Iowa may be one of just a few states that still prohibits residents from participating in daily fantasy sports and most other forms of online gaming, but that doesn’t mean the outlook is all bad. Lawmakers have made no fewer than four separate attempts in recent years to pass legislation that would legalize daily fantasy sports or online poker. Online poker has dropped off the radar, but something even more significant is in the works.
Iowa Gaming Association to Support Sports Betting Legislation
Now, a report from InsideSources reports the Iowa Gaming Association (IGA) will be making a renewed effort to legalize not just daily fantasy sports, but also traditional sports betting. The report states the IGA is now in the process of getting members on board to craft legislation to authorize sports betting if the Supreme Court of the United States rules in favor of New Jersey in its challenge of the constitutionality of the federal sports betting prohibition.
If the Supreme Court strikes down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which bans single game sports betting in all states but Nevada, it will open the door for other states to authorize sports betting. A decision in the case is expected to come next year, and the IGA wants to be ready if PASPA is stricken down.
IGA President Wes Ehrecke is convinced that legalizing, regulating and taxing sports betting is the right way to go. He recently pointed to American Gaming Association (AGA) figures to make a point that cannot be ignored: the AGA estimates that roughly $150 billion is spent on sports betting across the US each year. Legal sports betting in Nevada only accounts for about 5% of that total.
Wes Ehrecke says support for legal sports betting in Iowa is mixed, but he is convinced it is the right way to go. Here’s what he told InsideSources:
“Some have been very positive in their response, others want to see what a bill would look like and others are probably more reserved, maybe lukewarm, but respectfully, they oppose gaming on moral or religious grounds and we respect that. We’ve heard concerns that we’re just expanding gambling. No. It exists already. We’re just trying to make it more regulated and with good standards and integrity, and we do respect others who are lukewarm, but we have also had some favorable responses as well, very positive.”
Ehrecke also believes legalization would provide a much-needed new revenue stream for the state. Iowa is already looking at another $45 to $90 million in budget cuts for the fiscal year ending in June 2018.
Despite the uncertainty of a potential bill’s reception among lawmakers, Ehrecke does remain optimistic that there is widespread support among the public. From the Quad-City Times:
“I think there’s a great deal of interest among people (who want) the opportunity to bet on a game and do it in a regulated environment. If and when this were to be passed, to have that opportunity to provide this opportunity in Iowa, I think a lot of people have a great deal of interest in sports and betting on sports.”
Fantasy Sports Also Under Consideration
The IGA is also giving daily fantasy sports a new look and believes there may be enough support to pass something in 2018 no matter which way the Supreme Court rules in the New Jersey case. Oral arguments have already been presented to the Supreme Court and a decision is expected in the Spring or Summer of 2018.
Early reports indicate the Supreme Court may be leaning towards siding with New Jersey, but fantasy sports will remain on the table in Iowa either way. Senator Jeff Danielson told InsideSources that fantasy sports will remain on the table even if the Supreme Court rules against New Jersey.
A bill introduced last year was met with optimism, but it ultimately failed to advance as lawmakers became busy with other legislation. However, the bill is not completely dead and could resurface next year. Representative Ken Rizer told InsideSources that he is unsure when it comes to sports betting, but is confident in a fantasy sports bill’s chances.
“I think that’s something that we’re going to have to wait and see on. I think there’s enough support for fantasy sports betting, but I think the jury is still out on whether or not Iowans will support full sports betting.”