Iowa Senate Committee Passes Fantasy Sports Bill
Legal Sports Report

Iowa Daily Fantasy Sports Regulation Takes Big Step Forward

Iowa took another step toward having legal daily fantasy sports in the state, as a bill to regulate contests passed a committee vote on Wednesday.

Senate Study Bill 1068 was approved by the Senate State Government Committee by a voice vote. It is actually the second time a bill of this nature has been considered in Iowa; it failed in 2014. A companion bill also exists in the Iowa House, although that is still in committee. 

Short and sweet

The Senate bill contains the same language as the House version, adding a single passage to Section 99B.11 (2) of the Iowa code, making fantasy sports contests exempt from Iowa’s definition of gambling):

A fantasy or simulation sports contest in which all prizes and awards offered to winning participants are established and made known to the participants in advance of the contest and the value of the prizes or awards is not determined by the number of participants or the amount of any fees paid by the participants. All winning outcomes in such contest shall reflect the relative knowledge and skill of the participants and shall be determined predominantly by accumulated statistical results of the performance of individuals, including athletes in the case of sports events, in multiple actual sporting or other events, and no winning outcome shall be based on the score, point spread, or any performance or performances of any single actual team or combination of such teams or solely on any single performance of an individual athlete in any single actual sporting or other event.

Most daily fantasy sports sites currently block players from Iowa because of language in the current law.

Fast track?

From the initial movement on the two pieces of legislation, Iowa could be fast tracking this legislation:

  • Both the House and Senate bills were introduced and assigned to committee at the end of January.
  • The tracking for the House bill shows activity on Thursday.
  • There was reportedly only one dissenter in the voice vote, meaning the bill likely has wide support.

If the bills get to the floor of both houses of legislature, there will be almost certainly some debate and amendments. The Des Moines Register notes that likely amendments would put a minimum age on participating in fantasy sports contests for cash, among other possibilities.

Four states

Iowa is one four states considering legislation regarding DFS, along with Indiana, Montana and Washington State. However Washington’s legislation might have taken a bad turn for daily fantasy sports. At a committee hearing last week, some legislators were couching DFS in terms of gambling instead of a game of skill. And one witness at the hearing was making a distinction between seasonlong fantasy sports and DFS.

The Iowa legislation is obviously the model the DFS industry would like to see for states moving forward — simple, to the point, and making daily  fantasy sports legal in the jurisdiction.

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Dustin Gouker
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Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer — including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.