Iowa Lawmakers Change Sports Betting Bill, to Ban In-Game Bets
Iowa legislators made several changes to a sports betting bill this week that will limit the types of bets available to be made on collegiate games. Bettors will now be unable to wager on in-game actions by their favorite college team. However, residents of Iowa will still be able to place wagers on other popular types of bets. These changes come roughly 6 weeks after legislators decided to scrap a previous batch of sports betting bills.
Republicans vs Democrats
The amendment to ban in-game prop bets was brought forward by a Democrat, surprisingly. Both the House and the Senate are controlled by Republicans, in addition to the Governor’s mansion, but according to Representative Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton), who is guiding the bill through the House, Republicans need the support from Democrats to get this bill passed. To Republicans, sports betting is a priority:
“Gambling bills are traditionally, historically, bipartisan. You’ll see them pass by small margins comprised of both Democrats and Republicans.”
Amendment to Ban In-Game Betting
Representative Dave Jacoby (D-Coralville) introduced the amendment to ban in-game betting on individual collegiate players. This is a priority for him because there are concerns that these types of bets could cause undue influence on the athletes and their actions.
It will be legal to bet on individuals during professional sports games, however. The idea is that a player making millions of dollars every year will be less likely to be influenced to fumble, strike out, or otherwise influence the outcome of the game compared to an athlete in college.
Kaufmann isn’t worried about that, since he believes that the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission could keep an eye out for attempts to influence college athletes, but the Democrats wanted to make the bill stronger. Kaufmann understands, and accepts the concern as being legitimate, and needs the bipartisan support.
Other Proposed Amendments
The second amendment that the committee adopted was that Prairie Meadows Casino would have to pay 11 percent of its revenue on sports racing to the horse racing industry just like it does with other gaming revenue. The third amendment would designate one-quarter of the proposed 6.75 percent tax on total receipts to go towards gambling addiction services.
These are probably not the last amendments to be made to the bill. Other concerns include how to distribute the tax dollars from sports betting revenue to counties in Iowa with casinos versus without. Right now, counties that have casinos must give to community foundations and charities. As the system works now, the counties that have casinos get more of the funds compared to those that do not. On this topic, Kaufmann stated:
“Casino counties have long benefitted, and rightly so, from scholarships for kids, fire stations, EMS. It’s a big deal. Non-casino counties whose people go (to casinos) and spend our money there are receiving way less dollars. I just want to have a conversation to see what’s a fair percentage.”
With these amendments, there seems to be more optimism within the state legislature compared to last month when they decided to scrap everything. With progress being made, state leaders are hopeful that sports betting can be legalized sooner than later.
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