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Iowa Making Steps Toward a Sports Betting Bill

Publish: 01.04.2019

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn PASPA and lift the federal ban on sports betting, a number of states have made wagering on sports legal.

Iowa is not among them, although the state is making good progress toward this goal.

Bringing Sports Betting to the State

Last February, a Senate committee successfully passed a proposal titled SB 1168, introduced by Senator Roby Smith whose provisions would allow casinos in Iowa to offer land-based and mobile betting to their customers. In addition to this one, another bill is also making progress.

HB 648 was approved by a subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee earlier this week, with a 4-1 margin. The proposal passed after a couple of changes were made to its language. Once it reaches the full committee it’s not expected to meet any resistance. The author of this bill,  Representative Bobby Kaufmann said this piece of legislation should be ready for the House approval in the first days of April.

Speaking about his proposal, Kaufmann explained the momentum was on the side of HB 648, as it was a priority among the leadership of both chambers to get this done. He pointed out he would make any necessary changes along the way, and emphasized he was very confident in getting the job done.

Under the provisions of the new bill, no in-game wagers on Iowa collegiate players will be allowed while the gross gaming revenue tax will be set at 6.75%, while 0.25% will be allocated for various programs aimed at dealing with problem gambling.

Certain Compromises Were Necessary

If adopted into law, HB 648 would require players to register in person when opening their mobile account, but it would also change the current subsidy paid by Prairie Meadows. At this moment, this venue gives 11% of its revenue to subsidise its live horse racing program. The bill would cut the amount to 6%, as it stipulates the percentage would be decreased once the size of contributions reaches $200 million.

The parts regarding the in-person registration and subsidy were added by Kaufmann himself and were needed to get the support of the committee’s chairman, Lee Hein. However, it is still unknown how will the lawmakers in the House react to these amendments, or if the two bills going to clash over this issue.

In addition to this, Kaufmann made other changes to get the support of Democrats in the House. Commenting on the compromises he had to make, Kaufmann said the bottom line was this thing wasn’t passing on the House floor without Democrat votes, so they simply had to make certain concessions.

HB 648 passed by only a 13-10 vote in its opening committee, while SB 1168 passed 8-6.

Kaufmann said he communicated regularly with Sen. Smith and added they worked together and were getting things as close as possible. He pointed out that although they might not be on the same page at the committee level, but hopefully they would get them practically identical on the floor.

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