Iowa Sports Betting Bill Awaits Governor’s Signature
In a 67-31 vote, the Iowa House approved legislation to legalize sports betting and fantasy sports. The Senate earlier voted 31-18 for the measure. It now goes to Republican Governor Kim Reynolds, who has not publicly indicated if she’ll sign it into law. Reynolds said, “We’re going to do the same process that we do with any legislation that passes. My policy team and I will sit down and we’ll review the bill at hand and then we’ll make a decision.”
If Reynolds signs the bill into law, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would begin establishing rules for betting on professional, collegiate and international sporting events, including motor racing. The rules would be adopted this summer, giving casinos time to prepare for college sports and National Football League games, said IRGC Administrator Brian Ohorilko. Iowans at least age 21 would be able to wager on sporting events on-site at any of the state’s 19 casinos and online after registering in person. Net sports betting receipts would be taxed at 6.75 percent, and taxes and licensing fees could generate annual revenue of $2.3-$4 million annually.
State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, the bill’s sponsor, said, “This is an industry that is here. This bill regulates it, taxes it and polices it.” He added he was “cautiously optimistic” that the governor would approve the legislation, especially since lawmakers added funding for problem gambling services.
At least four versions of sports betting bills were introduced. One gave regulating authority to the Iowa Lottery, another to professional sports leagues and another to the horseracing industry before the final version put casinos in charge.
And Iowa casinos are gearing up for the change. Jill Beasley, vice president marketing, Harrah’s and Horseshoe Casinos, said, “We’re really excited to get sports betting in Iowa.” She said Caesars Entertainment officials recently visited Council Bluffs. “They walked both properties, Harrah’s and Horseshoe to identify the best location to have sports betting at our facilities. We have quite a few options so we’re going to get those back and hopefully put things in place. What we’re really excited about, it’s going to create an alternative for sports fans who like to bet but in a regulated and safe way and that’s what’s really important to Caesars Entertainment.”
At Ameristar Casino in Council Bluffs, Penn National Gaming Vice President Public Affairs Jeff Morris said, “The sports wagering bill was thoughtfully crafted with a reasonable tax rate and appropriate regulatory oversight so that Iowa’s casinos can effectively compete with the off-shore illegal market. Legalizing sports betting will help drive new visitation to our property and provide our guests with another exciting amenity to enjoy at Ameristar Council Bluffs.”
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino near Des Moines recently completed an 8,600 square foot sports book on its fourth floor. Prairie Meadows Chief Strategic Officer Brad Rhines said, “We are excited to expand our resort offerings with a fully renovated clubhouse that includes both our racing center and new William Hill sportsbook. Once the legislative process is complete, this innovative partnership will provide many fun and unique sports betting options for our guests.” Rhines stated if the governor doesn’t sign the sports betting bill, the new space will be used for horseracing simulcasts.
Also, Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington announced it will remodel its gaming floor to accommodate a $1 million sportsbook, featuring a sports bar, multiscreen video and odds display wall and other gaming options. New Jersey-based PointsBet will operate retail and mobile wagering.