Prairie Meadows casino license eligibility to be voted on

Ben Theobald

Residents of Polk County will vote Nov. 2 to decide whether to give eligibility to license Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino.

Polk County is 1 of 18 counties in Iowa that has referendum vote by its citizens to determine its eligibility for a casino license.

State law requires all counties in Iowa that have a casino or have passed a referendum in favor of gambling to be on the ballot every eight years. The first statewide referendums were in 2002. Prairie Meadows is following the law by being on the ballot in Polk County.

The most recent vote was in 2002, said Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association. “Since 2002, there have been five new casino licenses that are also on the ballot for 2010.”

Counties passed the referendums by an average of 74 percent at that time, Ehrecke said.

“The first votes for counties licensing casinos came in 1989 and 1991,” Ehrecke said. “In 1994 a requirement was put in to have a vote every eight years by all the counties.”