When state lawmakers return to work for the 2019 legislative session in January, there will be a proposal to legalize sports betting in Iowa will be waiting on their desks.
The President of the Iowa Gaming Association, Wes Ehrecke, said he has been talking to leaders in the statehouse about setting up a framework that would permit sports gambling in casinos across the state as well as on mobile apps. The plan, according to Ehrecke, will allow betting on both collegiate and professional sports.
According to CBS2Iowa, Ehrecke commented on their proactivity on sports betting:
“In Iowa, if we are proactive in getting this passed in the upcoming session and other states do not, that could be a real advantage.”
Legislation to bring legal sports gambling to Iowa was introduced last year but it didn’t get far enough to pass. This was partly because of the at-the-time federal ban on sports betting, which was eventually overturned in May by the Supreme Court. Since May, states have been free to set up their own sports betting laws, and the Iowa Gaming Association really wants it to happen.
The legislation that the Iowa Gaming Association plans to propose will grant the state’s casinos the option to build sportsbooks in their existing facilities, and would be regulated by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The IRGC will set out the rules and regulations, much like in other states.
According to Ehrecke, bettors could also place wagers on their smartphones after setting up an account in person at one of Iowa’s casinos. This will ensure that all bettors are at least 21 years old.
One of the top-ranking Republican legislators, House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, said this week that they will discuss sports betting when they all return on January 14. She said,
“That’s just a really interesting topic. I’m looking forward to see what Iowans want done with that or not done with that maybe.”
Three months ago, it appeared that the state was going to take things slowly with sports betting. However, it appears many state leaders are seeing the potential revenue from legal sports betting and how much other states are really benefiting from this newfound industry.
Since 1992, sports gambling has only been legal in Nevada due to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). After a long and drawn-out fight, the matter finally went before the Supreme Court, which gave its decision in May. The Court overturned PASPA, saying it was unconstitutional. This left it open for states to legalize sports betting, or not.
So far, seven states and Washington D.C. have done so: Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, Rhode Island, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania have active sportsbooks. Washington D.C. has legalized sports gambling but has not yet opened any sportsbooks.
Will Iowa join other states like Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, and New York by aggressively discussing what legalized sports betting will look like for their respective states in 2019?
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