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Legal Sports Report

Iowa Sports Betting Legislation Moving Swiftly Through Statehouse

Iowa sports betting

Mirroring Iowa sports betting bills are quickly advancing in the state legislature.

On Thursday, Senate Study Bill 1168 passed the Senate State Government Committee on an 8-6 vote.

Similar legislation House Study Bill 198 was approved by a subcommittee following a hearing with stakeholders and now moves to the full House State Government Committee.

Chairman Bobby Kauffman told the Globe Gazette he expects it to get a vote next week.

“The legislature has two options,” Kauffman told the newspaper. “Option one, we can stick our head in the sand, click our heels and really hope this goes away. Option two is to regulate and tax it.”

Highlights of Iowa sports betting bills

This is a bill that would allow the state’s 19 casinos, as well as horse racing tracks and other “gambling structures” — but not the state lottery — to apply for licenses to offer IA sports betting. The legislation would:

  • Include a tax rate of 6.75 percent on gross gaming revenue. An annual fee of $15,000 for sports betting and $5,000 for daily fantasy sports is established in the House bill. The Senate bill has yet to fill this in.
  • Authorize wagering on professional and collegiate sports.
  • Permit online and mobile sports betting. The Senate bill specifies in-person signup for a sports betting account for the first 18 months, and a casino representative asked at the hearing for the House bill to as well.
  • Legalize daily fantasy sports. Operators like DraftKings and FanDuel haven’t previously served the state.

Opposition from sports leagues

The bills do not include an integrity fee or royalty to professional sports leagues. A league lobbyist voiced opposition at Thursday’s House hearing but interestingly did not ask for a fee.

Christoper Rants, a lobbyist for the NBA, MLB and PGA, asked for a requirement that licensees purchase official league data and for leagues to have input on which in-game bets would be allowed.

What’s next in Iowa

There are now 10 sports betting bills in the Iowa legislature, but these are the ones with momentum.

The Senate bill is the first Iowa sports betting legislation to make it through a committee.

Iowa also considered sports betting bills last year, but a bill never made it out of committee and the session ended just prior to the Supreme Court decision to strike down PASPA.

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

Matthew Kredell
- Matthew started his career as a sportswriter at the Los Angeles Daily News, where he covered the NFL, Kobe-Shaq three-peat, Pete Carroll’s USC football teams, USC basketball, pro tennis, Kings hockey and fulfilled his childhood dream of sitting in the Dodgers’ dugout. His reporting on efforts to legalize sports betting began in 2010, when Playboy Magazine flew him to Prague to hang out with online sportsbook pioneer Calvin Ayre and show how the NFL was pushing US money overseas by fighting expansion of regulated sports betting across the country. A USC journalism alum, Matt also has written on a variety of topics for Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.
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