Monday, March 06, 2006

The TouchPlay Recipe

As the legislature peels off the layers, the TouchPlay problem just keeps getting uglier. Krusty Konservative is doing a great job keeping people updated on the TouchPlay bottom line -- money for the rich and well connected at the expense of families on the margin.

I figure I'll plate up my version for y'all.

The TouchPlay gambit must start with the most important ingredient - the imperious Dr. Ed.

(Ed Stanek actually opens an email to legislators with this sentence: From a newspaper article yesterday, it appears as though few legislators are aware of the TouchPlay financial flow charts that were sent by the Lottery two weeks ago to legislative staff in answer to a question that arose at the prior meeting of the Oversight Committees…)

Toss in the TouchPlay coalition – all the lobbyists and their deep pocket friends – working to keep the games up and the money flowing.

"We want the Iowa Legislature to have the information it needs to make an informed decision about the future of TouchPlay," Mike Triplett, a coalition member, said in a written statement. "It's important to provide Iowans with a clear understanding of this private/public partnership and the benefits that TouchPlay brings to Iowa." (DMR link & I seriously hope I'm not the only one that thinks this quote is absurdly funny.)

Mix with the Speaker’s artful press event exclaiming his incredulousness at the gross profits of TouchPlay followed by a curious digression into the importance of oversight for all types of gamming.

''When you break the numbers out based on how much, given the number of Iowans, is being spent, that number to me is staggering,'' said Rants, R-Sioux City. ''That's a very high number, considering its such a short time we've had them.'' …

… ''Maybe those are the kinds of decisions that really should be made by policy makers instead of being made by boards and commissions and people like that,'' Rants said. (CR Gazette link)

Then stir for this classic political dish: politicians expressing public empathy for the discontented while workin’ the back rooms arm-twisting the money players for a larger percentage of gross revenues.

Despite the current political rhetoric, I seriously doubt TouchPlay lottery is going away. It’ll look different; the blinking, flashing and ringing will cease, the locations may change, special rooms will be constructed to hide the obvious, and, perhaps, each county will be allowed to vote on whether or not to have these machines. This is just a guesstimate at what a compromise might look like.

To get to this sort of compromise, the TouchPlay money guys are going to have to fold some rounds and let the state take a bigger bite of the profits. It’s only fair, since the state does have to pick up the Medicaid hospital bed that the diabetic TouchPlay junky takes up because she stopped taking her meds because she couldn’t afford them and now her foot ulcer is infected with some flesh eating microbe that a local trial lawyer had planted in the air-conditioning unit and ...well, y’all know the rest of this story. It just keeps spinning.

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