Iowa, USA - Sports betting is now legal in Iowa. Governor Kim Reynolds has just signed a bill into law this week, which establishes a legal way for people to bet on collegiate, professional, and international sporting events.
The bill had bi-partisan support and was passed by legislators within the past month. It allows both residents and visitors of the state to bet on sporting events whether online or at any of Iowa’s 19 casinos, provided that the bettor is at least 21 years old. The bill also legalizes betting on internet fantasy sports as well as fantasy sports contest. However, it excludes betting on events like minor league sports and in-state college team players. The bill also delays the legalization of betting based on college sporting events statistics until May 2020.
Before signing the bill into law this week, Governor Reynolds has refused to indicate whether she supported it or not. She has also declined to indicate whether she supports expanding the gambling industry in Iowa or not. According to the Des Moines Register, however, a spokesperson for the governor has stated:
“Governor Reynolds believes that legalizing sports betting will bring this practice out of an unregulated black market. This law will regulate, tax, and police sports betting in a safe and responsible way.”
Sports betting will now fall under the regulatory authority of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. The commission also regulates the 19 casinos in the state, and Commission Administrator Brian Ohorilko has stated that the state’s casinos are expected to soon provide space for onsite sports betting. The casinos are also expected to start working on contracts with online and mobile application companies to facilitate electronic betting.
The commission has started drawing up rules that will govern the sports betting process in the casinos, as well as online and via mobile applications. The plan is to focus first on land-based betting and then work their way through online and mobile sports betting. The regulations should be ready, and land-based sports betting should be able to commence by July or August, with online and mobile betting to follow in the coming months.
This development is expected to generate anywhere from $1.8 million to $3.5 million in annual tax revenues, which will go into the state’s general fund and sports wagering receipts fund. According to gaming law expert Keith Miller, however, sports gambling itself isn’t expected to bring in that much money, but it could pull more people into the casinos in Iowa. These people could decide to gamble on other games being offered in the casinos, or spend their money in the restaurants. Either way, the legalization of sports gambling is still good news for casino operators in the state.
The federal ban on sports betting outside Nevada was overturned by the Supreme Court in May of 2018. Since then, one state after another has legalized sports betting, and Iowa is the 8th state to do so. It was New Jersey that took the reins in getting that ban overturned, and now, all states are free to decide whether to legalize sports gambling or not.