2019 Will be the Year for Sports Betting in Iowa
You can add Iowa to a growing list of states that are poised to legalize sports betting in 2019, as it appears that the majority of the state’s legislature and other related agencies are on board with this endeavor. According to a report by TheGazette.com, Rep. Jake Highfill declared that his Republican and Democratic colleagues are “all in” on sports betting in Iowa.
In addition to state leaders, the Iowa Lottery also approved a motion to further explore sports betting and how a platform may look. From there, it didn’t take long for the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) to also join lawmakers and the state lottery in supporting legalized sports betting.
Despite all of this support, Iowa had a chance to legalize sports betting in 2018, but they failed to pass a bill (H 2448) before the legislative session ended. So, when lawmakers meet at the beginning of 2019, they will have start the process from the beginning by submitting a new bill or a revamped version of H 2448. However, since both political parties are already on board, the state lottery is on board, and the IRGC is on board, the process to submit and approve a sports betting bill is expected to be a quick one.
Bill H 2448 Could Shed Light on Iowa’s Sports Betting Plans
Although bill H 2448 wasn’t passed into law, there are some key attributes of this bill that could be included in the upcoming sports betting framework. According to LegalSportsReport.com, the following is a list of the bill’s key sports betting details:
- Sports betting would be allowed at approved casinos, horse tracks, and other facilities.
- All approved betting venues would have to pay an initial $25,000 licensing fee and then an annual $15,000 renewal fee.
- Bettors can place wagers on professional and collegiate sporting events.
- Bettors can place wagers in person or online.
- The state will tax on the sports betting revenue and not the handle. The tax rate could go as high as 22%.
Who Will be in Charge of Iowa’s Sports Betting?
Iowa lawmakers, most likely in collaboration with the state lottery and the IRGC, will create and implement the sports betting platform. However, it will most likely be the IRGC (Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission) that oversees sports betting. The IRGC already oversees gambling in Iowa and they would be best equipped to handle the responsibilities of monitoring and regulating sports betting.
The Iowa Lottery is trying to get lawmakers to pass a stipulation that allows retail outlets like convenience stores, especially the ones who already sell or participate in the lottery games, to offer a limited form of sports betting. For example, the casinos will have all of the sports betting wagers and events, but convenience stores may offer parlays or a few single event wagers in addition to lottery games. Keep in mind, there are several state lotteries that are in charge of sports betting within their borders.
Delaware’s state lottery oversees their state’s sports betting. Additionally, both Rhode Island and West Virginia state lotteries will be responsible for partially overseeing or fully running sports betting within their respective borders. Although Iowa Lottery isn’t pushing to have full responsibilities of overseeing sports betting, they could still end up having to monitor whatever sports betting opportunities are allowed at the approved retailers.
Expectations Moving Forward
The state’s lottery expects that sports betting would initially generate a revenue between $1 million and $10 million. Rep. Highfill believes the state could earn tens of millions of dollars in revenue generated by whatever tax rate lawmakers approve. I believe Highfill is closer to reality than what the Lottery estimates. In Delaware’s first three-weeks of legalized sports betting, they already cleared $1 million in revenue. And, this was done in the summer time. The numbers are expected to go up once football season hits.
I expect Iowa to exceed the $10 million mark in tax generated revenue, especially if lawmakers approve the Lottery’s proposal. Additionally, all of the casinos are lining up to get on board. Jim Frank, general manager of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Sioux City, is already lobbying for inclusion. According to an article by the Sioux City Journal, Frank made the following comments:
“We want to be in on that opportunity. It’s all about the experience for our guest. For them to be able to come here, and be able to place that type of bet, you know it’s more convenient for them, it’s well-regulated. And I think it’s just a right fit, and something that we would want to do.”
Frank echoes what a lot of other casino owners and operators are saying. Additionally, let’s not forget how Hard Rock has other hotels and casinos within America forming business partnerships with major gambling companies to implement sports betting. This could help Sioux City’s Hard Rock have a leg up on its competition.
Ultimately, unlike many other states still struggling to figure out what to do like New York and California, Iowa is in a great position to capitalize on legalized sports betting next year.
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