It appears that Iowa isn’t in any rush to legalize sports betting. Unlike Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia and Mississippi, which already have sportsbooks operational, the Hawkeye State’s governor and her Democratic challenger are in agreement over taking this process slowly.
In May, the Supreme Court overturned the 26-year-old PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) as being unconstitutional. This opened the door for individual states to make their own laws surrounding sports betting, having previously been banned from doing so in states outside of Nevada. Four states now offer legal sports betting in addition to Nevada: Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Rhode Island and New York are in the process of legalization.
Governor Kim Reynolds (Republican) told reporters this week that she will not make any comments or speculations about if she would sign any legislation to legalize sports betting until she receives a bill passed by the Iowa House and Senate in final form.
There is no guarantee that a new bill to support sports betting will achieve approval from the state legislature. According to an article in the Des Moines Register, Reynolds made the following comments:
“What we are doing is working with the legislature, working with the different agencies to see what that would look like and how it would be implemented. There are a lot of questions to be answered.”
Fred Hubbell, the Democratic challenger for Governor of Iowa in the 2018 election, did not speak directly with reporters. However, his spokeswoman Remi Yamamoto said that Mr Hubbell has the opinion that the state’s elected leaders should watch and learn by what other states have done and are doing regarding legalizing sports gambling, in addition to collecting input from informed Iowans, before committing to any legislation for Iowa.
So far, only House Study Bill 592 has been drafted and introduced. Its intent is to allow gamblers in Iowa to create sports betting accounts at Iowa casinos. The bill specifically states that gamblers would be able to place bets online or in-person at sportsbooks. The measure was debated last session in the House but hasn’t gone any further.
The president of the Iowa Gaming Association, Wes Ehrecke, said on Tuesday that he plans to ask the state legislature to consider a bill during the upcoming 2019 legislation session that will be fundamentally similar to House Study Bill 592.
Gambling in Iowa is overseen by the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. As of right now, sports betting is still illegal, but the state does have 24 casinos and pari-mutuel facilities across 20 cities. Dubuque has three casinos. In total there are almost 21,000 slots and gaming machines and 457 table games, with a maximum bet of $10,000. There are live poker tables to play as well.
Iowa was the first state to pass riverboat casino legislation in 1989. This legislation allowed Riverboat gambling within the state along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. In 2004 Iowa expanded to slot machines in racinos, leading the way for other states to do the same.
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