Our Opinion: State showed poor planning

Thursday, March 23, 2006

State legislators acted quickly and decisively to ban Touch Play gambling machines in grocery stores and convenience stores, reacting to a widespread negative reaction from the public about Iowa getting a Las Vegas style look.

Whether or not the ban is justified, the after-the-fact ban showed poor planning on the part of the state.

Gambling in Iowa has slowly become less restrictive over several decades, with the state seeking to gain more revenue from expanded gambling opportunities.

The latest loosening of the restrictions involved allowing Touch Play machines resembling casino slot machines into grocery stores and convenience stores.

After legislators viewed the machines in operation, and heard reaction from their constituents, the legislators reversed state policy, giving businesses 45 days to cease operations.

Now lawsuits against the state are imminent with the state possibly liable for millions of dollars that businesses are out from investing in the previously allowed activity.

The state legislature, usually more prone to slowness than haste, should have considered the legal implications more carefully before its latest action.

Perhaps the liability could have been eliminated or mitigated by a less hasty course of action.