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SD Gov. Candidates' Views Differ On Iowa Casino

July 28, 2010, 4:52 PM by Shawn Neisteadt

SD Gov. Candidates' Views Differ On Iowa Casino
LYON COUNTY, IA - The Iowa casino is now a hot button issue in South Dakota's race for governor.

Because of its location, Iowa gaming officials have said up to 80 percent of the casino's business will come from outside Iowa, most of that from South Dakota. That's gaining the attention of the gubernatorial candidates.

With a 100-room hotel, three restaurants, 1,200 seat event center and 900 slot machines, those behind the casino promise it will be a top-notch destination. But where the customers will come from for that casino is now in the center of a debate for those looking to win your vote for governor this November.

There's no delay in the construction of the Lyon County Casino. The $110 million destination is scheduled to open next July.

"This is happening. It's going to happen regardless of what we do in South Dakota, so we may as well recoup what we can within our own borders," Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Scott Heidepriem said.

Wednesday, on the edge of the casino's property, Heidepriem laid out his plan to try to keep money from leaving South Dakota. If elected, he says he'll form a bipartisan task force with the objective of finding any way possible to keep money in the state. That includes resurrecting talks of building a casino in the Sioux Falls area.

"What's going on behind us is a project by Iowa, for Iowa, in Iowa and paid for by the taxpayers in South Dakota," Heidepriem said.

Heidepriem says he recognizes that not everyone will agree with his stance against the Iowa casino, but the revenue is just too great to ignore. He estimates South Dakotans will generate $13 million in Iowa gaming taxes each year. And if South Dakota could find a way to cash in on that money, Heidepriem says it could easily pay for a new events center in Sioux Falls.

“That's how much money we're talking about here at the border and that's how critically important it is that South Dakota addresses this threat in a most serious way," Heidepriem said.

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Dennis Daugaard says the jury is still out on whether the casino will really harm South Dakota.

“I think it's also possible that folks that would not be coming to Sioux Falls might instead be attracted to the area by this casino and those visitors might make a trip into Sioux Falls to shop or to have alternate entertainment,” Daugaard said.

Daugaard also notes that if a tribal based casino would be built in the Sioux Falls area, like other tribal casinos in the state, it wouldn't have to pay any money to the state or local governments.

A non-tribal based casino would take a state constitutional amendment, and the earliest that could pass would be 2012.

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