Casinos are billion-dollar boost to Iowa

Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s economy got a $1.01 billion boost from Iowa’s casino industry last year, according to a state commission.

The casinos paid more than $347 million to Iowa companies for equipment, supplies and services, and about $265 million in wages and benefits, according to a report by the Iowa Gaming and Racing Commission.

"It’s just another indicator that the gaming industry collectively is a valuable part of Iowa’s economy and is certainly adding a lot of value to the state’s entertainment and tourism industry," said Wes Ehrecke, president of the Iowa Gaming Association.

Ehrecke said more than 88 percent of the purchases of goods and services that could be made from Iowa firms went to the casinos. He said that’s up from 83.5 percent the year before, likely because Iowa-based companies were used in the construction of new casinos in Emmetsburg and Worth County.


"It means that there’s additional jobs that are created through those other companies for providing those products and services, and it just helps the overall economy in extraordinary ways," Ehrecke said.

Kate Cutler, chairwoman of the Gaming and Racing Commission, which regulates the state’s gambling industry, said it has always has pushed for casinos to use Iowa businesses to supply goods and services.

"We’re very committed to that," said Cutler, of Council Bluffs. "We think the use of Iowa vendors is one of the benefits that’s gained by having gaming ... within the state."

She said the commission requires that casinos look at bids from Iowa companies. If they don’t pick one from within the state, they must present a justification to the commission. It must approve any contracts the casinos enter into that will top $100,000.

Slot machines are an exception to that rule, and can be bought out of state.

The casinos have improved their track record of buying from Iowa companies and suppliers over recent years, said Commissioner Diane Hamilton.

"It’s all in an effort to have more tax money and support more businesses in the state of Iowa," she said.

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