Iowa sports betting needs just a few more steps to become legal
Legal Sports Report

Iowa Sports Betting Bill Off To Governor’s Desk After House Passage

Iowa sports betting 2019 legal

The Iowa legislature has authorized the state’s casinos and racetracks to build sportsbooks, and it doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to know that people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Bill sponsors Rep. Bobby Kaufman and Sen. Roby Smith told Legal Sports Report that SF 617, passed by the Senate last week, would clear the House on Monday.

Sure enough, their colleagues voted 67-31 in favor of the bill to legalize IA sports betting late in the evening hours.

HF 648 was first amended to match verbatim the Senate sports betting bill. With unanimous consent, the House then substituted the Senate bill for debate and voted it through.

Having passed both chambers, the proposed legislation now heads to the governor for the final decision.

Senator details Iowa sports betting bill amendments

Smith believes his legislation was approved because the Senate worked closely with the House in recent weeks.

“Yes, it’s a Senate file, but all four caucuses worked on this,” Smith said prior to passage. “We got it to the point where all caucuses were on board with it. I think there will be bipartisan support in the House just as there was in the Senate.”

The chambers met in the middle on sports betting operator fees. The House asked for a $75,000 initial licensing fee and the Senate $15,000, so they met at $45,000. The $10,000 annual renewal fee halved the difference between the House’s original $15,000 figure and the $5,000 previously in the Senate bill.

Smith indicated that a late amendment delayed implementation of daily fantasy sports on collegiate players until May 1, 2020.

“It gives time for collegiate athletic departments to educate the college athletes,” Smith said. “There will still be betting on the outcomes of Iowa and Iowa State football games right away.”

Another change removed the 0.5 percent from the state’s end to the County Endowment Fund, though Smith noted that will be readdressed next year when the legislature takes a closer look at the County Endowment system.

When sports betting will reach the governor’s desk

In Iowa, if the legislature is still in session when a bill reaches the governor’s desk, the governor has three days to sign it. If the session is over when the bill arrives, this is extended to 30 days.

The reasoning is that, with the legislature tending to pass a lot of bills in the final days of the session, the governor needs more than three days to go through them all.

With the bill now passed and the legislative session not scheduled to end until a week from Friday, a three-day window seems likely.

However, Smith and Kaufmann warn of three possible complications:

  1. The legislature will likely adjourn by this weekend.
  2. Any House change requiring concurrence would delay passage.
  3. The paperwork of getting amendments attached to a bill and having the legislation signed by the House Speaker and Senate President can take anywhere between a few days and two weeks.

Will the Iowa governor sign?

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds stated during a campaign debate that she believed the state should regulate sports betting.

Smith attested that he spoke with the governor’s legislative liaisons asking if there was anything in the bill that she would consider a red flag, and he was not informed of any issues. However, he stressed that the governor has not indicated whether or not she would sign the bill and wants to see it in its final form.

“She’s seen the process – the 12 public subcommittee and four full committee hearings,” Smith said. “Everyone had a chance to see it. We’ve been very transparent, and the governor watched through the whole process. That’s why I feel good that she’ll sign it.”

Smith asserted that it is not a coincidence that the legislature made July 4 the effective start date for sports betting in Iowa.

“We made the start date the Fourth of July to emphasize that it’s a freedom we’re giving people,” Smith said. “That’s the soonest sports betting could start, though it won’t happen until it goes through the rulemaking process.”

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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