Iowa continues to make progress toward launching legal sports gambling in the state. This past February, a state Senate committee passed Senate Bill 1168 (SB 1168), which would authorize casinos to run sportsbooks and offer mobile betting, and another bill, House Bill 648 (HB 648), is making progress, as well.
HB 648 has passed a vote by a subcommittee of the Ways and Means Committee on Monday after a few changes were made to the bill’s language. It survived by a 4-1 margin and will now go before the full committee on Wednesday, March 20. It isn’t expected to meet any resistance and, according to Representative Bobby Kaufmann, the bill’s author, should be ready for consideration and approval by the House in the first week of next month.
Kaufmann explained to Legal Sports Report, “I think the momentum is on our side,” Kaufmann said. “I know it’s a priority among leadership of both chambers to get this done. I’m shepherding it through and making the changes I have to make. I’m very confident in getting this done and think we have the wind at our backs.”
When the bill goes before the Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday, it will include several alterations. No in-game bets on Iowa collegiate players will be allowed and, of the 6.75% tax on gross gaming revenue, 0.25% will go toward creating programs to prevent problem gaming. HB 648 also now includes a requirement that would force gamblers to register in person to establish mobile accounts and changes a subsidy paid by Prairie Meadows. That facility currently gives 11% of its revenue to subsidize its live horseracing program and that subsidy would be applicable to sports gambling revenue as well.
The 11% revenue is going to be short-lived, however. Prairie Meadows will soon see the amount drop to 6%, based on a previous stipulation that the percentage would decline once $200 million in contributions were delivered.
The in-person registration and subsidy were included by Kaufmann and were required for the bill to gain support of Lee Hein, the committee’s chairman. Whether or not those amendments will be favorable to lawmakers in the House, or when the bill meets SB 1168, is not yet clear.
The other changes are meant to appease Democrats and get them behind sports gambling. According to Kaufmann, “The bottom line is this thing isn’t passing on the House floor without Democrat votes, so we have to make concessions and we’re doing that.”