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On Monday, Iowa legislators put the finishing touches on the state’s sports betting bill.
The House voted 67-31 in favor of the measure pushing it to Governor Kim Reynolds’ desk for her signature.
Iowa’s House voted on the measure Monday after the state Senate approved the bill by a 31-18 count last week.
If Gov. Reynolds signs the bill, then Iowa would see sports betting become legal in most of the state’s 19 casinos.
“This just brings people out of the shadows and gives them a regulated environment,” said Sen. Roby Smith, R-Davenport.
“It gives people the freedom to choose to do sports wagering, legally.”
Gov. Reynolds has not signaled what she plans to do with the bill, but experts believe she will eventually sign the measure.
“We’re going to do the same process that we do with any legislation that passes,” Gov. Reynolds told the media.
“My policy team and I will sit down, and we’ll review the bill at hand and then we’ll make a decision.”
The bill would give the state’s Racing and Gaming Commission authority over sports betting inside the state.
Bettors would have to be 21 to place a wager, and out-of-state gamblers from states such as Nebraska will be allowed to bet via an app as long as they are inside Iowa’s state lines.
Nebraskans spend an estimated $327 million on legal gambling in Iowa and with legal sports betting potentially available that number will climb higher.
“Iowa is progressive. They have capitalized on the fact that Nebraska doesn’t have gambling,” said Mike Newlin, general manager of Horsemen’s Park.
“And they’ve reaped the rewards.”
The big winner in the fight for sports betting dollars in Iowa will be the casinos if the measure passes.
According to the proposed bill, the casinos would have an enormous amount of influence over how sports betting is regulated in the state.
For the state, the tax rate on all bets would stand at 6.75% on net receipts in the proposed bill.
Legislators who wanted sports betting legalized have offered the argument that betting in the state is happening, so why not regulate and make money off of it.
“This is an industry that is here,” Rep Bobby Kaufmann said. “This bill regulates it, taxes it and polices it.”
Lawmakers who opposed the measure are concerned about the effects that sports gambling will have on the state’s residents.
As in other states, legislators have become very concerned about gambling addictions and how it hurts families and communities.
“The powerful gambling industry has captured Iowa,” Sen. Joe Bolkcom said on the Senate floor last week.
“It’s a predatory industry just like big tobacco and big vape.”
Sen. Kaufmann told the Des Moines Register that money would be set aside in the bill for treatment of individuals who fall victim to gambling addictions.
With an entire industry waiting to see what Gov. Reynolds does, plans are indeed being made to begin sports wagering in the state by the July 4th holiday.
Whether the casinos make that date or not, should be known in the next couple of weeks.
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