Legal Sports Report

New Iowa Sports Betting Bill Includes Online Wagering, Could Be On Fast Track To Passage

Iowa sports betting 2019

Iowa sports betting could be on the fast track now that a new bill has dropped in the capitol.

A variety of sports betting bills had already been introduced in the state, but this seems to be the most serious effort and likely has the backing of the state’s casinos.

You can read Senate Study Bill 1168 here. A Senate subcommittee is scheduled to look at the bill in a meeting today.

Details of the bill

Introduced by Sen. Roby Smith, chairperson of the Committee on State Government, the legislation would authorize sports betting on professional and collegiate sports at the state’s 19 casinos, horse racing tracks and other “gambling structures.”

The highlights:

  • Online and mobile sports betting is allowed, but bettors have to sign up at physical sportsbooks run by licensees.
  • No royalty or integrity fee” payable to sports leagues is included in the bill’s language, but the state’s gaming commission is authorized to share any abnormal wagering activity with a sports team or league.
  • The legislation also seeks to legalize fantasy sports; operators like DraftKings and FanDuel have never served the state before.

The bill has no details regarding a tax rate or licensing as of yet.

Next steps for legislation

Smith is wasting no time in holding a hearing on the bill in his committee at 5 p.m. local time.

It will be the latest in a series of hearings held on the topic in the Iowa legislature this year. There are eight more sports betting bills currently active in the state.

A source tells Legal Sports Report that a House version of this bill is likely to drop this week, as well.

Iowa also considered sports betting legislation last year, but a bill never made it out of committee and the session ended just prior to the US Supreme Court decision to strike down the federal law preventing states from pursuing sports betting.

The 2019 Iowa legislative session is scheduled to go until May 3.

Gaming landscape in the state

There are a lot of gambling stakeholders in Iowa — riverboat casinos, racinos, Indian casinos, the state lottery — and all of them have shown an interest in offering sports betting.

They don’t all necessarily want to share in sports betting, hence all of the bills.

Conspicuously missing from this legislation is the Iowa Lottery, which has indicated that several large retailers have expressed interest in offering at least a limited sports betting product.

Earlier this month, Iowa Lottery representative Mary Neubauer spoke at a previous hearing about how retail and casino sports betting can coexist in the state:

“True sports wagering enthusiasts appear to be going to casinos in Delaware, where the average wager during the football season was in the 50 to 60 dollar range. The casual bettor appears to be visiting retail locations in Delaware, where the average wager remained 10 to 11 dollars throughout the football season.”

Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino is so confident that sports betting is coming to Iowa, it announced last month that it was building an 8,600 square foot sportsbook on the premises and partnering with sports betting operator William Hill to run things for it, should the state enact a law.

Matthew Kredell
- Matthew began writing about legislative efforts to regulate online poker in 2007 after UIGEA interfered with his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker while working as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News. Covering the topic for Bluff Magazine, PokerNews and now Online Poker Report, he has interviewed four U.S. Congressmen and 20+ state legislators. His poker writing has been cited by The Atlantic, Politico.com and CNN.com. A freelance writer based in Los Angeles, Matt has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men's Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.
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