOWA, THE PUBLIC'S PARTNER IN BUILDING IOWA'S HIGHWAY, BRIDGE, AND MUNICIPAL UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE; AND BY CAPITOL RESOURCES, INC., LOCATED IN BROOKLYN, IOWA; AND BY NICOLE SCHLINGER AND ERIC LANGE INDIVIDUALLY, FUND-RAISING AND COMMUNICATION SERVICES FOR MAJOR CAMPAIGNS SINCE 1996.

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